Monday, March 28, 2011

Must Read "Book of Mormon Musical" Reviews

Perhaps you have been unfortunate enough to have heard of the "Book of Mormon Musical" that recently came out on Broadway. It was done by the raunchy creators and writers of "South Park," the cartoon full of scat jokes and cuss words. This play, put on for Broadway lest we forget, is far worse. Oh how the mighty New York institution has fallen to irrelevance and nincompoop-ism. It is like the whole of culture has stooped to the level of 12 year old children that were never taught good manners. Despite all the fawning by the cultural media elites and West and East coast hipsters, a few people have given pause to the debauchery.

No doubt you have noticed my use of raunchy, scat jokes, cuss words, lack of manners, debauchery, and I would add blaspheme to a long list of descriptions for the show. You would think this would be an unwarranted slam against the show for any respectable musical or play. No it isn't, as those who support it find such descriptions a great enlightened thrill rather than disgrace against human dignity. The retort is that the message is sweet and pro-religious because it says religion is goofy and stupid, but necessary for its helping cultivate goodness. I am sure that bananas are sweet covered in fecal matter from a sewage plant, but I'm not going to eat them and get horribly sick.

Technically none of the posts I highlight will be actual reviews. Almost all will be reviews of the reviews, but that is enough. Most self-respecting people are smart enough to avoid diving into trash to explore garbage to have fun. Then again, modern society and popular culture is a wasteland disaster.

Probably the best response comes from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints press release:

The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but The Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.

It is a gentle swipe at the production, questioning its definition as entertainment and the value of its existence. At the same time it invites more serious people to read the actual book as an inspiration of faith. It also has a link that discusses the public dilemma of lengthy responses or keeping from drawing more attention to the controversies. It concludes, "If the Church allowed critics and opponents to choose the ground on which its battles are fought, it would risk being distracted from the focus and mission it has pursued successfully for nearly 180 years. Instead, the Church itself will determine its own course as it continues to preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world."

Lane Williams of "Mormon Times" in "Deseret News" acting as a Mormon media observer might not question the humor, but does criticize the lack of respect inherent in both the musical and the reviews. He sees a generaloffensive response by those who find the distasteful production of much worth. It is more than the musical that is problematic:

Because I plan on exercising my First Amendment Rights by not seeing this musical — I sense it would garner a heavy R rating were it a movie, judging from the reviews — I will take their word for it that it is funny. I will also try to assume that while they make fun of my religion, they mean it in a good way, if that is possible.

I also assume, however, that I am to take it that I may be either comedically challenged or ardently devout if I don't appreciate this musical's premise in the first place. I wonder if these reviewers would think so if something so special to them was made the subject of laughter and portrayed as absurd. That is good reason for anyone to take offense. But, OK. I need to lighten up sometimes . . .

. . . If the attention this musical receives impels more people to read the actual Book of Mormon, more power to it. I have said before, I do not find my belief absurd, nor do I hold to my religion as some vague way of walking me through the storms of life. I would say my faith isn't vague, so I take issue with the premise of some of these reviewers.

Non-Mormon L. Brent Bozell III of Human Events might not be a fan of Mormonism, but he doesn't find much about the musical that is funny. He rails against the perpetually immature creators of both "South Park" and the Broadway production. Not only that, but he finds the reviewer's who seem to like it as equally shameless and without decency. As if it couldn't get any worse, "Tapper[the ABC reporter] . . . since he is a 'big fan,' thought the show wasn't for the devout, but it was 'brilliant.' He only wondered if it was child-friendly -- a supremely silly question." The list of deplorable songs and antics should make any responsible parent aghast for themselves, much less children. He snickers at the end, "It's amazing that somebody is going to pay $825 per person for the best seats to this show on a Saturday night. It belongs in a latrine. And they think religion's for suckers born every minute."

The fact that some outlier Mormons claim to like the musical is not going to make it any more palatable for those who have a better sense of personal integrity. Bringing out token Mormons as a shield for the monstrosity will not blind those sensitive to the truth of its stink. This is especially the case when the humor of the "token Mormon" has her own tongue in the gutter. As a letter read by NPR said, "Trying to legitimize this play by having one Mormon say she saw it and thought it was funny doesn't hold with me. Maybe if you could have gotten a high-ranking official of the Mormon Church to say that they thought the play was in good taste would have been more appropriate." Of course this won't happen, and there is a reason. The same reason that Stone and Parker's invitation for Romney and Huntsman to attend will be met with the proper response of silence.

