* this is similar to how this blog's novel names are categorised
This post's headline refers to this news article (see below). Interestingly, the printed headline correctly used
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is another example of how organised religion brainwash young children and exploit the young to recruit more innocents.
South Park creators write Broadway musical that throws the book at Mormans (SCMP; paywall)
Is nothing sacred? Evidently not to the creators of South Park, who have written a Broadway musical that throws the book at Mormons
Apr 01, 2011
For years, writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone have lampooned everything, from Scientology to Tiger Woods, Toyota Prius drivers to Islam, Britney Spears to the great state of New Jersey.
Now the twisted minds behind South Park have crossed another line: they're spoofing the Mormon church in a big, brassy Broadway musical that opened last week.
Together with Avenue Q writer Robert Lopez, the duo have left behind their foul-mouthed elementary students to tell a story about two young missionaries whose faith is rocked when they come face-to-face with famine, war and HIV/Aids in Africa.
The Book of Mormon, which stars Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells, has foul language, some brilliantly sarcastic songs, references to genital mutilation, plenty of suppressed homosexuality, tap-dancing Mormons, war crimes threatened on an infant, Darth Vader and a character who complains about having maggots in his scrotum.
While the show makes fun of several Broadway shows including Fela! and The Lion King, Parker and Stone have maintained the structure and feel of a traditional musical.
"We thought from the beginning the biggest challenge was to write a real Broadway musical," says Stone. "With unconventional material, sure. But to do unconventional material conventionally."
Parker and Stone also say a show about Mormons isn't that strange when you consider other religious-themed musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar.
Parker, 41, and Stone, 39, worked on the musical on and off for about seven years, putting it away each time they had to make another episode of their popular series.
They've mulled the idea of a Mormon musical since college and found that their dream was shared by Lopez, whom they met after watching and loving Avenue Q, a musical that featured foul-mouthed puppets and sassy songs.
Picking on Mormons isn't new for the South Park writers: In season 7, they also went after the Church of Latter-day Saints, mostly by mocking participants as relentlessly cheery and by humming "dum, dum, dum" over the animated stories about founder Joseph Smith. But it's not personal, they insist.
"Mormons are pretty darn good at turning the other cheek," says Parker. "They're really good at being really nice," agrees Stone.
They have been proved right.
John Dehlin, a doctoral student who saw the show with a group of fellow Mormons from around the US, was still riveted to his theatre seat, having flashbacks.
"It's way, way too close to home," he says, recalling his own missionary years in Guatemala: the shock at the poverty and violence, the pressure from the mission president to baptise more natives, the despair when his mission companion ran off with a local girl - and the Mormon mandate, above all, to repress doubt and remain relentlessly cheery.
"It's right on," says Dehlin's friend Paul Jones, "but I cringed a little bit, a couple of times."
The musical is proving to be a cringeworthy moment for many Mormons. And yet, though the very name of the show misappropriates the title of the church's sacred scripture, there have been no pickets or boycotts, no outraged news releases by Mormon defenders and no lawsuits.
This is intentional. Mormons want people to know they can take it. The Mormon Church has signalled to members to turn the other cheek, while quietly preparing to make the best of the publicity - for instance, posting material on the church's website about the growth of the faith in Africa.
Meanwhile, more liberal Mormons are making pilgrimages to New York to see it. They are even celebrating the show as a sign that their faith has made the big time.
"Mormonism is mainstream," said Dustin Jones, a lawyer and a Mormon from Phoenix, who saw the show with Dehlin, "and when you want to be a mainstream religion you open yourself up to mainstream criticism. Catholics have been subject to criticism for decades. Now we've arrived and we're on Broadway."
Which brings us to the question: Is nothing sacred to Parker and Stone? No, they say. Nothing can be ruled out for ridicule.
Associated Press, The New York Times