Book of Mormon

August 7th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Book of Mormon tickets are sold out almost up to a year in advance, unless you pay around US$450 a ticket for premium tickets. On our first day in New York we checked the theatre out and by chance they were having their daily lottery, where for half an hour you enter into a draw and 11 sets of 2 tickets are drawn out, which you can buy for $32 only. There’s over 200 people queued up, so your chances are around 5%, and we didn’t win.

We saw Chicago instead, which was really good. But didn’t give up on seeing Book of Mormon, and so I headed down early Saturday morning to queue up and see if any tickets were available from overnight cancellations. Jackpot – there were. I managed to get two tickets in the very middle of the theatre just six rows from the front. Perfect. And the tickets were at a more affordable price, so all go.

The show was the funniest show I have ever been to in my life, and probably ever will go to. I can’t undersell how great it was – not just the humour, but the sets, the costumes, the script, the acting, the music. At the end of the show, all 1,100 in the audience gave a huge standing ovation.

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The musical won nine Tony awards, and was called the best musical of this century by a New York Times reviewer. It is by far the hardest show on Broadway to get tickets for.

The show was created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker of Southpark fan. However it is definitely not a musical version of Southpark. It is about two Mormon missionaries – the charismatic one with the huge future and the nerdy overweight one. Elder Price (The former one) is sure he is going to be posted to Orlando (his dream location) but instead gets Uganda with Elder Cunningham.

Their attempts to get the locals interested in the Book of Mormon, are hilarious. A highlight is when they are telling the locals how God cursed the Lamanites with black skin so they would not be so enticing to the Nephites (which is in the Book of Mormon). As their all black audience stares at them, they stutter and suggest they skip that part.

The villagers are more worried about AIDs, a local warlord that wants to circumcise all the women in the village, famine and poverty. Their way of coping with such gloom is to sing and chant “Hasa Diga Eebowai”. The mormon elders join in until they ask what it means and get told “Eebowai” means “God and “Hasa Diga” means “Fuck you”.

But don’t think this is an anti-mormon, or even anti-religious show. While it does mock and lampoon some of the proclamations in the Book of Mormon, it portrays Mormons as very kind well-intentioned people, and at the end of the show you have the villagers saying that they understand the book is about parables and metaphors, and not to be taken literally – so they should follow the intent, if not the the literal word.

The LDS Church has not condoned or condemned the show, and even advertise in the show programme suggesting people try the actual book, as being even better than the musical. It is a rare thing to hilariously lampoon a religion, but to do so in a way that is funny, not nasty, and even respectful in an obtuse way.

As I said, the show was beyond first class. If you plan to be in New York at any stage, then book tickets as far in advance as you can.

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The guy on the left is Matt Doyle who played Elder Price. He has a hilarious dream scene where he thinks he gets sent to hell due to his sins, and there he meets Jeffrey Dahlmer, a very gay leather clad Adolph Hitler, Genghis Khan and amusingly famed defence lawyer Johnnie Cochran.

It’s great the stars come out after the show to do autographs and photos.

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This is Cody Jamison Strand, who played Elder Cunningham. He succeeds where no-one else does, in converting the whole village to Mormonism. However he is a pathological liar, and having not read the Book of Mormon, he just invented his own. All goes well, until the LDS President visits to congratulate them, and the local village puts on a performance of their own based on Elder Cunningham’s teachings, without him knowing they planned to do this.

All I’ll say is I’ll never look on frogs the same again!

If Book of Mormon ever tours to New Zealand, I’ll be going again. Hell if I’m in New York again, I’ll try to go again. It really is the musical of the century.

 

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Now I want a Xbox

June 26th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve never wanted an Xbox, until now.

Conrad Reyners writes in the Herald:

Trey Parker and Matt Stone gave us some tantalising information on their new South Park title at Xbox’s E3 press conference; but they showed precious little actual gameplay.

Not to worry, we managed to secure access to a VIP Microsoft event where the lead developer and producer from Obsidian were demonstrating small scenes of what they’ve made so far. The title is, of course, still in its early stages, so we were forbidden from taking any pictures. But memory is a powerful thing, and there was enough on offer for us to get a general idea of how South Park: The Stick of Truth is shaping up.

