Chris Hicks: When movies laugh at Mormons, it isn't always mean

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  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    April 8, 2011 5:59 p.m.

    It is clear that the musical "The Book of Mormon" is a kind of minstrel show, full of pretense that the audience is affectionately embracing the mentally inferior but amusing members of a minor ethnicity that will be happily accepted and appreciated for their cultural peculiarities, so long as they know their place and do not affront the audience by pretending to be their equals. The New York audience feels kindly to the Mormons for letting sophisticated New Yorkers be amused by the ignorant religious antics of the missionaries, "Elder Amos" and "Elder Andy". The next stage in turning Mormons into the new "blackface" entertainers will be having little hitching posts that are caricatures of Mormon missionaries in white shirts and name tags.

  • fresnogirl Fresno, CA
    April 2, 2011 6:21 p.m.

    Oops. That SHOULD read Mormon Ex-Tab singer from Utah

  • fresnogirl Fresno, CA
    April 2, 2011 5:00 p.m.

    My favorite one is the episode of Frasier where Frasier gets an ex-Mormon Tab singer from Utah who makes toys for kids in his spare time (complete with a Scout Uniform) as his agent. His old (and evil) agent quips sarcastically, "By all means when there's dirty work to be done, you can't go wrong with a Mormon!"

  • cval Hyde Park, UT
    April 2, 2011 4:58 p.m.

    The problem is not with the intent, but with the fact that many who know little about the LDS Church take the innuendo as fact.

    I have met many in my professional career who, upon getting to know me have commented that the things they "know" about Mormons don't seem to match my behavior. Interestingly, what they know is rarely true, but clearly comes from entertainment and media misrepresentations.

    Some is intended to be cute and entertaining, some comes purely from bias and bigotry, and some from lack of information, but it is true that if things were said about other groups that are said about Mormons, there would be a major outcry.

    The fact is, this should come as no surprise... in fact it has been prophesied, so let's just deal with it and recognize it for what it is.

  • MiP Iowa City, IA
    April 2, 2011 1:49 p.m.

    Interestingly, I believe CS Lewis looked unfavorably at the church (and other "teetotalers")---and he is the most quoted non-prophet in General Conference. Charles Dickens, on the other hand, was supposedly pro-mormon.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    April 2, 2011 11:44 a.m.

    I'm always highly offended at these types of movies. Jokes hurt.

  • EyeDeeTenTee Miamisburg, OH
    April 2, 2011 4:31 a.m.

    Don't forget "They Call Me Trinity", when 2 sisters from a colony of ranchers tell Trinity that he can marry them both because their religion allows it. The bad guys later call the colony Mormons and say their not allowed to carry guns.

    Maybe a playhouse in Provo should put on a show that mocks gays or any other group protected by our political correctness values. The critics and media would not be calling it cute or clever like they are with "The Book of Mormon" play.

    Brigham Young said that critics "...can only kick Mormonism upstairs."

  • Utah-expatriot Valley Center, KS
    April 1, 2011 5:50 p.m.

    SouthPark episode about Joseph Smith was soooo funny.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    April 1, 2011 5:33 p.m.

    I don't know how many references ended up in his writings but Mark Twain had all sorts of things to say about Mormons, about all weren't complimentary...

  • The Judge Kaysville, UT
    April 1, 2011 4:43 p.m.

    Media trashing Mormons has been going on a long "A Study in Scarlet," the first Sherlock Holmes story from A. Conan Doyle, published in 1887. Many of the Mormon references in that story made me chuckle.

  • sbc Mesa, AZ
    April 1, 2011 2:33 p.m.

    I didn't read through everything so this may have been posted. Two of my favorite were the following:
    Star Trek IV (I believe this is the one). The Star Trek crew had traveled back to 1984. Spock was just getting back from being "reborn" and acting a little odd. Capt. Kirk dismissed the craziness saying that Spock had been on LDS in the 60's.

    The other one was from, surprise!, South Park. It was in Hell with many of our brothers and sisters from other religions. They asked who was right then. It was announced that the Mormons, it was the Mormons that were right

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    April 1, 2011 12:15 p.m.

    How about Wagon Master? That's a good one that shows Mormons in a good light.

  • tracer Paradise, UT
    April 1, 2011 11:39 a.m.

