Yes… I am doing this. Believe it or not, I used to like these people—back when they were actually funny… once upon a time.
Studio C is an American sketch comedy television show created by Matt Meese and Jared Shores, produced by Brigham Young University Television or BYU TV, and it was good, in my opinion, for the most part—although with later seasons as the budget apparently got better the sketches became less funny and more terrifying in my opinion and more alike to a horror movie. It was a Latter-day Saint family production and therefore tried harder than most to actually keep clean and appropriate comedy. Most notably they did not even do things that are allowed in children’s programs nowadays, such as propagate taking the Lord’s name in vain or fake marriage and whatnot. Now between 2012 and 2019, there were roughly ten major actors. Then, however, the old actors left, being replaced by new ones, and they founded JK Studios and alleges itself to also be “family”. I did not love it as much. Some of their longer episodes felt too dry and pointless, and I don’t think sketch comedy works well in longer form without something more serious to balance it out, but I still enjoyed a few I found rather comical, notably one entitled Who Is Undercover? There are others, nevertheless, which I did not particularly like or made me uncomfortable, notably Angels Designing Humans. I do not know the precise Latter-day Saint view on the subject, but it seemed to be making a joke about the alleged uselessness of aspects of the body, making it seem to me rather irreverent when one considers that God’s design was wise, and I rather imagine many Latter-day Saints would agree with me on his subject.
And then they made “Emma Stone Tinder Match”…
It has the same problem with being too dry that I have with most episodes of JK! Studios, and that most of the jokes not landing as well as the jokes in Studio C did. More importantly, this sketch also speaks borderline blasphemy.
The sketch begins with three people, Matt, Natalie, and Stacey sitting in a room together. Matt is on his phone, and Natalie remarks that he is on Tinder which surprises her because she thought he was dating someone called Jessica. Matt responds that she “dumped” him, so he is “rebound swiping” (no, I have no idea what that means). Then suddenly Matt is shocked because he just matched with Emma Stone (another person with whom I am not familiar, but I think she is some actress or something). Stacey and Natalie both seem skeptical, however, and Stacey remarks that it is a fake profile. Then Stacey reads Stone’s Twitter and sees that she just tweeted “I just matched with a guy who looks like Captain America before he takes the serum” and everyone is shocked because that could only mean Matt. The recurring joke that Matt is extremely weak definitely gets old for me, especially here when it feels more like roasting, but… we will move on because it has yet to get horrible. Then everyone freaks out and jumps around while drums are playing because they think it is impossible and the mail-lady climbs in to say she is living beneath her potential and should be dating someone called “Shakeil O’Neil” or someone (I have no idea if that is spelled correctly), if Matt (who apparently orders “male Spanx”) can land a date with Emma Stone which made little sense to me. Yes, it is improbable in general that someone could get a date with a celebrity, but the whole thing seemed to me just like they were bullying Matt for allegedly being lame. A lot of comedy writers seem assume that friends being mean to each other is automatically funny, when it is not. The jokes about Matt being lame were in Studio C, but typically they gave reasons why the character he was playing was incompetent and it did not feel like a shade on the actor as it does here. More often, there were just jokes about him being physically weak, which as far as I know, may be true without saying anything bad about his character. Matt’s father then shows up (whom Matt hasn’t seen in ten years) and he says he is proud to call him his son. Matt sends him away. I have no idea how he got in in the first place because they are still in a house already and he does not even have the decency to come through the window as the first lady did. I know it is a sketch comedy, but seeing as no one comments on it and the sketch never makes it clear that it is aware of this, I can only call it a gaping plot hole. Stacey then remarks that he is gay but if he were to match with Emma Stone, he could not say no. To this, Matt remarks “You’re gay?”, but Stacey exclaims that this is not about him. I have problems with this exchange, to which I will get in a moment. Matt’s alleged “friends” then start questioning whether Emma Stone is ill in some way (once again, people bullying a so-called friend is not necessarily funny). Then Matt exclaims that Stone sent a message that says “hi” and people start screaming again (also, the mail-lady is there again because why not?) The mail-lady remarks that the tabloids are going to eat up that “Emma Stone dates average man”, to which Natalie corrects her to “below average”. Again, this is not fun. I am just confused why everyone is bullying Matt. Matt doesn’t have a chance to respond because a priest comes to the door, saying he was sent by the Vatican on account of an alleged miracle. When the priest learns that Matt matched with Emma Stone on Tinder with “a face like that”, he decides it has proved God’s existence (other than the extreme lack of realism here… no one has remarked how people have been getting into their house). Matt gets concerned and decides he has to call off the date (rather than remarking either on the now three random intrusions into his house or that all his friends are awful), and everyone freaks out and tries to take his phone away. The priest just reaches out his hand as if he is trying to Force-pull it out of his hand (for goodness sake, Catholics are not Jedi!), and Matt’s father pops in through the window to grab the phone as well (so now he has to use the window to get in), but Matt manages to click “not interested”. Once again, I am not laughing. I just feel sorry for him to have such terrible friends who used reverse psychology, willingly or not, to get him to do this.
