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Boy Scouts and the Uncanny Valley

There are some things that I just can’t abide. I am incredibly susceptible to the uncanny valley — a phenomenon where things that look almost real — but not quite close enough — cause revulsion. With me, it’s not just human replicas (and photoshops of Paula Deen), but any replicas.

There is a cell phone tower in Provo that I have to pass fairly frequently. Cell phone towers don’t bother me, but this one is a fake pine tree. And it gives me the willies. (It looks something like this. There are equally nauseating palm tree versions.)

The worst offender I’ve seen, is the oversized replica of the great World War II photo of the sailor and the nurse kissing, titled  V-J Day in Times Square. The statue is so revolting to me that I am sitting here stalling, anticipating having to see it, just to create a link. It literally makes my skin crawl.

I finally copied the link to Unconditional Surrender. And I did it by covering up the photo with one hand while manipulating the mouse with the other. Ack!

So what does this have to do with Boy Scouts? As if I didn’t have enough to bug me about Boy Scouts this week, a reader pointed out this Boys Scouts campaign.

I have no idea what the point is, but I can tell you I can’t look at that poster for more than a couple of seconds without reaching for the airsickness bag.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Syphax November 6, 2011, 7:29 pm

    You know, reading this, I thought, “Good heavens, it can’t be that bad.” But then I saw it. How atrocious. Wow. Coincidentally, I wrote about the “uncanny valley” this week too, but it was due to a Baptist writer who remarked that Mormons were in the “uncanny valley” of Southern Baptists. In other words, we look, act, and behave like they want their parishoners to, only we believe very differently. So we’re like zombie versions of Southern Baptists. Funny concept if you ask me.
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  • Alison Moore Smith November 6, 2011, 9:54 pm

    Syphax, I LOVE it! Mormons are the uncanny valley of the baptistry. I’ve never been so proud.

    And really, who writes about the uncanny valley on Mormon blogs. You are a kindred spirit!

    Seriously, that Unconditional Surrender just makes me freak.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 6, 2011, 9:59 pm

    P.S. Read Mormons are SBC Zombies. Great stuff.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Family Friendly ComedyMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner November 7, 2011, 10:18 am

    That is truly creepy and yet hilariously funny at the same time.

    You already know my feelings on scouting (at least Alison does). As a former primary president who saw approx 80% of my primary budget go to the BSA via registration and awards (plus the staffing issue…oh my!) for approximately 10% of my Primary children, I’m not a fan!

    I made some comment once in ward council about it, sort of in a joking way, but my bishop got all serious and said something to the effect of, “When your daughters bring home men they want to marry who are not Eagle scouts, you will feel differently about it.”

    Um, no.

    I married a non-scouter. My dad is a non-scouter. My brothers are non-scouters. They are also some of the best men I know. While I don’t think the program itself is bad, I don’t think it necessarily brings anyone closer to Christ, nor does it necessarily strengthen their testimonies or make them better individuals. And most of the money we spend on it as a church goes to the bureaucracy of it and not for actual activities for the boys that really teach them something and help them to become better individuals. I don’t like my money going to it, but fully support anyone who wants to do it on their own for their children.

    Alison to your point on T & S about the church discouraging girl scouts, yes I remember that as well, although I haven’t heard anything about that in many years. In the late 70’s/early 80’s when I was of girl scout age, there were several things said about it. Not sure if that was on a church level or a local level, but I think it was all tied to the ERA.

    On another note, also when I was PP I went to a primary open house in SLC where Sister Lant told us that the church is not getting out of scouting so we need to quit asking. Apparently I was not the only one with a chip on my shoulder over it. 🙂

    No surprise though, really, when you see the connections our former and current church leaders have with the BSA. I don’t see any change coming for many years.

  • SouthernMan November 7, 2011, 6:24 pm

    Alison, you plucked a string that is still resonating. Such strong emotions. In the ward I grew up in, the scouting program was equally as ignored as the young women. Tuesday night mutual might have well been basketball night, because thats all the male population ever did in that ward. It wasn’t until my brother and I got our drivers licenses that we started having fun. Camping on barrier islands, hiking through the swamps, boating and fishing. We had a pretty big group after a while. I imagine what kind of scout troop we would have had if someone had read the church handbook on youth. I didn’t even know there was a such thing as a boy scout summer camp. But the ward was big into sports and seminary. Just no one really gave a hoot about Boy Scouts.

  • Tracy Keeney November 7, 2011, 8:46 pm

    Odd– I’ve never heard the term “uncanny valley” before.
    But that picture sure is a good example of it– it’s really kind of GROSS isn’t it? Blech!

  • Janiel Miller November 13, 2011, 4:44 pm

    I’ve gotta say, the name “Unconditional Surrender” bothers me a WHOLE lot more than the statue itself. And, okay, the “Attack of the 50 Foot Kissers” aspect of it is pretty annoying too. It’s a case of taking a wonderful photograph of a moment of pure joy-abandon, and making it seriously gag-a-licious.

    As for the bearded boyscouts–Wha? I want to put my kid in a program that turns them into little homeless men? Ick.
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  • Janiel Miller November 13, 2011, 4:55 pm

    Great article on Mormons as SBC Zombies, Alison. Thanks for the link. It’s an interesting point.
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  • jennycherie November 14, 2011, 5:28 pm

    Add me to the list of “never heard of uncanny valley before.” Those are seriously weird pictures from the BSA ad. I should keep my mouth shut, otherwise. This is public. 😉 (Where’s the ‘evil’ emoticon when I need him?)

  • cambendy April 1, 2013, 3:36 pm

    I just threw up a little in my mouth.

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