It appears that, at its heart, The Stick of Truth will be a side-scrolling 2D title with significant RPG elements. Parker and Stone were adamant that the game would only proceed if the art style was the same as the TV episodes, and a 2D side-scrolling set up seems entirely appropriate.South Park was never “high brow”; it’s heartening to see that its creators feel the same way about its visual style. …

It looks like there will be a reasonable degree of sophistication in the title’s weapon loadout and customisation, systems that also suggested serious thought was being put into how the RPG mechanic works. There is a range of armour and weapons to choose from, and all of them come with Parker and Stone’s unique twist. For example, in lieu of a sword, your character can equip himself with Cartman’s mum’s dildo. Apparently it’s quite ferocious.

Heh.

The story itself is tightly anchored in the South Park universe. You play as the “New Kid” who must set about making friends in the quiet mountain town. Sent out onto the street to make friends (while your parents bang in their new bedroom), you have the misfortune of stumbling into Butters. He leads you to Cartman, who is engrossed in the most epic real-life fantasy role playing game ever devised; complete with his own “Camp” (his backyard), a “King’s Tower” (a ladder), a “Pool of Vision” (his paddling pool), and the “Royal Stables” (a sandbox with a mangy cat in it.)

Cartman’s camp is raided by other 4th graders, who make off with the eponymous stick, and Cartman sets about getting it back. We don’t know much more than this, apart from the fact that there are vampire kids and, according to the E3 presentation, Jesus turns up with an M16.

We also don’t know much about specific character customisation, but we do know that, in true RPG fashion, there are five classes to choose from; the mage, fighter, ranger, thief, and cleric. Again, Obsidian are covering all the bases and sticking to what’s worked before. But that’s to be expected; fans will be playing this title not because it is a standard turn-based RPG, but because it hums with the South Park vibe.

Parker and Stone are writing and voicing all the dialog, and it is reflected in the game’s idiosyncrasies. You level up from Douchebag to Butthole, for example, and Cartman abuses and taunts enemies during battle as only he can. In one particularly scandalous moment, your character is able to select a power attack. From nowhere saunters Mr. Slave who then sits on the enemy, swallowing them in his cavernous bottom. The producer politely described it as “South Park’s version of the banishment spell.”

I love South Park. I so have to get and play this.

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Southpark Censorship

April 25th, 2010 at 2:42 pm by David Farrar

Once again Comedy Central has censored Southpark. Four years ago they banned the show from being able to show from showing a harmless depiction of Muhammad (was just him giving someone a fish) in their Cartoon Wars episodes.

The episodes were about appeasing people who threaten violence is wrong, but it didn’t work. This time in episode 201 Comedy Central have even refused to allow the name of Muhammad, after the Southpark creators cunningly discussed him onside a bear costume.

This has nothing to do with religious tolerance. Comedy Central have allowed the show to show Jesus Christ defecating on an American flag. Their decisions are purely appeasement in the face of threatened violence from extremists. The sad thing is they don’t realise that what they do, encourages the extremists. It shows threatening violence wins.

In similar news, Reuters reports:

A Dutch court has acquitted a Muslim group of inciting hatred with a cartoon that questions the Holocaust, in the latest case to provoke debate about freedom of speech in the Netherlands.

The Arab European League (AEL), which published the cartoon on its website, was cleared of insulting Jews because it was not aiming to dispute the Holocaust but to highlight perceived double standards in free speech.

And that is the right ruling,

The AEL cartoon shows two men, beneath an ‘Auschwitz’ sign and beside several bodies, saying the victims might not have been Jewish but the target was six million – the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The AEL said the cartoon was part of a campaign it launched in 2006 to show “the double morals of the West during the Danish cartoon affair.” The image came with a disclaimer on the website saying the AEL did not support the views of the cartoon.

Except the AEL have been proven wrong about the double morals. No one has been killed, or even threatened over their Holocaust cartoon. There have been no burning of flags or storming of embassies.

The mad President of Iran tried to make a similar claim a few years ago by hosting a Holocaust cartoon competition. To his great dismay dozens of Jewish cartoonists submitted entries, rather than protest against it.

The best response to censorship is this:

After Comedy Central cut a portion of a South Park episode following a death threat from a radical Muslim group, Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris wanted to counter the fear. She has declared May 20th “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.”

“As a cartoonist I just felt so much passion about what had happened I wanted to kind of counter Comedy Central’s message they sent about feeling afraid,” Norris said.

Norris has asked other artists to submit drawings of any religious figure to be posted as part of Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor (CACAH) on May 20th.

