South Park Mormonism

June_2006_angel-moroniALL CHARACTERS AND EVENTS IN THIS POST — EVEN THOSE BASED ON REAL PEOPLE — ARE ENTIRELY FICTIONAL. ALL CELEBRITIES ARE IMPERSONATED…..POORLY. THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS COARSE LANGUAGE AND DUE TO ITS CONTENT IT SHOULD NOT BE VIEWED BY ANYONE.

Last night I saw a rerun of one of my favorite South Park episodes, “All About Mormons.” I recommend it wholeheartedly to those with strong testimonies who aren’t afraid of a little coarse humor. Ronan has already blogged about it here.

South Park has a long history with the Mormons. In episode 411, “Probably,” the mormons were identified as the correct faith. Later, in the “Super Best Friends” episode, Joseph Smith was one of the Super Best Friends, a team of religious leaders who do battle against magician David Blaine. Joseph’s Ice Powers freeze over the Reflecting Pool at the Washington Monument, thereby preventing the mass suicide of Blaintologists.

But “All About Mormons” is interesting not just for its hilariously lampooning version of the Joseph Smith story, but of its portrayal of Mormons themselves, as strait-laced, squeaky clean but deliriously (and suspiciously) happy families. Mormons love rice krispie treats, have Family Home Evening and (zanily) paint their faces before going to the fire station to donate blood. Their togetherness and sheer happiness is in eerie contrast to typical South Park homes.

In the episode, Stan befriends Gary, a new boy in the neighborhood who’s a Mormon. Ultimately the seeming craziness of Mormonism and the abnormally happy lifestyle is too much for Stan, and he snubs Gary. Gary’s reply, at the end of the episode, is both classic South Park and interesting for our purposes:

Look, maybe us Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense. And maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up. But I have a great life and a great family and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is, I don’t care if Joseph Smith made it all up. Because what the church teaches now is loving your family, being nice and helping people. And even though people in this town might think that’s stupid, I still choose to believe in it. All I ever did was try to be your friend, Stan, but you’re so high and mighty you couldn’t look past my religion and just be my friend back. You got a lot of growing up to do, buddy. Suck my balls.

Is this good enough for us? Can we not care that we “believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense?” How much does it matter that “maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up,” given the Church’s teachings today and its capacity to draw us together and make us happy? It seems to me that South Park argues that the social aspects of our faith may be sufficient unto themselves, regardless of the efficacity of our ordinances or the historicity of our scriptures. Trey Parker and Matt Stone miss the point to a certain extent — if our stories ARE true, it makes all the difference in the world — but they may also be right about one thing: even if it’s not true, it still may be worth believing in.

Comments

  1. Kevin Barney says:

    I love South Park. Very funny stuff.

    I hadn’t seen Ronan’s thread that you link to. On that subject, I would bet $100 that I could walk into my ward’s GD class tomorrow (which includes lots of Utah-basin raised, grizzled old high priests), ask about the mechanics of precisely how Joseph went about translating the BoM, and not a soul would mention a hat. Some would probably know about a seerstone in contradistinction to the interpreters. But a hat? No way. In the Church today, that is arcane knowledge, and the fact that it is well known among bloggers is irrelevant to what the average Saint knows. And the scrying methodology of a peepstone in a hat bit is something that more than 99% of Mormons simply don’t know about.

    On your question, Steve, I think you have it exactly right in your last paragraph. Those last three words were the best line of the whole episode. (I thought the dum dum dum bit was stupid, and that they could have come up with something better than that.)

  2. Kevin, one of the great, joyful things in South Park is just exactly the excessively stupid bits. I’ll grant that the dum dum dum bit was stupid, but it was fun-stupid!

    And, Steve, great post–but I think your final block quote has broken the last taboo. Tomorrow, we’ll probably have people in the Bloggernacle posting naked photos of themselves…

  3. I know many happy, agnostic Mormons. Me? I’d be pissed. I have serious wine-envy.

  4. I have had so many friends come up to me after seeing the episode and bring up how wrong Matt and Trey got things, and it’s always the hat.

    “What? He did use a hat? Whatever. You’re serious? Hmmm.”

    The intentional stark contrast of the Harrisons’ closeness and the distance between everyone in Stan’s house was fairly interesting. While one can argue that the episode was fairly anti-Mormon (in some aspects), compared to Matt and Trey’s treatments of other religions, especially Catholicism and Scientology, it is a very pro-Mormon episode.

    Dennis Potter gave a great paper on this episode at the AML and Sunstone west.

  5. Steve Evans says:

    Honestly, it was the nicest they’ve treated any religion on that show.

