An Open Letter to Trey Parker and Matt Stone About The Book of Mormon
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An Open Letter to Trey Parker and Matt Stone:
Love your show South Park. I can't even begin to tell you how funny, to give just one example, the famous "Nagger" episode was; smart social commentary at its finest. But The Book of Mormon guys . . . not your best work.
Here's why. You know and I know there are easy--and accepted--comedic targets. Standard examples are the suburbs (conformist yuppies), white trash (Honey Boo Boo, 16 & Pregnant, etc.). You guys don't do easy; you do smart.
But Mormons are easy. Mormons had the poor timing of creating a religion whose myths--since they are so recent--are more easily lampooned. Mormons--even setting aside their religious mythology--are also barn-sized targets because they're weird. The don't drink, like 83 percent of the rest of us, coffee (to be completely accurate, caffeinated beverages). They send their young to walk around and knock on your door and evangelize (in those dorky white short sleeve shirts). And they sure as hell don't like to have (pre-marital) sex and booze like the rest of us normal folks.
But you let them off the hook in your musical. Your jokes were easy 8th grade humor pokes at Mormons. E.g., the joke about how Mormons didn't let black people become members until 1978? But the incredibly popular Christian minister Jerry Falwell got his start preaching against desegregation? Soooo, what's so special about Mormons then? Also, when one of the characters gets depressed he goes to a coffee shop, not a bar. That's just an easy, not smart, potshot.
I know it's a musical, guys, but the plot line is thin, to say the least. The star/popular Mormon elder gets paired with the dorky Mormon elder on their mission trip to Uganda? And then upon reaching Uganda, the mis-paired duo realize that people have things like despotic rulers, AIDS (it's really HIV, but why let accuracy get in the way of a good AIDS joke, right?), clitoral mutilation and horrific poverty to worry about rather than the good book? The average South Park episode is thicker than 2+ hours of this stuff.
Then, the popular Mormon realizes that he won't shine (save souls) and has a "hell dream" where, among other things, Jeffrey Dahmer is having sex with one of the elder's Mormon dads and the hypocritical Mormon dad is closeted? He's enjoying it? The "religious guy as hypocrite" joke . . . not original, guys. Finally, the jokes about AIDS and poverty and clitoral mutilation weren't funny and were borderline you-know-what?
It's like you guys were out of your element and did not know how to make the genuinely funny and irreverent South Park translate onto the stage. It's too bad. But don't give up! You're too talented not to give this another go.
A Disappointed (and Broke) Fan