    Comments are more interesting than the article. It seems that only in the US does the entertainment industry take mean-spirited jabs at all things sacred wither it be jews, mormons or christians as a whole. To them, it's easy humor...right up there with crass sexual inuendo. However, as I travel for business in 2nd & 3rd world countries I discover that my faith (specifically as Mormon)precedes me and I am treated with a revered respect for the taboos that we embrace. I am amazed at how knowledgeable my arab and chinese friends are of the LDS faith...perhaps due to all the pot shots from the US media.

  • Two Cents Springville, Utah
    April 1, 2011 11:34 a.m.

    Fun article.

    Fletch has a few other Mormon references too. The redneck plane mechanic: "I don't think he's doing a whole lotta singin with the Tabernacle Choir."

    Fletch showing pictures to Mrs. Stanwyk: "Here's the dog that tried to bite me. He tried to bite my car. Here's the Mormon Tabernacle..." Random but so funny.

    And if I remember right, The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox actually has a scene where Brigham Young is hiring a maid, and Goldie Hawn drastically tames down her baudy fruit dance to showcase her singing and charm to Young.

  • Montana Mormon Miles City, MT
    April 1, 2011 11:07 a.m.

    I agree with Alison. That line from Star Trek IV was great. My wife and I and another LDS couple were the only ones in the movie theater that laughed. I guess the others just didn't get it.

    I am more than happy to laugh (though I sometimes cringe) at the quirks of the Mormon culture. But as has been said in previous posts, there is a huge difference between inocuous humor and inflammatory hostility. The real question is, What was the person's intent?

    By the way, I have seen the pictures of the "polyg rig" and the "Brigham Brougham," and I think they are hilarious, even if the "joke" is over 100 years old.

  • washcomom Beaverton, OR
    April 1, 2011 10:25 a.m.

    It's ok to be light-hearted, but the direct stab at the religion's tenants to denote that Mormonism is not a worthy religion is ill-conceived. That would also mean the rest of the religions in the world - Baptist, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, HIndu, Protestant, Muslim, as well as many others - have no good meaning or good intent as well.

    Does this also mean that we are in the wrong when we laugh at those jokes where a Catholic Priest, a Baptist minister and a Mormon bishop are out fishing together, and the punch line ends up on the bishop? No. I had a catholic father-in-law who loved them just as much as the mormon neighbor.

    It's really sadistic that people poke fun at the doctrine of those trying to do the right thing.

  • HaveANiceDay Ogden, UT
    April 1, 2011 10:06 a.m.

    OK, I get it, Mormons show up at your door in pairs, they don't drink and don't smoke, they are relatively clean cut and sometimes prudish. All things that you can poke fun at, get a laugh, and probably won't offend people.

    Unless your polygamy joke is about Brigham Young, it probably isn't funny and should just be kept to yourself.

  • mkSdd3 Ogden, UT
    April 1, 2011 9:57 a.m.


    Mormons aren't polygamists, Get it!

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    April 1, 2011 9:48 a.m.


    No, YOU "Gert over it already".

    Somebody needs a sense of humor transplant. "Any joke that is a hundred years old just isn't funny"?? Have you seen the Geico commercial with "Honest Abe" Lincoln, when he struggled to answer Mary Todd when she asked if her dress made her behind look big? Hilarious!! 'Cause he was Honest, get it?

    That's 145+ year-old-humor....

  • mkSdd3 Ogden, UT
    April 1, 2011 9:38 a.m.

    Perpetuating a stereotype is most often a bad thing. All the jokes about polygamy aren't funny and just fostering a stereotype that isn't true. I don't find any humor in them, and it is offensive. Jokes about Jews being cheap, Polish people being simple minded, the list goes on. These things are not funny and should not be tolerated, nor encouraged. Some of the things listed are funny, but some of the things listed above are not and should be called out as offensive.

    Mormons are not polygamists, they haven't been for over a hundred years. Any joke that is a hundred years old just isn't funny. Gert over it already.

  • cymrul West Valley City, UT
    April 1, 2011 9:36 a.m.

    What about the LDS movies thast were made that made fun of the LDS church like "Singles Ward' and the "R.M." They were as stereotypical as you could get. Anyone offended by them?

  • cstott Lehi, UT
    April 1, 2011 9:22 a.m.

    Short quips from a movie generally are not the offensive. If some one, other than a member, or the church itself, makes a movie about the LDS, you can bet it's motivated by hatred. With that said...when you consider the type of person who would author such entertainment, or the kind of person who would be entertained by it, it's really hard to take offense.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    April 1, 2011 9:04 a.m.