I ferociously disagree the musical is light hearted and worthy of considering attending, but I agree with this blog writer's main concerns he has about the production and reviews:

First, Teachout (and Dowd) imply that if a play of this nature were to skewer Islam as deeply as this does Mormonism–it would never see the light of day. No theater producer, no group of investors, no actors or statehands union–would expose their people to the almost CERTAIN violent and potentially terrorist inflamed reaction that would ensue. But the Mormons? Fair game! First, religion in America has always provided grist for parody–but Mormonism? Why, even the looney toon fundmentalist Baptists think it is looney toon. Jesus was in the US? Maroni? Hah, hah, hah–how silly it all is. At least that would be the view of the effete salon gassers who pass themselves off as arbiters of what is acceptable in the US. Apparently nothing in the canon of Islam is as worthy of parody as that of the Mormons.

Second, where are the mass protests in Salt Lake City? Where are the fist waving, chanting, sign carrying “death to Broadway, death to Parker and Stone, bomb South Park” folks? What you say? That’s silly? Mormon’s simply wouldn’t over-react like that? Exactly.

The above "reviews" should be enough to keep any intelligent person away from the musical in order to keep from enabling more cultural desecration. Anyone who does end up enjoying it I invite over for dinner. I will be eating meat and potatoes, but I'm sure there will be excrement and urine to serve. Besides, you might be a typical poor oppressed African who is used to such filth. Don't get angry at me for the offer. It is brilliant comedy and you should be laughing.


Russell said...

Just another attack against the foundations of Western Civilization as the cultural debasement continues.

We're going to see more attacks against the Church as long as we have the audacity to hold fast to standards.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. I guess my reaction to this play is, it was created by the South Park guys - easily dismissed.

I'm not really offended because I know that's what they want, and I don't take them seriously at all. I'm sure that some people will, however be misinformed.

I listened to one of their interviews, and the scripture "fools mock, but they shall mourn," kept floating in my head. ;)

Bookslinger said...

As a friend of mine says: "You can't blame a skunk for stinkin'." And I think that applies to Parker and Stone.

The money quote is from Lane Williams: ". . . If the attention this musical receives impels more people to read the actual Book of Mormon, more power to it."

The production is potty-mouth grossness. You're right to point that out, and you're right not going to see it yourself.

But what's going to be the end-result of the production? What will the crap-consuming segment of theater-goers come away with?

I think the musical is an ingenious way of getting the notion of church into the mind of that segment of the population.

The church and the gospel is not merely for the already-pious segment of the population. The church and gospel is also for those potty-mouths who would never consider going to a church. So the musical is, in a way, a very clever introduction.

Raymond said...

I used to think South Park was funny until they started thinking being sacreligeous was funny. I haven't paid them any attention in years. The play only reenforces that I will continue to ignore anything they produce.

Wall said...

I've seen The Book of Mormon Musical and I think that the above review is inaccurate. The play did have tones of vulgarity and scatological humor in it, not to mention quite a few offensive jokes, but those have been present in satire for hundreds of years, before Shakespeare even started writing, some satires I've studied in college had these elements in them and these jokes aren't "offensive to human dignity". They help express problems that a satire presents in a comical way. A mature adult should be able to take in these elements for what they are: exaggerations and jokes, and not become "Aghast".

Also the point of the musical wasn't to mock Mormons, or really anyone else. It was a satire about religion in general and their point was that it doesn't matter what you believe in, as long as it gives you a better life. Mormonism was just where that grew from. The creators say they chose those roots for their musical because they hold a fascination with the Mormon faith.
The last place this musical belongs is in the toilet, the creators seemed really in tune with what makes a Musical good: Great music, deep characters, and that "romantic comedy" plot structure.

Jettboy said...

For future reference, any links to tickets to this scum of a play will be deleted no matter how good the comment.