Yesterday, I watched Amazon Prime’s docuseries, Shiny Happy People as I wrote my daily blog post. The series, which was eagerly anticipated by Duggar family snarkers, was preemptively condemned by Jim Bob Duggar, who hadn’t seen it before he wrote his statement on Instagram. I shared his comments in yesterday’s post, so I won’t repost them here. Suffice to say, I think he knew this wasn’t going to be great PR for his family. However, in spite of Jim Bob’s fears, although the series promised “Duggar Family Secrets”, I’m not so sure it really delivered too much more of what most of us already knew. I did notice, though, that both Joy Anna Forsyth and her brother, Jedidiah, have respectively announced the births of their son and daughter just in time for this docuseries. Joy Anna’s baby, Gunner, was born May 17th, and Jed’s daughter, Nora, was born on the 24th. Both births were just announced within this week. Jim Bob probably hopes people will pay attention to those blessed events instead of what’s on Amazon.
What the docuseries has done is shine a light on Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles. It has revealed just how sick and bizarre that cult is, and how so many innocent people have been caught up in it through no fault of their own. Yes, we heard from Derick and Jill Dillard, but they weren’t the whole focus of the series. Quite a few lesser figures in the IBLP were given a voice, including a couple of men. I think people don’t realize that culty groups like the IBLP are not just destructive to females. Men who don’t toe the line can also suffer greatly.
This morning over breakfast, as I was telling Bill about the docuseries, I commented that I was so glad I wasn’t born to super religious parents who were stuck in a fundie Christian cult. I’ve mentioned before that to a lesser extent, we’ve been getting an inkling of what it’s like to be raised by an extremely narcissistic control freak through listening to Bill’s daughter. The IBLP puts that micro cult experience on a whole new level, causing a generations of young people to be stuck, undereducated and too sheltered to function effectively in the world.
Heather Heath, who wrote the book Lovingly Abused, about her experience growing up in the IBLP, spoke about how even the most intimate aspects of life were controlled. She spoke of how she bought tampons at WalMart during one of the conferences she attended. When the tampons were discovered, she was severely chastised for “taking her own virginity” with “devil’s fingers”. To be fair, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard such ignorance. Years ago, I read and reviewed a book called Do Tampons Take Your Virginity by Marie Simas. Simas was raised by strict Catholics, who had similarly odd views on feminine hygiene products.
The series indicated that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were moving into leading the IBLP, since Gothard was forced out for being such a pervy old man. Maybe that’s a comfort to Jim Bob, who has been trying to get back into politics so he can help turn the United States into a theocracy. I don’t think he’ll ever get back into public office, but if he’s running the IBLP, that’s a measure of power. But, then, a lot of people have seen the Amazon series by now, and will be warned away from him and his like minded friends. It’s a lot harder to suck people in to such cults now, because of the Internet and the easy availability of vast information. So, their only hope of survival is courting the ignorant and keeping the members they already have busy with breeding and church activities, hemming them in with legalistic rules.
The IBLP is just one of so many religious organizations run by extreme narcissists. Some of what was said in the series sounded a lot like things I’ve heard about religious movements, such as Mormonism. Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS church, basically “married” the wives of church members and had up to 40 wives. Some were as young as 14 years old. The LDS church has obviously changed some of its problematic earlier policies and become more mainstream. But there are still offshoots of the official church that do things more the way they were allegedly done in the early days of the church. Some of what I heard yesterday reminded me of what I’ve read about Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, and lesser known religious cults. Really strict religious groups with lots of rules tend to have a lot in common with each other, even if their actual beliefs are very different. I was actually reminded of Scientology when I heard about how Jim Bob got a lot of his children to sign lifetime contracts that obligated them to work for him. After all, Scientology has their famous billion year contracts for members of the Sea Org.
Overall, I thought the series was very well done. Four episodes aren’t really enough… and I think the producers are going to find that people would love to have more. I won’t be surprised if they make another series or another season of Shiny Happy People. It’s giving people what they want and, ultimately, that means more money for Amazon. I did notice a bunch of people wishing the series were available on other platforms, as they didn’t want to subscribe to Amazon Prime just to watch the series. Fortunately for me, I use Prime a lot, so it was not an issue for me. I don’t use the video part of the membership much, so it was good to get to use it yesterday. Especially since I have memberships to both the US and German versions of Amazon Prime. Yes, that’s right. Amazon Prime on the US version of the site doesn’t carry over to all Amazon stores worldwide. I don’t know if just being able to watch Shiny Happy People is worth subscribing to Amazon Prime, but if you use Amazon a lot, like I do, it may be well worth the money.
One other thing that really seemed very sad to me was how young children were constantly reminded of Hell and how they would be tormented forever if they didn’t instantly obey their leaders. I mentioned it yesterday, but I was especially sickened by the pastor who demonstrated how to properly spank children, forcing them to be “grateful” for the corrections. The little boy who served as the model will grow up someday, probably married to a woman who didn’t necessarily want to be his wife. He will likely discipline his children in a similarly sick way.
Or maybe not… Here’s an unlocked article from the Washington Post about a couple who were raised in Christianity and homeschooled, deciding to do things differently with their own children. It caused a huge rift in their family, but they decided they didn’t want to raise their children the way they were raised. They didn’t want to be instructed to beat their children with rods. So maybe there’s some hope.
While I’m sharing unlocked WaPo articles, here’s another one about a reviewer’s reaction to the series. I think it’s well worth reading… but really, I think you should watch the series, if you can stomach it and have the means. Hypocrite fundie blogger, The Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, is obviously dismayed about it… For that fact alone, you should watch. She’s an idiot who really needs to zip it.
Well, it’s noon, and we have some plans for today, so I think I’ll sign off. Have a great Saturday!