I just read over on USAToday that new Marriott hotels are no longer offering adult pay-per-view films. If I read it correctly, they’re not offering pay-per-view, period–switching over to some sort of internet-based option, instead. Why is this noteworthy? Well, for one thing, it’s noteworthy because up to this point, no other large hotel chain has done this. (Omni, which owns about 50 hotels, did it back in 1999.) For another thing, Marriott was started and is owned by a Mormon, and I’ve always found it curious that they would tacitly endorse pornography–even profit off it. My brother used to work for Marriott, and I asked him about it back in the day. He said it was simple economics: if Marriott didn’t offer pay-per-view porn, then they’d lose business travelers. It was that vital to success in the hotel industry.
I thought that was wrong on so many different levels. First of all, why is it that business travelers need their porn fix that badly? Second, what happened to sticking up for what you believe in? Marriott hotel rooms all come loaded with a Book of Mormon, after all. Why not stand up against porn in a public way?
So now Marriott’s ditching it at last. Yay? Well, maybe not. See, when Omni ditched its ties to porn in 1999, it did so because it said it didn’t want to make a profit off that industry. Marriott’s reasons today? It’s no longer as profitable. (Why not? Well let’s think . . . There’s this little thing called the internet that seems to have taken off recently. Heard of it?) I want to believe that what this really means is that it’s no longer so all important to business travelers, and so they can ditch the porn and keep the business. Maybe that’s the case. Or maybe it’s just economics again. Porn isn’t profitable for Marriott, so they’re eliminating it, just like they’d phase out breakfast buffets if those started costing the company too much.
I realize that life is not simple. As much as people would like to boil everything down into a black and white decision, that’s not how it works. Marriott’s a publicly traded company. It has obligations to meet to its shareholders. (BTW, shares today are down 1.15% today so far.) It also isn’t a “Mormon” company. And in the end, why do I care what the religion of the founder and owner is? I have no clue what religious persuasion Howard Johnson adhered to. I’ve never even stopped to consider it until just now.
There’s a tendency of Mormons to identify with other Mormons–to root for the Eagles because Andy Reid is a member, or vote for David Archuleta on American Idol because he is. I’ve even seen this affection extended to people who used to be Mormon, but aren’t any more (or aren’t active, at any rate). Amy Adams, Eliza Dushku–there were even extensive rumors that Steve Martin had converted about 10 years ago. The same holds true with fantasy/sci-fi authors. Off the top of my head, I can list Brandon Sanderson, Orson Scott Card, David Farland, Stephanie Meyer, Tracy Hickman, Shannon Hale, James Dashner and Brandon Mull. Mormons generally know who else out there is Mormon.
I’m not sure why this is–I have to guess it has something to do with a perceived persecuted status–an “us against them” sort of mentality. Maybe Mormons feel like it validates their beliefs when someone famous is also a Mormon. “See? Steve Young’s a member. Gladys Knight converted. The church must be true.” If you want to join a church based solely on its star power, there are certainly other well-documented options out there.
Besides, you just have to visit any Mormon congregation to see there’s a wide variety of ways of living the religion. Yes, things are generally the same, but if you start asking specific questions, you’ll find a fair bit of disagreement on specific points. That’s how you end up with Orrin Hatch and Harry Reid both being Mormon. So just because Steve Young is Mormon, how does that impact you? In the end, your faith shouldn’t rely on what other people believe. It should rest on what you believe. If Marriott wants to open up a topless bar in Vegas, so be it. If they change their name to The Mormon Marriott Hotel Chain, and then open up that topless bar, you might hear me start to object a bit more.
Any one from other religions out there want to chime in on this? Do Catholics all know who else is Catholic? Do Episcopalians care if someone else is Episcopalian? Do share.