    Rick Reilly was NOT poking fun at Jimmer. He made a vicious, unfair attack on Jimmer and BYU. There's a difference!

    Quite honestly, this musical might have a positive effect on the Church. The Church has found that whenever something like this ("The Godmakers" comes to mind) comes out, the Church sees a spike in conversions. Why? Because some people get interested and decide to look into it to find out what the real truth is. When they find out that Truth is quite different from what they have been told, many end up joining the Church. I believe the same thing will happen with "The Book of Mormon."

    This too will pass!

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    April 1, 2011 8:54 a.m.


    There is a big difference between poking fun at a religion generally, and directing a vitriolic personal attack on an admirable young man who earned Player-of-the-year honors. Reilly's article was offensive in any light, not fun-poking.

    And I'm not even a Jimmer or BYU fan.

    I love Mormon jokes, and I love that there are Mormons out there who poke fun at themselves, the culture, the religion (without being sacreligious), and especially the Utah way of life be it through articles, cartoons, movies or TV....Just don't cross the line into criticizing, or evil-speaking of the Lord's Annointed.

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    April 1, 2011 8:35 a.m.

    Skipped, The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox
    Gladstone (Conrad Janis), "Mormons never kill."
    Duchess (Goldie Hawn), "That's why there are so many of those little buggers."

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    April 1, 2011 8:26 a.m.

    Second part to the Cheers scene; Rebecca, "I said "more men" not "Mormons", you moron!", Sam replies to his buddies, "There's just no talking religion with her."

  • Lia Sandy, UT
    April 1, 2011 7:35 a.m.

    So lighten up about Rick Reilly's fun-poking at Jimmer!

  • Gemma, UK Leighton Buzzard, UK
    April 1, 2011 5:30 a.m.

    There's the wonderful scene in Cheers when Rebecca moans "Why can't more men send flowers?" Sam, in the background, "I didn't know Mormons can't send flowers... I know they can't dance."
    There's more - it's brilliant. Check it out on youtube.

  • Alison Hyrum, UT
    April 1, 2011 12:06 a.m.

    I love-love the reference made in the dialog in Star Trek IV...Captain Kirk tells a 20th century zoologist that Spock "did a little too much LDS" when he was at Berkeley in the 1960s.

    That's some fine script writing, eh? Still makes me giggle!

  • Chachi Charlottesville, VA
    March 31, 2011 9:00 p.m.

    It's important that we are able to take a good-natured ribbing in good humor.

    But I don't think the new Broadway show is exactly that. Its message seems to be, "Obviously Mormonism is full of absurd fairy tales, but it seems to make Mormons happy, and they're nice people in a naively sweet way."

    I don't think that's a compliment. It's patronizing. I'd rather see a full-frontal assault on my religion's history and teachings than see them simply brushed aside as obviously false. At least that would acknowledge that there ARE serious and compelling arguments in support.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    March 31, 2011 8:24 p.m.

    Good article Chris. There is no sense in taking offense when jokes are affectionately made.

  • UtahBronco Lehi, UT
    March 31, 2011 7:42 p.m.

    Plus the 1960s / !970s(?) Western musical "Paint Your Wagon" with Lee Marvin & Clint Eastwood........

  • footballisgood Holladay, UT
    March 31, 2011 7:40 p.m.

    I remember an episode of the Simpsons where Homer answers the door to find two aliens standing side by side, to which he replies. "Oh no, Mormons!"
    Laughed so hard I peed.

  • Utah Native Farmington, UT
    March 31, 2011 6:21 p.m.

    Fun to read this list! Here's another one; it's from "Peggy Sue Got Married," the 1986 film which takes place in 1960. Kathleen Turner's character Peggy Sue is talking to Michael Fitzsimmons (played by Kevin J. O'Connor). He is trying to convince her to marry him.
    Michael: Now, this is the plan. As soon as school is finished, we move to Utah.
    Peggy Sue: Utah? I thought you'd be going to Paris or New York. What's in Utah?
    Michael: Rita. I met her last summer. She's cool. You'll really dig her. She's got this little cabin outside the hills of Provo where she raises chickens. I'll write, and you two can take care of the chickens to support us.
    Peggy Sue: I can't do that.
    Michael: Why not? Polygamy's legal in Utah.
    Peggy Sue: I'm allergic to chickens.