  6. Eric Russell says:

    The above screenshot is my desktop wallpaper. It was kind of trippy for a second to open up BCC and see it there.

  7. MikeInWeHo says:

    It would be interesting to have a truly anonymous poll of the membership, to find out what everybody REALLY believes about BoM origins. The Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) confronted the “last taboo” a while ago. In my outsider/inactive/not-quite-apostate opinion, the future viability of the Church hinges on how it handles this issue.

    I loved the South Park episode. There are so many reasons to value the Mormon experience, despite all the old “It’s all true or it’s the biggest fraud ever rhetoric…” That idea is the real fraud!

  8. Aaron Brown says:

    I watched this episode last night too. I have come to really like South Park, although my wife can’t stand it. I used to think the show was hit and miss, and it probably still is, but I have grown to like it more and more over time.

    Beavis and Butthead is still a better show, however.

    I never saw the Super Best Friends episode, but the “orientation in Hell” episode (where it’s revealed that Mormonism was the “correct” religion) is one of the funniest all-time T.V. moments.

    Which is the episode where the missionaries on the skislope talk about peepstones? Funny stuff.

    Aaron B

  9. Which is the episode where the missionaries on the skislope talk about peepstones?

    There is no such South Park episode.

  10. Phouchg says:

    I believe the “missionaries on the ski slopes” thing was a sketch on SNL in February 2002 as the Olympics were in Salt Lake. IIRC, Dan Akyroyd made a cameo appearance in that sketch.

  11. Nice post, Steve.

  12. Aaron Brown says:

    Phouchg — You’re surely right. I had confused the two shows in my mind.

    Aaron B

  13. When I first saw this and Gary says ‘suck my balls’ at the end I laughed so hard I think I ripped my spleen open.
    I heart South Park.
    Also the social benefits are rooted in doctrine which is significant to me and maybe part of the reason I stay.

  14. Where’s a good monkey to steal those peaches when you need one . . . .

    No monkey business, now! Just monkeying around. Hey Hey we’re the monkees . . . (favorite snack: peaches!)

  15. Bro. Jones says:

    The important lesson is, “If the faith-promoting history isn’t 100% true, do we still have something to belive in?” Answer is yes, both to the bigger thought and the subtle implication that the faith-promoting stuff is sometimes of questionable accuracy.

  16. jjohnsen says:

    The last quote is so true. My level of belief has gone all over the scale during my life, but in the end it makes my family and I happy.

  17. Hmm. I thought the final speech that Gary gave was actually a bit of a cop-out. This is a tradition in Southpark, the final “what-did-we-learn-this-episode” speech. Unlike Steve, I didn’t think this was Matt and Trey’s “argument” at all. I think it was just their way of giving a little nod and a wink and saying, “yeah, we mocked the Mormons, but maybe they’re not so bad, blah blah blah.” I don’t think it was meant to take anything away from the mockery.

    I also thought it was very funny, though.

  18. Gilgamesh says:

    By far the best part of the episode is where the Harrisons tell Stan’s family the “proof” that the Book of Mormon is true by recounting the 116 page manuscript story, and Stan stares at them blankley, and says, “…Wait. Mormons actually know this story and they still believe Joseph Smith was a prophet?”

    To me, that blank stare is the same as any Evangelical that thinks they can un-brainwash me by proving the supremecy of the Bible. The world just doesn’t get the fact that we are an educated, informed people.

  19. Steve Evans says:

    Greg, I don’t think the speech was meant to diminish the mockery; rather, it was to put it in context — that is, to frame a crazy religion in light of what it actually tells people to do and what its effects actually are. And it was to tell judgmental people that they need to grow up.

    But they still think Martin Harris’ wife had the right idea.

  20. suck my balls.

    That is so me. Now I have a new obscene phrase in my repitwah.

  21. We are all such hipocrates and self-haters. We can understand and support the Native American assertion that Indian mascots are racist as well as being ethnically slanderous AND mocking. Deeply held sacrosanct beliefs, icons, objects and characters should be respected. Period.

    Have the years of LDS persecution seriously effected our self-esteem as Mormons? Is that why we go ahead and laugh when South Park mocks us? It’s WRONG to mock and degrade other’s religious beliefs-whether they be Muslim, Buddist, Christian, agnostic or atheist. In a tolerant world- we don’t accept this type of treatment, nor do we give it. I agree with BTD Greg, putting the little bow on the end of the episode DOESN”T erase the mockery anymore than a lynching is changed by saying ‘no hard feelings’ afterwards. HATRED and INTOLERANCE ARE UNACCEPTABLE.

