New Orleans Theater Critic Thinks ‘Book Of Mormon’ Signifies The Death Of American Culture

10.18.13 6 years ago 31 Comments

In the three years or so since Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Book Of Mormon hit Broadway you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s seen it who didn’t enjoy it. Despite it running for a while and having a national tour currently going, the show still sells out months in advance and people are still paying scalpers top dollar for tickets. Jon Stewart said the show is “so good it makes me f*cking angry,” and in a past post about it, I wrote, “Theater experiences like this one only come around once in a generation.”

So what I’m trying to say is that you’d probably have to be a pretty joyless f*ck to hate Book of Mormon. Yet somehow the New Orleans Times Picayune managed to find someone who hates it some much that he feels it’s an indicator that American culture is “slouching toward the abyss.”

Here’s a sampling of the gems dropped by Theodore P. Mahne, who I assume is at least 120 years old, in his Book of Mormon review.

Despite the anticipation and the hype, and despite the multiple Tony Awards and its blockbuster status, “The Book of Mormon” is little more than degrading, offensive trash.

“The Book of Mormon” could be the stuff of a satisfying and funny buddy story and fish-out-of-water comedy, even while poking fun at the inevitable clashes of cultures that erupt. But Parker, Stone and co-writer Robert Lopez fail to reach even for that degree of substance. Instead, they rely upon the most puerile laughs that are rarely aimed higher than vulgar, scatological humor. Such grotesque jokes usually lose their appeal once one hits puberty.

Far too many followers, however, have given the show a pass, claiming that because there are no limits to their attacks, at least Parker, Stone and Lopez are “equal opportunity offenders.” But the utter lack of originality in “The Book of Mormon,” combined with an often downright mean-spiritedness, drags the show to unforeseen depths.

If the humor was merely in poor taste, the show would be simply innocuous. But its offensive aim runs more deeply. The Mormon Church, and ultimately faith itself, bears the biggest bull’s-eye.

The lyrics to one key song, which also cannot be quoted here, were so horribly offensive, that I was tempted to walk out with the large handful of others at intermission.

Other material seen fitting for jokes includes sexual violence against women and children, as well as genital mutilation. Black Africans are depicted in a crude and demeaning manner not seen on stages since the time of minstrel shows. And don’t forget to throw in lots of barbs about AIDS and cancer. That’s sure to draw laughs.

Because it is all draped in mocking religious faith, however, its base insults have been deemed acceptable, even worthy of multiple Tony Awards. The politically correct crowd, which would usually be shouting from the rooftops, appears to be willing to accept the show’s virulent racism and sexism as pure lagniappe.

“The Book of Mormon” runs through Oct. 27. American culture, meanwhile, continues slouching toward the abyss.

Not surprisingly, Mahne — who sounds more like a Fox News commentator than he does a theater critic in a city famed for embracing debauchery, lewdness, perversion, excess, and vice — also hated Avenue Q, the music to which was also written by Robert Lopez. He has written glowingly about the Catholic Church and loved a recent re-creation of Bob Hope’s WWII variety show. Go figure.

(Lead image via Gambit)

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