This is an excerpt from Please like me, A BuzzFeed News bulletin on how influential people are fighting for your attention. You can sign up here.
The hosts Reel from Salt Lake City have something to say
I have never watched a hosts broadcast from the beginning before, but I knew I had to tune in to the premiere. The new series really has everything, as my colleagues wrote everything about this week. But I was intrigued by the show̵
For whatever reason, many of Instagram’s most influential, and especially the best mother bloggers since the early 2010s, have been practicing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I tried to write an article about why this is dozens of times in the last few years, but I never got anywhere, mainly because the reasons are opaque, varied and complex. But the phenomenon is fascinating.
When Bravo announced the show, many women speculated whether some of Utah’s best bloggers would be chosen as hosts, with fashion influencer icon Rachel Purcell being the best choice. However, Bravo seems to be deliberately selected women who are not members of the church, former members of the church or are considered “Mormon 2.0”. I don’t know why, but my best guess is that the producers would have a hard time waging their normal dramatic battles if everyone was sober.
Bravo promoted the show on social media before the premiere, working with influential people like Kathleen Barnes to publish their own summaries of the show. The show, however too attracted a lot of attention on social media from Mormon influencers. And they were NOT happy about it.
After the show premiered on Wednesday, a chorus of Utah-based Mormon influential people began posting almost in unison how unhappy they were with the performance of their religion and state on the show.
The reactions of the influencers ranged from angry remarks and sharp remarks to slight irritation. The main obstacle they all looked at was that the show portrayed their culture as false and materialistic, as a replica of the “darkness” that rises beneath the perfection of Salt Lake City as if thirsty. Many erupted in the show, spewing “lies” about their faith or misleading key elements of it.
An interesting post was from Emily Jackson, Rachel Purcell’s sister, who got into a rather awkward situation. Emily also partnered with Bravo for the premiere, posting a video on Instagram Reels for the show. She even spilled tea on part of the cast, saying she actually knew one of the cast members quite well.
Soon, however, she provoked a lot of negative reactions for her positive response to the show. Other members of the church insulted her for promoting something they thought misrepresented their faith.
Emily was in a difficult place here. She was contractually obliged to promote the show (probably in a positive light), no matter what she personally thought of the depiction of the church or city in which she lived. But when she did her job, she angered some of her fans who are members of the church. She tried to smooth things over by making it clear in a story on Instagram that she wanted to keep the light of her review, but that she disagreed with some of the comments about and portrayed her faith. I asked Emily to talk to me about it, but she didn’t answer. (Rachel also gave her review, remaining measured, but agreed with her sister.)
This is the part of the newsletter where we usually deliver ~ hot reception ~. To be honest, I don’t have much analysis other than to love drama. I love the window to the Mormon influential world and views that we rarely see. Many of these women rarely discuss their religious beliefs in detail, so it is interesting to see them offer their analysis in such a sharp way.
I think a lot of the criticism is small (the hosts are always exaggerated and above all – no one expects the whole of Salt Lake City to be like that). However, I understand that for many of these women, their faith is deeply personal and they are genuinely upset by the way it was discussed on the show. If they want to share this on their Instagram account, they have every right to do so. And it allows us to see a new side of them, which, whether you agree with their opinions or not, is definitely interesting.
However, I think we can all agree on one thing. The real winners in this whole drama are the performers in Bravo, who must love him absolutely.
Remember when celebrities released their heart PSAs for the safety of the coronavirus? We can use that same energy right now.
The pandemic began to feel like a hallucination. We drive through periods that are tragically familiar, as we enter new, scary territories. COVID cases are the highest ever, and Americans are once again struggling to assess the potential loss of business to human lives.
That is why it is particularly irritating that – after the attacks on the security campaigns of celebrities and influential people, which we conducted in March, this time there was no visibility on social media.
Where’s Sean Mendes in his beaded bead telling me to be safe? Where are all my influential people posing in their sweet salons, who assure me that we are “all in this together”? Where is our third wave video “Imagine” ???
Of course, their requests and positions should be less important than hearing our local and federal government officials. But the influence of celebrities is always more influential than we want to admit. Hating him or loving him, many people turn to their loved one to help them make sense of their own lives. (The simple topic that Stephanie and I keep getting into these bulletins over and over again is that the influential have an impact !!!)
That’s why in early April I reported on the World Health Organization, which invests big marketing dollars in social media campaigns, including influence of AIdesigned to encourage people to stop the spread of the virus.
Perhaps celebrities, like many of us, are exhausted from vigilance and obedience to the commandments. Maybe they don’t care much. Perhaps they feel literally or metaphorically immune to the pandemic. Or maybe – something more pragmatic – no one encourages or pays them to publish about it anymore.
I guess I was so encouraged by how many celebrities and influential people involved looked around the election season, and I thought they would bring the same energy to the current crisis.
But it’s not too late !!! If you are an influencer reading this, [Bernie meme] Once again, please use your platform for public good and public health. If you’re a fan, please ask your favorite influencer to share awareness-raising statistics, holiday season conservation tips, and, my God, I’ll even take an interpretive dance from RejoiceHeather Morris. This is the beginning.
Until next time,