Fame is a paradoxical issue: a phenomenon that is both embraced and shunned simultaneously in American culture and particularly within many religious institutions. Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), for instance, discourage its members (particularly the youth) from seeking out fame as well as famous individuals as role models. Yet they also incorporate positive rhetoric about fame as well in terms of famous LDS people, landmarks or groups. Furthermore, various aspects of the LDS Church (worldwide televised conferences, widely distributed books written by Church leaders, etc.) are highly mediated, thus, integrated with a public venue that is heavily associated with establishing or perpetuating fame. Therefore, leaders themselves may also be considered famous.
In light of the complex view of fame both in and out of the Church, this study explores the relationship between fame and religiosity of LDS (Mormon) youth and how they define and resolve value conflicts therein. The study uncovers themes about how LDS youth define fame, how they talk about it, how they tie religiosity into those conversations, and whom they consider famous and why. The research also explores both the positive and negative uses of fame in the lives of LDS youth, including what they are learning and emulating from those who are famous, as well as how they see the role of fame playing out in the Church.
Through qualitative research incorporating a series of triads, in-depth one-on-one interviews and nonparticipant observation, results of this study revealed an active audience that not only reads against the media, but recognizes and acknowledges the media manipulation that can be found in fame. While these LDS youth both embrace and reject various aspects of fame as it relates to their individual lives, LDS religious fundamentals clearly lay a foundation upon which these youth establish their ideals about fame and whom they choose as role models. When these religious ideals collide with the realities of mediated fame, internal conflict arises. Religiosity then becomes the strategy these youth incorporate to resolve these conflicts. Conversely, the closer fame merges with the religious values of these individuals, the more justified fame becomes in their minds. Furthermore, the data demonstrate a strong tendency toward gendered views about fame and religiosity, particularly within the value conflicts and resolutions, although additional research is needed to determine its conclusiveness. Overall, the religiosity of these LDS youth was found to supercede the influence of fame as the guiding force in their lives.
College and Department
Fine Arts and Communications; Communications
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Frey, Shellie M., "Fame and Latter-Day Saint Youth: Value Conflicts and the Interpretive Audience" (2001). Theses and Dissertations. 4696.
fame, religion, viewpoints, perspective, interviews, observation, opinion, audience, religious influence