On her website Norris explains this is not meant to disrespect any religion, but rather meant to protect people’s right to express themselves.

The best way to stop the Islamic extremists threatening violence unless you censor, is if the response to their threats is to triple and quadruple the number of outlets who show the cartoon.

It should be a point of principle for every media outlet in the free world, to show such images, to show that threats will not work.

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Kick a Ginger Day

November 26th, 2009 at 8:35 am by David Farrar

AP reports:

CALABASAS, California — Authorities say there were at least five attacks on red-haired students at a Southern California middle school after a Facebook group announced “Kick a Ginger Day.”

However, nobody was seriously hurt and no arrests were made.

How very stupid. They should know not to actually kick Gingas in case they catch Gingervitis.

Investigators say the Facebook message may have been inspired by a South Park TV episode that satirised racial prejudice by portraying a campaign against red-haired, fair-skinned “ginger” people.

Good grief. That episode aired in 2005. And back then it was also blamed.

In that episode, Cartman organises all the gingas to start killing non-gingas as they are not members of the master race. So will someone also blame Southpark for any murders of brunettes?

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Poneke on South Park

October 16th, 2008 at 11:47 am by David Farrar

Poneke blogs:

The 12th season of the riotously irreverent animated comedy series South Park begins its run on C4 tomorrow (Thursday) night at 9pm.

This season began in the US in March, and after an interval is still running. As there are only some 14 episodes a year, this show is a treat.

Just why it is buried on C4 is as big a mystery as why Flight of the Conchords was buried on Prime at 10pm on Monday nights. When South Park began here a decade ago, at least it was on TV3 which is accessible to far more viewers than C4.

I am a huge fan of South Park and it also puzzles me why it is only played on C4, and why they delay showing it so long after it shows in the US.

While my daughter, 15, loves South Park, having watched it since she was five, it is neither a children’s show nor a music show

Good God Poneke, you’ll have CYFS knocking on your door for that admission :-)

South Park, which was created by the geniuses Trey Parker and Matt Stone and became Comedy Central’s first big hit, gets stuck into every sacred cow going, from global warming to gay rights, Tom Cruise to child sexual abuse, religion to charity.

It is truly offensive to everyone, but in such a clever way you love it, instead of get offended.

Series 12 starts with Cartman getting AIDS after a tonsils operation and trying to infect Kyle with it before subsequent episodes move on to trash Brittney Spears and Mrs Garrison, the teacher who used to be Mr Garrison but now wants a penis back. Don’t ask, just watch.

The best 22 minutes of the week! :-)

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The true sign Russia is heading back to the dark side

September 9th, 2008 at 7:00 pm by David Farrar

The bastards want to ban South Park!

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BSA decisions

May 29th, 2008 at 12:15 am by David Farrar

TV3 tonight reported that a number of complaints by David Benson-Pope against TV3 (over the Dunedin South selection) were all rejected by the Broadcasting Standards Authority. This got me interested enough to go to the BSA website. Now sadly that decision is not yet up, but oh what fun it is to go through some of the other recent decisions. Where do I start?

How about this one, where a Martin Taylor complained about Jeremy Wells on Eating Media Lunch starting the programme by saying:

Good evening, kia ora, fuck your mother.

Now this is classic EML, and you wonder why someone would watch it if they were not going to enjoy Wells in your face offensiveness. But Mr Taylor said:

In Mr Taylor’s view, the comment was equivalent to the host “labelling me a ‘motherfucker’”.

TVNZ responded with the wonderful:

he was not suggesting that the audience literally “fucks their mother”.

Mr Taloyr then wrote to the BSA:

Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s decision, Mr Taylor referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He maintained that “sex with your own mother is not humorous in any context”,

Well personally what I am laughing at is the complaint itself. If all the complaints are like this, I’d love to be appointed to the BSA – it would be great fun.

Then another complaint against EML A Jim Brock complained:

I object to the way an erect penis was waved and whacked about in the forefront of the screen in the item satirising infomercials.

Alas the said penis was in fact only a dildo.

One also has a complaint about a 60 minutes item regarding Jackass imitations.

And finally we have a complaint against South Park. No not the Bloody Mary episode, but the “bi-curious one”. The BSA summarises the episode:

Another character then told Cartman that he was now gay and that the only way to “cancel out the gay polarity” was for Butters to put Cartman’s penis in his mouth. The following scene involved Cartman trying to trick Butters into allowing him to put his penis into Butters’ mouth. Cartman blindfolded Butters and told him that he had a “surprise” for him. Cartman then took down his pants and was about to put his penis into Butters’ mouth when Butters’ father walked into the room and saw what was happening. Butters was still blindfolded and he did not realise what Cartman had been trying to do to him. Believing his son was “bi-curious”, Butters’ father sent him to a Christian camp to “cure” him.

