West Valley City • Glenn Beck gazed upon humanity from some 238,857 miles away — witnessed darkness and light, despair and hope — and concluded that the fate of mankind rests in its own hands.
The conservative media personality, known for his outspoken and often controversial beliefs, used fireworks, dancers, music, a massive robot and a 35-foot-diameter replica of the moon to stage a show that was billed as a way to “help people see America’s history from a completely different point of view.”
The “Man in the Moon” show, which played to a sold-out audience at the USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City on Saturday night, began with two soldiers walking upside-down from either side of the top of the stage, to unfurl an American flag, upside-down.
The accompanying text: “Where were you when the world was turned upside-down?”
Beck took the stage wearing a black tuxedo and told the crowd of roughly 18,000, many of whom were wearing garbage bag ponchos against the rain, “If we don’t know where we came from, we’ll never know where we’re going.”
He stressed that the night was about history and culture.
But he said of the story he was about to tell: “I warn you, you are really, really not going to like how it ends.”
As Beck began narrating — telling a somewhat biblical version of the evolution of mankind — he took on the role of a watchful moon admiring sister Earth, calling her “Blue,” and his face became superimposed upon the giant stage moon.
The moon witnessed mankind, referred to as “the beasts,” become greedy and violent and lose its way.
Noah’s ark rode out the flood, followed by a Tower of Babel scenario.
Fast forward, and the Man in the Moon touched upon the evils of slavery and praised Abraham Lincoln.
Dancers illustrated man’s creation of electricity. And, with the coming of the Industrial Revolution, a giant robot in the corner of the stage began moving its arms and upper body.
War was signaled by the sound of sirens as the stage went dark and fireworks shrieked into the sky.
Images of Hitler, and the Man in the Moon told of World War II ending as an atom bomb exploded on screen.
Beck then took the stage as himself again, saying that is how the story ended, for now, but that new chapters would be written.
The audience then watched video of John F. Kennedy speak of reaching for the stars and sending men to the moon.
A visibly aged and wrinkled moon concluded with an impassioned speech about the “puzzle” that is mankind.
“I cannot tell you how your story ends, because I am not the author. You are,” said the Man in the Moon. “Love, love one another. I cannot wait to see what you decide to do.”
“I am your moon. And you are my beasts,” the moon continued, promising to be there in mankind’s darkest hour “to remind you that on the morrow, the sun shall return.”
The moon began to spin to the sound of upbeat country music, fireworks once again exploded overhead, and the show was over.
The spectacle was the culmination of Beck’s tour through Utah during the July Fourth holiday weekend, which included speeches, panels and museum tours in Salt Lake City.
Beck, 49, who converted to Mormonism in 1999 after battling drug and alcohol addictions, is one of the most high-profile media personalities in America. He is the author of seven No. 1 New York Times best-sellers, and “The Glenn Beck Program” is the fourth-highest rated talk radio program in the country. The show averaged more than 7.5 million listeners per week in June 2013.
Beck previously hosted a self-titled talk show on FOX News, which brought in more than 3 million nightly viewers at its peak. He was at the center of numerous controversies during his run at FOX, including in July 2009 when many advertisers boycotted the program after Beck said that President Barack Obama has a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” Beck’s show stayed on the air until he left the network in June 2011.