  22. Tammy,

    Nah, in this case I accept it. If I get worked up about it nothing changes except me. I will continue to influence those around me on a personal level and hopefully they will respect the church I represent a little more because of it. I don’t have any grand aspirations as to how everyone around me needs to respect me and my religion. It’s not like they’re raping my wife or something. They’re calling Joseph Smith dumb for heaven’s sake… AND IT’S FUNNY!!! I just can’t get worked up about that.

  23. See, I don’t see this as hatred and intolerance. I see it as sort of over the top, sort of like anita Stansfield, only in a different direction.

  24. Seth R. says:

    annegb,

    I can’t remember how to spell “repitwah” correctly, but I think I like your version better.

  25. Is this good enough for us? Can we not care that we “believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense?” How much does it matter that “maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up,” given the Church’s teachings today and its capacity to draw us together and make us happy?

    It’s not good enough for me. I’m too much of a hedonist to follow Mormonism if it isn’t true. I’m pretty sure I could be pretty happy and family oriented without it.

  26. Flotsam says:

    The problem with that Mormon kid’s speech is: what happens when the Mormon thing doesn’t make you happy?

    If it ain’t true, then there’s nothing to worry about. Just go somewhere where you’re happy. But most Mormons I know won’t let you get away with that. Because it’s all supposed to be true.

    And that makes it even worse: What if it’s true and it doesn’t make you happy?

  27. Tammy, I don’t agree that the South Park depiction of Mormonism was hateful or intolerant. The makers of South Park don’t agree with us; that’s it. Furthermore, they used a factual argument drawn from our actual church history to explain why they think we’re wrong. They did this in a light, humorous context, and they did us the very real favor of representing Mormons as very, very good people.

    Is it intolerant to think that someone’s beliefs are wrong? I really can’t imagine that it is; but if it is, we need to recall all of our immensely intolerant missionaries. Or is it, perhaps, intolerant to make an argument in public about someone’s beliefs being wrong? I think that’s the area of primary concern. But, look, we (as people who have received the cultural heritage of the Scottish civil-society thinkers of several centuries ago) generally believe that open, reasoned discourse will lead most people to make the best decision. Are people going to fall away from the church because they find out the truth about how the Book of Mormon was produced (as shown by South Park)? Maybe. But if so, those people were being kept in the church by a lie in the first place, weren’t they?

    For most members, open discussion in which someone lays out their reasoned objections to our beliefs will probably mostly result in an increase in empathy for those who do not believe. I expect, though, that most of us have divinely-based convictions behind our faith that aren’t going to be rattled by a little frank discourse. So there’s really nothing to worry about here.

    Also, South Park makes me laugh.

  28. I loved this episode – very funny, and fairly flattering, all things considered. Mormons ended being depicted as a family-oriented, charitable, and clean people who believe oddly but act in the best way. Considering Scientologists were portrayed as fruity cultists who mess with people’s brains and destroy their lives, we came off rather well.

    It does matter to me if it is all true or not. I believe it is, which is why I’m here.

  29. Great everyone. They are funny, so that makes it all ok. You know, some of the Nazi’s officiating concentration camps thought they were a crack ups too. Doesn’t justify anything in my eyes.

    Also- my idea of being tolerant of other’s religious beliefs includes being able to sit down and discuss issues respectfully. Repeated personal slanders (like calling someone ‘DUMB’ or repeatedly mocking a religious minority) are NOT part of a productive conversation. Are we so backboneless that we would laugh at ANY minorty, denomination or individual? This was a litmus test that I picked up in a legal training course which illuminates hidden biases. Fill in the blank.

    _______ is/are DUMB and a liar(s). (Jews, blacks, homosexuals, Japanese, Amish, Catholics, blind, deaf, brown-eyed, blue-eyed, Mormons, Nigerians, Brazilians, Polish, etc.)

    The next question becomes- do we think that the S.P. creators are farting around, or have they crossed an important line and continue to do so intentionally for kicks and giggles and a sizeable profit?

    To answer this question, I’d take into consideration the creators of S.P. and their association to the church. It’s not as though they are ‘neutral bystanders’ who don’t have sour grapes AND an ax to grind. I’ll acknowledge the bias, but still hold them equally accountable for their actions- as I would a person with any other previous history.

    Also, while ‘they aren’t raping your wife’, name calling and repeated mocking isn’t healing, productive, funny or acceptable. I’m not laughing b/c I’m a Jew and have paid attention to the lessons of the past. Jews were called ‘sewer rats’ first in German propoganda films, remember? Wait, were we supposed to give the filmakers slack based proportionally on ‘how funny’ they were? (That was sarcasm.) Don’t you see the intolerance and hatred?