It was a hilarious episode. People either love or hate Southpark. It is crude and offensive but has some very sensible messages underlying it. This one was about tolerance, but anyway onto the complaint:

The complainant argued that the character Butters had been raped while asleep by the “fat child” (Cartman). PB maintained that “the fat child said he was going to give Butters some cough mixture so that he would go to sleep…and the fat child performed oral sex [on Butters] and took a photo”.

I suspect PB has never watched South Park before if he doesn’t know Cartman is not fat, just big boned!

TVWorks responded:

The broadcaster maintained that Cartman’s behaviour was always placed in a context that highlighted his lack of ethics, as opposed to trivialising his lack of ethics. It argued that although Butters was unknowingly suffering abuse at the hands of Cartman, an adult audience would take it for granted that this occurred between two eight-year-olds and not an adult and a child. It considered that while still immoral, this made the item less sinister.

TVWorks stated that “part of the comedy of Cartman’s character was the contrast between his sadistic nature and the innocence he has as an eight-year-old. It pointed out that Cartman was “initially naive to the impression that the photo of Butters’ penis in his mouth gave until his friends pointed out how it looked”.

The broadcaster pointed out that South Park was in its eleventh season and that it was “unlikely that any regular viewers would have been offended by the programme”.

I also note the following:

The complainant maintained that the episode contained rape and scenes of sexual violation, and that the actions of Cartman came under the broad definition of rape on the Wikipedia website.

Hmmn I like Wikipedia, but I’d rather not have it cited as the authority on what constitutes rape – as oppossed to the Crimes Act!

I am going to have to check out the BSA site more often.

And for all those who are offended by Eating Media Lunch and South Park – I respect the fact you find it offensive. I hope you will respect the fact that hundreds of thousands of people like myself find them bloody hilarious, and you of course have the option of simply just not watching them.

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A good BSA decision

March 31st, 2008 at 11:39 am by David Farrar

Very pleased to see the Broadcasting Standards Authority has again not given into pressure, and has not upheld complaints about Californication – just as they also did with Southpark.

I only started watching Californication after Family First started knocking out advertisers (something they are entitled to do), as I always regard the more a show is protested about, as a good guide for whether I will like it.

And the thing is, while the show has segments many find morally objectionable, such as a dream sequence with a nun and sex with a 16 year old, they are actually part of what is a well constructed plot. The sleeping with the 16 year old actually sets up a plot line throughout the entire first series, coping with the ramifications. And the lead character regrets doing it once he finds out her age (and more to the point funding out she is the daughter of his ex wife’s fiancee.

Southpark can be similiar. Yes it has some appallingly offensive scenes and language.  It  is often truly disgusting (just think Mr Hankey). But it often has a message behind its episodes, and many of the messages are good ones, that even religious and family groups would approve of  – such as  debunking the moral  panic over parents abusing their children. Of course there are some episodes, such as where Cartman tricks Scott Tenorman into eating his parents which don’t have much of a hidden message, except maybe don’t play tricks on people with an evil streak!

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South Park Season 12

March 22nd, 2008 at 5:55 pm by David Farrar

Season 11 of South Park has just finished on NZ TV, and with perfect timing Season 12 has started in the US.

In s12e01, Cartman gets HIV from donor blood during a tonsillitis operation. It’s actually got a bit of a serious theme – about how AIDs has declined in profile and fundraising despite the fact it is still killing so many people.  Basically it is a call to donate more money for research. The sick humour is there also though – Cartman injects Kyle with his blood so Kyle is motivated to help look for a cure.

In s12e02 it is far funnier, but still with a serious theme. They interrupt an Obama/Clinton debate with the latest Britney Watch bulletin showing her taking a leak in a forest.  It eviscerates the way the media have covered her breakdown as a commodity. Britney then blows off most of her head with a shotgun. The media just treat this as a new fashion look and keep up the coverage. Finally it ends with a pack of photographers hunting her down with satanic ritual overtones. She dies.

This is one of the reasons I like South Park.  Not just the gross humour, but that it can use humour so effectively to make an important point.

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