By Maria Padhila
There’s a theater / performance art / storytelling project called Mortified that I heard about a couple years ago through a young woman who has become a regional producer for the events. What happens is, you bring your journals, diaries, poems, art, etc. from your adolescence and read these aloud in front of an audience.
“Hear grown men and women confront their past with tales of their first kiss, first puff, worst prom, fights with mom, life at bible camp, worst hand job, best mall job, and reasons they deserved to marry Jon Bon Jovi,” Mortified puts it, calling it “personal redemption through public humiliation.” It has grown into productions around the nation and a cable series.
Part of the appeal lies in seeing how much has and hasn’t changed in each person. You may no longer believe you deserve Bon Jovi, and you might have learned how to give (and ask for) better hand jobs. Now you might be happily married to a woman who has a beautiful bluesy singing voice. Or you might be a singer yourself. Your young dreams and views of the world shape what you love and what you want and what you believe, but unless there’s something quite wrong, you’re not trapped within them. You change. You — excuse the term, my Evangelical friends — evolve.
Both our president and the leading Republican presidential candidate have had their Mortified-style moments recently, with incidents and writing from their younger days surfacing. A long Washington Post article went over Mitt Romney’s propensity for “pranks” at his tony prep school in the 1960s, such as leading a mob to attack and forcibly cut the hair of a fellow student the boys believed to be gay.
Although Mortified disallows content produced after age 21, on the basis of a quick read of excerpts in the Vanity Fair article, President Obama’s recently released love letters to an Aussie girlfriend, written when he was 22, would certainly qualify. That convoluted explication of T.S. Eliot, designed to impress his literary girlfriend — embarrassing!
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