    Theoretically, if you wanted to spread those attitudes around today, it is far less sucessful to do so as a Neo-Nazi or a KKK member who blatantly propogates hatred. It WOULD be much more successful if the ideas were subtle- just a little here and there- masked with a joke or a quasi-apology. Still, you would have intimated what you wanted. I DON’T believe that the basal feelings of the S.P. creators are being disseminated after a careful examination and reflection. I think these raw emotions are spilling over and are also . . . unacceptable.

    While I realize that I’ve used a really heinous part of history to bring this much smaller issue to light, I hope that it at least helps us all reflect on the societal ethics of what is happening here. Maybe someone can help me find a better measuring stick for addressing such situations, because I’m really not buying the ‘if it’s funny, it’s ok’ one- or the ‘if it’s shy of rape, it’s ok’ or the ‘I don’t want to let it upset me, ’cause I’ll loose my cool in front of my non-LDS friends’ one. Until then, I’m adopting a ‘no tolerance’ for intolerance standard. (As a matter of fact- I could loose my job if I did anything less at work.) Being nondiscriminatory doesn’t mean getting all freaked out- but it does mean that I don’t have to watch such programs, and I can definately stand up and say, ‘dude– that is so not cool!’. I can even say, “that’s WRONG!”

    Here’s another question. Would you be ticked off at a jerk who mocked your wife on national tv, repeatedly? Would you still tune in every night at 6pm cause “it was funny”? Let’s say that she hadn’t said anything about it- so you wouldn’t know one way or the other. Would you still do it? If so, what would that say about your perception of your wife, your relationship, and your respect for her?

    You mentioned that you don’t want to ‘change’ yourself and you want to continue to be a good example for your non-LDS friends. I wonder what a non-mo would think of your example and your perception of the value of the church, when they saw it treated it with such casual distain? Are you just hoping they don’t notice- perhaps they are unobservant friends?

    This is not for me, but if anyone is out there who feels and decides differenly, I acknowledge your right to be so.
    –Tammy

  30. BTW,
    I don’t buy the ‘if I throw in some historical facts, discrimination, hatred and intolerance are ok’ standard either.
    Tammy

  31. MikeInWeHo says:

    Tammy,

    I’m not sure comparing South Park to Nazi and KKK propoganda advances your argument, for what it’s worth. It’s not like these guys are only picking on the Mormons. Their whole schtick is to send up just about EVERYONE. I just don’t see “intolerance and hatred” in South Park.

    And anyway, what’s to be done even if we do find them utterly offensive? Ban them? Riot in the streets until we scare them into submission?

  32. MikeInWeHo,

    I know the comparison is simply theoretical- and I made it intentionally to stretch the argument to the furthest conclusions and draw similarities and differences. It is an interesting thought.

    Good question. What if they are offensive? They have free speech, so there isn’t a lot TO do. If there are any legal eagles blogging, they might have more insight into slander and liable, hate speech, etc. For the most part it is not worth fighting.

    I suggested being proactive and positive by doing the folloing three things:
    1) Don’t watch
    2) Speak up and say, ‘that’s not cool’
    3) Go out on a limb and even say, “that’s wrong”.

    I could add
    4) don’t buy their products.
    5) Don’t blog about how it’s so funny anyway.
    6) Someone create or find a hilarious program to watch instead.

    Just some thoughts.

  33. Tammy:

    They are funny, so that makes it all ok. You know, some of the Nazi’s officiating concentration camps thought they were a crack ups too. Doesn’t justify anything in my eyes.

    Are you really comparing the atrocities of the holocaust to a cartoon depiction of Joseph Smith (I must add: put to music!)??????

    Repeated personal slanders (like calling someone ‘DUMB’ or repeatedly mocking a religious minority) are NOT part of a productive conversation.

    Are we talking about a cartoon or a documentary here?

    Are we so backboneless that we would laugh at ANY minorty, denomination or individual?

    No, but we can enjoy some fun humor that everyone is thinking, but nobody has the guts to say.

    The next question becomes- do we think that the S.P. creators are farting around, or have they crossed an important line and continue to do so intentionally for kicks and giggles and a sizeable profit?

    Maybe kicks and giggles (isn’t that what comedies are about?), but I doubt $$ was a big factor behind the Mormon episodes. I’m pretty sure they knew a large percentage of their audience wouldn’t find it funny. In fact, I bet Mormons are far more likely to find it humorous.

