Viral Marketing, Echo Chambers, and the People Who Used to Be Mormons

The Internet runs on outrage. This hasn’t always been the case. In the early days, it ran on Star Trek and porn. But that could only go for so long before people started getting more and more outraged about Star Trek and porn. Or Star Trek porn. But you know what I mean.

And one of the essential rules that has always governed our world (not Rule 34--that one came late in the game) is, “if it motivates people, it will be monetized.” This always works. It is why we have Star Trek. And porn.

And it is why the people who were once known as Mormons have apparently been circulating a dumb petition to label as “religious discrimination” a dumb movie poster that riffs on a painting by a Seventh-Day Adventist that is often used in Mormon manuals.

And it is why respectable newspaper sources are reporting on the dumb petition and reprinting the dumb movie poster for free. And why a lot of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Santsians are forwarding the petition and the news story and the dumb poster.

And all of this is, I suspect, exactly the way that the people who made the dumb movie planned it. In fact, though I have not seen the viral marketing campaign plan, I am pretty sure it went just like this:

1. Create a poster that will offend a demographic that is overrepresented on social media.

2. Forward the poster around with a bunch of outrage markers, “CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO US!!!!!!!!!!!”

3. Start a fake petition drive and get a lot of real people to sign it.

4. Get Fox News to interview some dweeb patent lawyer and say that Mormons should sue.

5. Get liberals outraged by forwarding the clip around and saying, “CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT MORMONS ARE TRYING TO DO TO FREE SPEECH!!!!@!”

6. Sit back and watch as your dumb poster for your dumb movie sequel gets forwarded around in two completely different sets of outraged-fueled echo chambers.

7. See if you can get Mormon bloggers to become complicit in the campaign by running allegedly witty commentary on the whole affair.

8. Use the money you were going to spend on Internet marketing to buy a small country or something.


  1. You win my humor prize. Come to DC. I’ll bake you cookies.

  2. Gosh – now I want to se ethics poster 😂

  3. Um ‘see this poster’

  4. I haven’t even heard of this until I saw this article… and yep, there it is on the SL Trib’s website. Gosh, what fools these Mormons be.

  5. The movie is going to suck anyways…it’s only PG-13.

  6. Aussie Mormon says:
  7. Religious discrimination. You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  8. Some liberals are also Mormons. Shocking. I know.

  9. Could you at least link to what you’re talking about, because I have no idea.

  10. Hahahaha that poster rocks

  11. jader3rd, there are a couple of links over to the right of the comments (on the desktop version of this site, that is) under the “LDS Headlines” rubric that explain the background.

  12. I see the petition is reported to state “We ask that the picture be not used or posted in any manor.” Well, there aren’t a great many manors in which it could or would be posted anyway. And very few would see it there.

  13. JR: In Christ’s father’s house there are many manors. Those manors are where all of the angels in the original painting live. Clearly the petition is trying to prevent such blasphemy from being posted where they might see it.

  14. Yes, Carolyn, sometimes I miss the point. Thanks for pointing it out.

  15. Who owns the Harry Anderson painting, and presumably the copyright?

  16. “You better take this down or I’ll start a petition about it and a social media campaign and let everyone know you’re being kind of mean!”

    “Oh please don’t throw me in the briar patch.”

  17. @Ang: The answer to that ownership/copyright question doesn’t matter. This is clearly a parody/fair use.

    That being said, the LDS Church “commissioned” this painting in the 1960s, which probably means it was a work-made-for-hire to which the LDS Church owns the copyright. That’s supported by the fact the LDS Church reprints copies everywhere.

  18. Eric Facer says:

    There was a nice piece by Lance Morrow in The Wall Street Journal on December 1 titled “America is Addicted to Outrage. Is there a Cure?” His op-ed begins with the following brief account of someone who was publicly denigrated because of a disability and who arguably had the right to be incensed. But, instead, he chose a different path:

    “People are so used to it—the noise, the flying spittle—that they were pleasantly surprised when Rep.-elect Dan Crenshaw of Texas declined to be incensed. He is the former Navy SEAL who lost an eye in Afghanistan and was mocked—more stupidly than viciously—for his eyepatch by a performer on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ The insult called for outrage, in the usual tit-for-tat. But instead Mr. Crenshaw took it in good humor. He went on “SNL” to accept the performer’s apology. Not everything needs to be treated as an outrage, he said—a grown-up in a moment of grace.”

    I believe Mr. Crenshaw will be a fine Congressman.

  19. the Other Brother Jones says:

    Di, I would like to see an Ethics Poster also :)

  20. I guess I don’t have enough outrage. Except at Trump.

  21. it's a series of tubes says:

    The author of the petition “writes” at an elementary school level. Also, I am outraged at the IP attorney bashing in the OP.

  22. I’m outraged that the news media thought a patent attorney was the best person to offer an opinion on copyright/trademark law.

  23. I’m not IP lawyer of any kind, and even I knew that guy was talking nonsense.

  24. Truckers Atlas says:

    “…any more than we have to…” In case somebody is forcing you to post about this please just send us a signal to show us you’re OK?

  25. What the heck are y’all talking about? Do I even want to know?
    Will Carolyn bake me cookies too? I promise to be good.

  26. Aussie Mormon says:

    Wesley, the promoters of the Christmas Deadpool movie made a movie poster based on the “second coming” painting that you see in a lot of our chapels, with Deadpool replacing Jesus, and other people put in there.
    Someone started a petition claiming it was religious discrimination.

  27. S. Henneman says:

    I don’t know where this came from, but I am SO offended…

  28. Okay but this is a petition I can get behind

  29. Here’s one link to the Deadpool picture in question:

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