Then… this is when it happens—the most terrible, horrible, disgusting, abhorrent, abominable thing happens, perhaps in all the history of Studio C and JK! Studios combined. The priest announces that he matched with Emma Stone on Tinder, in spite of the fact that he does not have Tinder somehow. Then he immediately tears off his collar, kneels down, and says “Thank you” as the room brightens and heavenly music plays. One might think he is talking to God, but considering the context, I am inclined to believe the priest is speaking to the Enemy.
Before I should address the elephant in the room, I should probably mention the line about being gay. Stacey Harkey, the actor in the sketch comedy, is actually gay. He revealed this in a 2018 facebook post, about a year before this sketch I find so blasphemous came out. And that is fair. In his post, he said that he was doing this to encourage others with same-sex attraction because “many people are living quiet lives afraid and unsure of themselves and I’m coming out for them”. Apparently, LGBT teens have the highest suicide rate in Utah of any state and I do not mean to undervalue their suffering. We are all broken, and yes, it is hard, I imagine, to have same-sex attraction, such as I will probably never fully understand. However… that said, although in some ways I cannot fully disapprove of his motives in posting this, I still cannot help but think that Mr. Harkey is shying away from the idea that this is a problem and not how it is meant to be. The one paragraph in his Facebook post that made me very uncomfortable was this one:
“A little while back I found myself at an ultimate low, praying and begging God for answers, pleading for direction and guidance. In that moment I felt so much peace and love. I instantly felt like this part of myself that I’ve grown to demonize is an integral part of who I am. This part of myself that I’ve spent my whole life fighting isn’t my enemy. This part of myself that I’ve shoved into a dark dungeon deserves light. It was the sweetest feeling and it taught me that God expects me to be who he made me to be and expects me to develop myself and magnify who I am.”
Now, I understand the feeling, when dealing with temptation, of sometimes feeling overwhelmed and begging God for answers. Nevertheless, where I disagree is calling same-sex attraction “an integral part of who I am” and I suspect an orthodox Latter-day Saint would probably agree with me. It is a disorder. No, disorders do not necessarily make you a bad person. I used to have a friend with Down syndrome. He has a disorder. He is slower than the average person, intellectually speaking, but he is no less a beloved child of God. Still, the line God expects me to be who he made me implies that God intended him to be gay rather than seeing it as an unfortunate side-effect of the downfall of man.
Now, I do not mean to get too far into the personal side of Mr. Harkey’s life as I am sure it was difficult for him to admit he had same-sex attraction in the first place. Also, as far as I know, he is unmarried, so perhaps, at least for the present, he is living a chaste life.
However, I do mean to address the line, “I’m gay, but if Emma Stone asked me out, I couldn’t say no!” First of all, I do not think this should be placed in a family program, at least in the modern era where homosexuality is being normalized. Yes, it is fair to tell people that you have struggled with the same things that others have in order to give encouragement. However, I am doubtful whether it is fair to throw it into a family-friendly sketch comedy so carelessly. Also, the word “gay” often implies a willingness to act upon the same-sex desires rather than seeing it as a mental illness which is not as people are supposed to be (although, like with any other mental illness, those who have it must have our compassion).
But believe it or not, that is not the part that offended me the most. Obviously, the part of the priest—of all things, did you have to insult priestly celibacy? I know and I understand the understanding of marriage is different among Latter-day Saints (if a Latter-day Saint would consider these people orthodox), but why just casually mock the way of life among priests. They have 1 Corinthians 7:8, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do.” Again, various people who accept the Bible have different interpretations than I. Priests, brothers, and nuns do not marry because for several reasons, one being that in that way they can concern themselves more with God. But they do not believe it, and that is all well and good or at least, do not allow me to get in the way of it. I will not mock things considered sacred by the Latter-day Saints such as temple garments and the like, even if I disagree with them. All I ask is that they do me the same favor and not mock the things that we as Catholics find sacred, among these holy celibacy.
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I am the Chivalric Apologist