    To answer this question, I’d take into consideration the creators of S.P. and their association to the church.

    What association? They had several LDS friends in Highschool (Matt’s girlfriend in HS was LDS). Is this enough to be considered having an “association to the church”?

    It’s not as though they are ‘neutral bystanders’ who don’t have sour grapes AND an ax to grind.

    As mentioned they had several LDS friends in HS growing up (in Denver). From what they have said, they really liked these friends and saw them as great people.

    I’ll acknowledge the bias,

    A good bias?

    Also, while ‘they aren’t raping your wife…

    Or killing jews.

    name calling and repeated mocking isn’t healing, productive, funny or acceptable.

    I’ll give you that they weren’t doing any healing, but why should we expect that from a comedy. I found it pretty productive, funny, and acceptable though.

    I’m not laughing b/c I’m a Jew and have paid attention to the lessons of the past. Jews were called ’sewer rats’ first in German propoganda films, remember? Wait, were we supposed to give the filmakers slack based proportionally on ‘how funny’ they were? (That was sarcasm.) Don’t you see the intolerance and hatred?

    Are you arguing that this episode is a prelude to a Mormon holocaust? I’m confused.

    I think these raw emotions are spilling over and are also . . . unacceptable.

    Raw emotions?

    While I realize that I’ve used a really heinous part of history to bring this much smaller issue to light, I hope that it at least helps us all reflect on the societal ethics of what is happening here.

    I think you did a great disservice to those who suffered in the holocaust.

    Tammy, if I came to you one day and told you that I was able to discover one of Abraham Lincoln’s grocery lists by placing a stone (that I found in my garden) into a hat, you would go home and tell others about about the nutcase you ran across and his stupid story. If I had a friend with me that backed me up, you would be calling that person or whatever. I seriously doubt you would be thoughtful and respectful of my claims.

    This last comment reminds me of an experience on my mission. My mission president (now Elder Workman of the seventy) banned FARMS publications because of an article (by Noel Reynolds?) about Joseph Smith using the seerstones and a hat to translate the BofM. I remember him saying, “That’s just stupid. We know Joseph Smith didn’t use such ridiculous nonsense to translate the BofM!” I just sat back and shook my head.

    I am a big South Park fan. Compared to other treatments of religions and non-religionists, they treated Mormon very kindly (who can forget the depiction of a group of atheists sitting around and literally crapping out of their mouths – it wasn’t until my fifth or sixth time watching it that I caught the metaphor). It is by far the best social commentary in the Media today – besides MAYBE the Daily Show .

  34. I think the backlash against Tammy is somewhat unwarranted. Her arguments aren’t necessarily bad; she’s just dressed them up with a little too much hyperbole, I think.

    In fact, this whole post reminds me of when a white guy sees a black comic and the black comment starts talking about how white men can’t dance or talk with a nasally voice or whatever stereotype seems funniest. I’m always amazed at how many white guys will laugh heartily as if to say: “That’s right! We can’t dance! He’s so incisive with his stereotypical humor! We white people are a bunch of goofballs on the dance floor who talk funny, aren’t we?” It’s self-hating at its worst, I think.

    I like South Park, often in spite of myself. But I think their treatment of religion is always a little reckless, and more so than most of the other “topics” they deal with. And I think that the last little speech by the Mormon boy was a pretty big cop-out for 21.5 minutes of not-so-good-natured jabs at Mormons. (Compare that with the euthanasia episode where both sides got equal time to look absurd.) I also think it’s a little weird that we’re not outraged that we got treated badly; we’re instead releived that they didn’t treat us as poorly as they have other religions.

  35. Loyd,

    I’ll back up, since philosophical parallels are sometimes taken too literally by those who aren’t theorists- let me explain further.

    Tammy:

    They are funny, so that makes it all ok. You know, some of the Nazi’s officiating concentration camps thought they were a crack ups too. Doesn’t justify anything in my eyes.

    Are you really comparing the atrocities of the holocaust to a cartoon depiction of Joseph Smith (I must add: put to music!)?

    My point here was to highlight (in an extreme case) why the REASONING behind the ‘but, it’s funny’ argument doesn’t fly. I explained in post 32 that this was a theoretical comparison, not a literal one. I never said that the two situations were equatable, nor did I compare the two in any way whatsoever except to point out a similar vein of intolerance through mockery in pre-war propoganda and current films depicting intolerance through mockery. That’s it. I also used the exaggerated and theoretical example to expose the logic behind the ‘it’s funny’ argument and show that that is not a justification of itself. When we use that line of reasoning in other situations, it falls apart. No, I’m not equating a cartoon to this terrible part of history, but I am pointing out that the thoughts and processes can and do have similar illogical responses and similarly unacceptable speech.

