WaPo Spends the Lord's Day Celebrating Religion-Bashing 'South Park' Duo

The Washington Post obviously doesn't observe the idea that Sunday is the Lord's Day. It's apparently the Atheist's Day. The  entire top half of the front page of the April 3 Sunday Arts section is an enormous picture of "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Just below the fold is a huge headline: "No, nothing is sacred." Another huge picture of Parker and Stone is inside, dominating most of E-7. The text around these publicity shots [Jennifer Altman for The Washington Post] is another promotional piece by Post theatre critic Peter Marks. Saying their new play "The Book of Mormon" actually "deserves worship" wasn't enough. A second helping of goo is required.

Marks wrote a rerun, where again he claims Parker and Stone have great reverence for the classic Broadway musical -- that they're putting through a South Park shredder. The real point is mocking faith:

Dogma tied to faith of any kind, the musical’s creators seem to be saying, can be funny; their vehicle happens to be an example of it made in America. "It’s weird, because I was thinking of doing a Mormon musical before meeting them," said Robert Lopez, the indispensable third leg of the "Mormon" writing triangle and one of the creative forces behind "Avenue Q."

...Meeting later with Lopez, the three found that though none of them is a Mormon, they shared a fascination with the religion. Parker and Stone grew up around it in Colorado, and Lopez was drawn to it because of a deep interest in religion and his own struggles with faith.

"I think many people who are religious have to come to some sense of ease with the tenets of their faith, and living in a modern society requires you to suspend your disbelief," Lopez said, adding that he thinks it is possible to reconcile a church’s teachings and the realities of daily existence, "once you step away from the need for scripture to make logical sense."

"The Book of Mormon" pokes fun at the confidence anyone might harbor in a literal interpretation of a genesis story — in this instance the tale of Mormonism’s founding in 19th-century America. Sprinkled throughout the evening is a series of reenactments that posit religion as the domain of men who are more deluded than holy. In presenting such provocative tableaux, the musical seems to be pursuing a wish — that everyone should just lighten up — that may be unattainable.

"People who are hard-line," Lopez noted, "shouldn’t see it." 

Marks and other South Park shoe-shiners don't seem to understand that Parker and Stone toe a hard line. Just because they giggle a lot and make butt jokes doesn't mean they aren't taking a very firm stand on the near-mental illness of religious people. They also fail to note that this pair is picking on people who don't fight back. If they wanted to make fun of a buffoonish religious figure, where is "Al Sharpton: The Musical"? It wouldn't happen because Sharpton would sue, and someone's building might get burned down.  Once again, Marks lets Parker and Stone celebrate the Mormon spokesmen for crumbling:

Surprisingly, perhaps, the church has not taken a hard line against the show, at least not so far. Weeks before the musical’s formal opening, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement in response to inquiries from the press: "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," the church said.

The reaction seemed to Stone a smart and dignified way to handle a comic treatment. "That’s exactly how a church should respond to criticism," he said. 

That sentence is unfinished. He meant to say "That's exactly how a church should respond to criticism...so we can make millions of dollars unobstructed."

Don't miss that this show has a serious political meaning for the gay lobby. As MTV.com reported last year, "It's a project the duo first announced back in 2008, after the passage of the gay-marriage-banning Proposition 8 in California (for which the Mormon Church campaigned heavily)."

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