Monday, January 17, 2011


Alright, so I have to make a confession.  You might question whether I am really even an ex-Mormon after this one.  I am!  I swear! But, I haven't seen Johnny Lingo.

How is that possible?  I don't know.  Where did you all see it? Was it something they showed in YM/YW? Did anyone else manage to completely miss it?

Should I see it now just so I finally know what the hell you are all talking about? I have some vague notion that someone is bartering 8 (or is it 6? 7?) cows either to get a wife or is demanding that she come with 8 cows because she's hideous or something.  Will it make me mad?  It sounds like it will make me mad.  Having heard about the movie but never having seen it, I don't really understand what the message is supposed to be.


  1. In Johnny Lingo's culture, when a boy wants to marry a girl, he has to pay her dad some cows. The better-looking the woman, the more cows he has to pay. (Four cows seems to be the going rate for a real hottie.)

    Johnny wants to marry a girl who everyone calls ugly. But rather than bargain down the number of cows he's going to pay for her and getting a discount because she's ugly, he offers the exorbitant price of eight cows. This boosts her self-esteem so much that she turns beautiful.

    I've never actually been real clear on the message either, but I think it has something to do with "treat a girl like she's pretty and she'll become pretty," or something like that...

  2. I found it on Youtube in three parts. I believe I first saw it in YW and seminary. It is so cheesy it's almost campy.

  3. I saw it in Seminary. Exactly what Kuri said. Being an 8 cow wife means you're a beautiful person on the inside. But isn't that just what ugly people say???

  4. Depending on your age, it was part of the Early Morning Seminary curriculum in the 70's during the same time as the "Tom Trails" filmstrip series. I'm 45 and I just barely missed seeing it but I saw Tom Trails my freshman year.

    I don't really find Johnny Lingo all that offensive really. It is certainly campy and goofy, but I think it's only offensive from the perspective that the message isn't really a part of most people's experience in Mormonism.

    True that women shouldn't look outward for their self-worth, but the message is more that you should look for the inner beauty in everyone, don't judge a book by its cover...that sort of thing...and that people tend to rise to the expectations of those around them. The Polynesian girl, Mahana, was told she was ugly by everyone around her, except when Johnny Lingo showed up he offered her Dad more cows as a dowry payment than any other girl had ever been offered. Everyone thought he was crazy, but then in the end they saw that she really was beautiful. I think it would have been an offensive story if the villagers had prettied her up so that Johnny would like her, but he saw through the outward appearance. I guess you could analyze it to death, but it's just goofy and campy rather than offensive IMHO.

  5. I saw it in seminary after hearing about it for years and feeling kind of (but not really) left out that I didn't know what people were talking about. You could easily tear it apart via a feminist analysis. However, if you strip away the cheesiness and the fact that the context is a male-dominated culture where women can be purchased with cows, I'm with dps -- I like the underlying message -- that I think can be applied at even a deeper level to one's own psyche. And that's where I really like it.

    On a deeper level the message (for me) is once a woman finally sees herself as having her own intrinsic value, she naturally becomes beautiful in her own way.

  6. It's pretty sappy, but in a feel good way. And it is still present in Mormon culture. A year or 2 ago I bought a t-shirt at the BYU Bookstore that read "I am an 8 cow woman" as a gag gift.

    Also, it's reasonably well produced -- compared to that new "go to Institute" film, it's a masterpiece.

  7. If you want real entertainment, check out the Tom Trails slide shows. Don't know if it's still available, but I always thought they smacked of minimizing Native Americans.

    The part where Mahauna's dad makes her come down from the tree made me laugh.

  8. Mahana, you ugly!

    You should watch it. You'll probably get a kick out of it. Oh, and by the way, I came here from Main Street Plaza because I like your URL :)

  9. I'm listening to Willie Nelson and Ray Benson on Austin City Limits. All I can think of is "Cow-cow Boogie."

    Wow. There sure are a lot of ex-Mormons here and on the blog roll. I wonder how many I know.

  10. You have to see it because I need to know how you'll react to it!

  11. Seriously, Ryan? Did you set up an account JUST to follow my blog? How many such accounts do you have?