    *Repeated personal slanders (like calling someone ‘DUMB’ or repeatedly mocking a religious minority) are NOT part of a productive conversation.

    Are we talking about a cartoon or a documentary here?

    While S.P. is technically a ‘cartoon’ it certainly isn’t a children’s ‘cartoon’. Yes, it is fictional. However, literature, fiction, art, etc. are ALSO often vehicles for societal values and beliefs. The former President of the Cz Republic was by profession a playwrite, who carried on a resistence to the communist regime through the symbolism and plots woven into his writing. Visual, performing and literary arts have the ability to express enormous amounts of information. “A picture is worth a 1000 words”. Just b/c the S.P. writers offer this information in a cartoon means what? They are using a more effective mode of communication.


    Are we so backboneless that we would laugh at ANY minorty, denomination or individual?

    No, but we can enjoy some fun humor that everyone is thinking, but nobody has the guts to say.

    *What? I’m lost on your logic here. We are secretly thinking of laughing at minorities etc.? Are you?

    The next question becomes- do we think that the S.P. creators are farting around, or have they crossed an important line and continue to do so intentionally for kicks and giggles and a sizeable profit?

    Maybe kicks and giggles (isn’t that what comedies are about?), but I doubt $$ was a big factor behind the Mormon episodes. I’m pretty sure they knew a large percentage of their audience wouldn’t find it funny. In fact, I bet Mormons are far more likely to find it humorous.

    *They still earn money for each episode- and the amount they get is nothing to scoff at. They still have contracts- they still are earning money and curiously- they have repeated LDS bashing in many episodes and in movies. Hey, if it works . . .

    To answer this question, I’d take into consideration the creators of S.P. and their association to the church.

    What association? They had several LDS friends in Highschool (Matt’s girlfriend in HS was LDS). Is this enough to be considered having an “association to the church”?

    *Your story is far different from the background information that I’ve received about them. Since neither of us know them, the only way to sort it out would be to contact them or their parents.

    Also, while ‘they aren’t raping your wife…

    Or killing jews.

    Touche!


    name calling and repeated mocking isn’t healing, productive, funny or acceptable.

    I’ll give you that they weren’t doing any healing, but why should we expect that from a comedy. I found it pretty productive, funny, and acceptable though.

    Again, I disagree with the ‘but its ok if it’s funny’ line of thinking, so we’re gonna have to agree to disagree on this.

    I’m not laughing b/c I’m a Jew and have paid attention to the lessons of the past. Jews were called ’sewer rats’ first in German propoganda films, remember? Wait, were we supposed to give the filmakers slack based proportionally on ‘how funny’ they were? (That was sarcasm.) Don’t you see the intolerance and hatred?

    Are you arguing that this episode is a prelude to a Mormon holocaust? I’m confused.

    *NO! I said nothing of the sort. I’m saying that the propoganda films which mocked Jews were unacceptable AS ARE cartoons which mock Mormons. Mocking a reliogious group, minority, ethic group, etc. is unacceptable. I didn’t make any further connection other than to point out a similar vein in what I consider two disgusting films.

    I think these raw emotions are spilling over and are also . . . unacceptable.

    Raw emotions?

    *What? Should I have used ‘carefully considered, researched and articulated’ instead of ‘raw’? I don’t see that level of refinement in S.P. Is there another adjective that should be used here? Perhaps ‘base’,’crass’ or ‘improvised’ ?

    While I realize that I’ve used a really heinous part of history to bring this much smaller issue to light, I hope that it at least helps us all reflect on the societal ethics of what is happening here.

    I think you did a great disservice to those who suffered in the holocaust.

    No, I don’t think so. I carry the highest respect and reverence for those who suffered and were killed as well as their families. I also think that we should be using it to reflect and to educate each other on the tragic outcomes of hatres and intolerance. I think that the Holocaust was an abominable part of mankind’s history and our century. The lessons which are being taught by survivors and those who have taken it upon themselves to assist, museums, libraires, educators, authors, etc. are ‘never again’ and ‘always remember’. One of the lessons sadly learned from the past and the present- in genocides across the globe- is that hatred, intolerance and mockery towards those who are different is a sad, but consistent component. Also, there are MANY lessons an observant student of history can learn from the past (as supported by holocaust educational foundations, museums, etc.) These lessons range from the monumental to the small. One of the recurring themes is a plea for more inter-faith, inter-racial, inter-ethnic, RESPECT and TOLERANCE. While most of us aren’t going to be major international leaders, our ability is too apply attitudes of respect and tolerance in our daily lives and with whomever our ‘neighbor’ might be is important. As an educator AND and descendant- I believe that we not only have the right, but the obligation to reflect, compare, analyze and study that very tragic perioid from the past.

