Monday, October 1, 2012

Book of Mormon Musical: Ads in the Play bill?

After seeing The Book of Mormon Musical, I have many thoughts... I'm probably going to have to break them down into a few different posts... So, let's start with this one:

I don't understand why the church chose to advertise in the playbill of this play.
Three full page ads. All saying things like, "The book is always better," or "I read the book."
They really needed one that said, "This book will change your life," .. oh wait, I just found the church's official statement on the musical, "The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ."

I wonder if the guy that said that had heard this song yet. (I don't think this song has anything offensive in it... I think even my mom would think it's clever. But, I could be wrong.)

I am aware of the idea "All publicity is good publicity." and I guess it makes sense from a business point of view. Jump on the publicity bandwagon... But...

Does the church know what is in this play?

The play shows the missionaries as naive and arrogant at the same time. Does the church know how closely many of the missionaries resemble the stereotype?
The guy sitting behind me went to during the intermission. He was chatting with the missionaries online, but then he asked the wrong question, and they ended his session. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "That's kinda what I thought." I don't know what his question was. When I asked him about it he said, "The real missionaries are even more naive than the ones on the stage."
I hate stereotypes and generalizations, but how could I argue with him? He'd just had a session with the missionaries shut down, because they determined he wasn't asking the right questions. 

Why is the church giving money to a play that has more offensive, blasphemous, sacrilegious and vulgar language than any R rated movie? Why are they supporting that? Advertisers are often called sponsors... Why is the church sponsoring this play?

Do church leaders know what they are "endorsing"? Do the members?
Don't get me wrong - I love it (the play), but I sure wouldn't have liked it a few years ago.

I never saw Titanic (the movie), because I didn't want to support a movie that had such "bad" things in it. Even edited...My seminary teacher explained that we were still giving money to the movie-makers, which supports them, so if you don't want to support that kind of thing, don't see the movie. This play has a whole lot of stuff that my seminary teachers would hate. It's much MUCH worse than Titanic.

Do they know that the only song that references Mormon doctrine gets laughed at by the audience? Before I saw it, I loved the song 'I Believe' because it showed the naivety of the missionary... but other people didn't laugh for the reasons I laughed. (This was actually hard for me to listen to, but I think I'll write a whole post about that. later.)

Do they know there is a whole song about "raise your middle finger to the sky, and curse God's rotten name." (and that line is the most innocent of the song. That song uses language even I don't use, and fuck is one of my favorite words.)

Do they know the basic conclusion of the play? Even though religion is silly, it can still be helpful and uplifting. It doesn't matter if the stories are true if they are helpful. (And in the play, the LDS stories weren't helpful, so they made up their own stories and started their own church.)

Do they know that the play really isn't about the book of Mormon at all? The LDS church advertising in this play is like the Jewish religion advertising in the play Fiddler on the Roof. Except, it's not really like that, because there is very little in this play that the church would support... At least Fiddler on the Roof can be considered wholesome and family friendly.

I just find it... disturbing.


  1. If we're being technical, placing an ad in Playbill is really supporting Playbill and the larger Broadway (or on the road) community, not necessarily the very show.

    But I see what you're saying, the ads feed into the stereotypes that the play itself mocks. Most people think a religion that advertised at all is suspect. Like you, as a Mormon, I would have walked out during Hasa Diga Ebowai. Now it's my favorite number.

    Anyone who reads my blog knows I'm a HUGE fan of the play. I'm seeing it again in November in LA and I'll surely have more to say. I watched this video from the Tonys and my only comment is that I'd certainly open the door and let Neil Patrick Harris in... hehehe

    1. lol (to your Neil Patrick Harris comment) Enjoy seeing it again in November! I want to see it again. I wonder if it will ever come to Utah?? (Actually, I think seeing it in a Utah crowd would be AWESOME.)

      Before I saw it, I would have said Hasa Diga was my favorite number, but now I can't pick a favorite. It was all just so FUN. (Except, I did have some strong emotional reactions to parts of it... I wasn't expecting to feel angry and sad, but I did.)

  2. I laughed so hard the first time I listened to the musical. Where did you go see it at? I would love to go see it live. I thought it was strange too, that the church was advertising in their Playbill. I first heard they were doing it when that news special on Mormons came on a few weeks ago. I have to wonder if any of the higher-ups in the church now how crude some of the language is it. It's certainly beyond PG-13.

    1. I saw it in LA. Live is definitely better than just listening to it... there's a lot going on on stage. It's like every movement is dripping with sarcasm.