Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Book of Mormon

Four years late to the party, but I finally saw The Book of Mormon. I didn't want to listen to the music until I saw it, and it has never been in the same city as I have until now.

The production was immensely entertaining and very inspiring for me as a writer.

-Trey Parker and Matt Stone dgaf so hard about what is and isn't appropriate. This is immensely satisfying. Nothing is sacred in their work, and, really, you just have no other choice but to applaud them. I've been in writers' workshops where the use of a pronoun is debated as offensive for half an hour. While I believe we should live in as most loving and truthful world as possible, sometimes it's just nice to see a musical sequence in which Hitler is sodomizing a gay Mormon teen, and the protagonist's father is being felt up by Jeffrey Dahmer. Those things were on the Boradway stage. Those things won Tonys. In an overly PC America, it's refreshing. And it's also totally earned! Nothing is "just 'cause," and nothing else has to be explained.

-The themes of the musical were not as obvious as I thought they might be going into the theatre. Obviously, these guys aren't Morms, so there was really no chance of the production being pro-LDS. But it was remarkably even-keeled about LDS. Most importantly, nothing was made up or exaggerated. This musical literally told the Book of Mormon and mapped out young Mormon life pretty genuinely. Of course seeing any religion shown as a pageant play would be ridiculous, but nothing was blown out of proportion. It was by the literal book with, even, some helpful explanation of why some pieces might seem far-fetched.

-Music is amazingly powerful! Some of the melodies are so fantastic and hopeful, it doesn't matter if the singer is talking about Jesus "growing a pair" or a man raping babies (real topic covered), I just felt good. There are so many people in the world who don't like musical theatre because it is unbelievable or cheesy. Those people can eat rocks because MUSIC IS MAGIC. I don't care if musical theatre isn't "realistic." Why is realistic the measuring tool for making yourself feel an emotion and learn and grown and be happy?

-Stone and Parker tricked a typically white liberal older wealthy-ish audience into going to a show about something they thought they wanted to see (making fun of Mormons) but secretly made it about something else we don't love to think about in this country (Uganda). Spoon full of sugar, y'all!

-Speaking of. I had heard the portrayal of Africans was offensive in the musical. You know, it's really hard to say. What does that even mean? I'm kind of convinced any type of portrayal of an African culture seen via liberal white people can be construed as offensive because we truly don't know enough about Africa to know what's a stereotype and what is real. Like showing a Ugnada with war lords and AIDS and no technology isn't racist. It's just how it is. Maybe it's offensive to show these diseased impoverished people singing so happily, but that's satire. And also, the spoon of sugar thing.

-Speaking of Part II. There are not enough Broadway roles for black actors. Way to go, Book of Mormon for, yes, creating a heavy white male show but balancing it with a huge black ensemble.

-It was funny. That doesn't really need to be said, but, yeah, it was really really funny.

Two gripes:

-The end seemed so rushed. Like, a murderer was conquered in ten seconds of dialogue? Somehow? All loose ends were tied up in less than one musical number.

-Holy pop culture topical jokes. One character was a total I get that. And, heck, maybe darth Vader and Hobbits are timeless now. But, little jabs at OJ Simpson and Nicki just tainted the work. TO ME. Maybe that's snobby of me. Whatever, this is my blog. MY RULEZ.


The musical did have a message about faith, and it was more uplifting than one might think. Ultimately I left feeling the musical said, "Hey, people need something good and hopeful. It can be wacky and made up. It probably is. But, the feeling behind it, the spirit beyond humanity, is not. What a lesson to tackle. Hats hats hats off.

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