    Tammy, if I came to you one day and told you that I was able to discover one of Abraham Lincoln’s grocery lists by placing a stone (that I found in my garden) into a hat, you would go home and tell others about about the nutcase you ran across and his stupid story. If I had a friend with me that backed me up, you would be calling that person or whatever. I seriously doubt you would be thoughtful and respectful of my claims.

    *You don’t have the right to speak for me or assume what I’d do. You also don’t know me and there are MANY MANY MANY ways to address that situation (if one is creative) besides resorting to crude mockery, name-calling and belief-bashing. I’m sure that if you put your mind to it, you could think of a few of them yourself.

    I am a big South Park fan. Compared to other treatments of religions and non-religionists, they treated Mormon very kindly

    *We are going to have to agree to disagree here as well. I appreciate the chance to discuss different opinions with you and thank you for listening and responding. I have learned that you bring another voice to the table which simply looks at these situations differently. Thanks for sharing.

  36. Elisabeth says:

    Jimbob – it’s true, white men can’t dance. Justin Timberlake makes a good show of it though.

    Tammy – whoa. As you know, a few months ago, hundreds of people flew into murderous rages because of a cartoon of the prophet Muhammed. There is an obligation for both sides to be respectful and not to blow jokes (disrespectful as they may be) out of proportion.

  37. Jacob’s black friend came over and they danced to some tune on the telly. Jacob was all hands and feet; Kevin — who is 6 — had serious rhythm. I mean, he was an awesome dancer. It’s innate. End of story.

  38. Elisabeth,

    I’m not sure you’re correct.

    http://www.chortler.com/23666whitemen.shtml

  39. Elisabeth says:

    LOL – I love that video! The Numa Numa dancer was awesome, too.

  40. Tammy:

    here is quote from an interview BYU’s Daily Universe did with Matt Stone.

    While neither Stone nor Parker are Latter-day Saints, they both have had many Mormon influences in their lives.

    “We both grew up in Colorado around Mormon people,” Stone said. “My best friend was Mormon and Trey used to date a Mormon girl in high school.”

    Stone said the LDS people they grew up around left a lasting impression on them.

    Stone did not grow up in a religious family and said some of his first religious experiences were with his good friend’s family.

    “They would pray together as a family,” Stone said. “I found it weird but fascinating.”

    Perhaps what perturbed me the most about your comment was that Stone and Parker must be Mormon and have an axe to grind. It’s a different version of the old “Musician X must be Mormon because he is so evil” Mormon gossip (I’ve heard X as Alice Cooper, Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson, Billy Corgan, and a dozen more).

    What I love about South Park is that they are willing to say openly what most everyone is two-faced about. I’m sorry but the Joseph Smith story does sound ridiculous. A guy translating an ancient book with a couple rocks in a hat is a stupid story. Our church leaders confirmed that the story seems stupid and far-fetched when they purposely ommitted it from their new Joseph Smith movie (replacing it with the dishonest depiction of Smith reading the plates like a book). As I’ve already said, I’ve had many friends come to me telling me that translating from a hat was stupid (only to find out that is how Smith did it). The point remains that, real or not) these stupid stories are valuable in the lives of religious believers.

    Stone and Parker have no axe to grind, no raw emotions to let out, they have a funny story and some social commentary to let out. They are equal-opportunity offenders and I’d be offended if they thought we were so damn prudish that they couldn’t poke some fun in our direction.

  41. Elisabeth says:

    Ronan – are you generalizing based on your own experiences? We’ve already well established right here on this very blog that such inadequate statistical sampling inevitably leads to fallacious results.

  42. I’ve asked this before, but I don’t remember the answer. Does Godwin’s Law apply in the bloggernacle? If not, it should. Maybe we should have a poll.

  43. Elisabeth #41, ouch?

    Ann, here, here!

    Tammy, as I recall the episode, the South Park people didn’t call Mormons dumb. Instead, I think they called certain actions by some historical Mormons dumb. That’s part of their rationale for disagreeing with us. And I can’t imagine a rule that would automatically forbid thinking of actions as dumb.

    I think that many Mormons have a kind of norm in which anyone who spells out reasons for disagreeing with us must be committing a hate act against us. But we spell out reasons for disagreeing with other religions all the time, don’t we?

  44. it most definitely does Ann. as for your “suggestion” for a poll, I believe the Fuhrer also relied heavily on polls as a way of tightening his iron grip over Germany. Think about that.

  45. Elisabeth says:

    Sorry, RT. I just couldn’t bear Ronan’s racist remarks.

  46. Elisabeth, I actually thought your comment was a joke at my insistence on good sampling in the Kelly thread! In any case, either and/or both of us deserved it!

  47. What’s Godwin’s law?

    I’m basically going around telling people to suck my balls these days. They look at me and don’t say anything, but I know they’re thinking, “she doesn’t have any balls.”

    Nah, just making that up.

  48. Godwin’s Law basically says he who invokes the Holocuast loses.

    It may be more complicated than that, but that’s how I remember it.

  49. Godwin’s Law says that any online discussion in which Hitler or the Nazis are invoked will quickly come to an irrelevant conclusion, and that–as the length of the conversation grows–the probability of such a comparison trends toward 1. The normative implication of Godwin’s Law is just as Crystal says: the person who first mentions the Nazis can be assumed to be arguing in bad faith and therefore loses the debate.

    It’s actually unclear to me that this implication fully applies to the current thread. But Godwin’s Law did hold; we’re no longer discussing South Park, but instead discussing Godwin’s Law!!!

  50. I think that Tammy is right in the sense that religion and other transcendent matters belong to the realm where people have to agree to disagree. Since there is no reasonable way to determine which religious view is correct, one can only tolerate religious diversity or resort to violence. If we don’t want violence then we need to uphold tolerance.

    Having said that, religion does not shield us from responsibility for our beliefs. I have the freedom to believe hateful and stupid things. That does not give me the right to act on such beliefs. Nor can I reasonably demand silence in the name of religious tolerance when I proclaim such beliefs.

    More generally, the quality of any faith can only improve when it is exposed to questioning. Surely, our faith can bear enquiry. If not, it wasn’t much of a faith anyways.

  51. #49 Thanks for explaining Goodwin’s law, RT. He is right in a lot of cases. It seems to me, however, that there are others when Hitler is relevant and useful. That would apply when we need to consider a certain set of extreme circumstances.

    The homicide exception of tyrannicide comes to mind. It would be absurd to conclude that supporters of tyrannicide lose the debate because they invoke the example of Bonhoeffer and Hitler.

  52. Hellmut–of course there are discussions in which the Nazis are relevant. The crucial question, I think, is whether the conversation could plausibly be held without a Nazi reference. Discussions that are actually about totalitarianism, for example, can’t plausibly exclude Nazis. But discussions about satirical cartoons? Arguably could be had without any Nazi references. And therefore, perhaps, should be carried out without Nazi references?

  53. Left Field says:

    It’s a satirical cartoon, so I’m not too surprised that it engages in satire. I’m more surprised that people would formulate their views of the church around it. If I espouse or respect only those beliefs and values that can’t be ridiculed on South Park, it wouldn’t leave me with much.

    I have to confess that I’ve only ever seen a few minutes of South Park, but nothing about it made me inclined to watch more. The voices are annoying and nearly unintelligible. The animation is poor. And in my small sample size, I didn’t see anything that struck me as amusing. If I wanted annoying voices and unfunny dialogue, I could watch reruns of The Nanny. So, for me, the humor doesn’t do anything to mitigate the mockery. Nevertheless, I don’t lose any sleep over it. Satire is… well, satire. Evidently, others have a different sense of humor. I find The Simpsons, Married with Children, and Third Rock from the Sun to be similarly unfunny. (I know; I’m sure there’s more recent unfunny shows, but I have a 6-year-old and haven’t seen much grown-up TV in a very long time.)

  54. I saw the episode, it was pretty funny but the one I truly loved is when all these people are in hell and they are going, “But why am I here, I was a devout Protestant.” and the others are “And I was a devout Jehovah Witness.” and the guy goes, “Yes, the correct answer was Mormon.” I almost died. Too funny.

  55. #52 I agree with that, RT. Beyond that it might be useful to test hypotheses or institutional arrangements under extreme circumstances.

  56. i loved this episode! i love just about every episode, but i always look forward to the re-runs of this one…however, my husband who was converted a few months ago, and doesn’t have the strongest testimony laughs too…then i have to separate the fact from fiction/exageration for him…but it’s still funny ;-)
    btw, i love everyone’s comments on this, i was wondering what other members (who secretly watch SP) thought…hahaha ;-)

  57. This is hands down one of the best episodes ever. But is it true? I’m afraid of spreading this episode as an actual account of mormons…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,657 other followers