THE KILLOUGH CHRONICLES  | REVIEWS

by James Killough

Book of Mormon is all the rage.  Every so often a musical opens that all of New York is rapturous about, but none that I would agree are actually rapture-worthy.  I haven’t seen this production, nor have I listened to one note of a single song, yet I give it two thumbs and two large toes up.  I wasn’t interested in Rent, although the Trey Stone and Matt Parker send up in Team America — I laughed so hard I farted during “Everybody has AIDS” — is one of my top ten favorite comedies of all time.  I liked The Producers in the original 1968 movie with Zero Mostel and almost zero music; I watched half of the recent film version of the musical before I was overcome by homo self-loathing with the way Gheys were portrayed in that retarded, cliché-infested musical number about Gheys.  But I would probably never tire of Book of Mormon.

The "Keep It Gay" sequence from "The Producers," film version. Barf. This is everything I detest about musicals summed up in one picture. As the drag queens used to say back in the 80s, "it's so tired, honey." Never even got out of bed for me.

Aside from the fact that Trey Stone and Matt Parker and I have the same raunchy, compassionately irreverent approach to “sensitive” issues…. Well, that’s it, actually.  That’s the entirety of my affinity with them.  There is no “aside.”  The guys are genius, they deserve their success, may some of it float this way.

My evil twin Andrew Sullivan said after seeing Book of Mormon, “Religion is both insane and necessary at the same time.”  At first I re-dubbed him my twit twin Andrew Sullivan until I had a good think about this statement.  

As an orthodox atheist, who nevertheless has spent a fair amount of time on an esoteric spiritual path (albeit one that is intrinsically atheistic), I can’t agree that religion is a necessary insanity, not with the murderous behavior that particular form of insanity can spawn.  Given that he is a conservative Ghey and practicing Catholic, which is insane in itself, I know that what Andrew Sullivan means by “necessary” isn’t what I would mean by necessary, but it’s not worth dwelling on that difference because this is my blog and I will win the discussion by forfeit.  And what I really want to talk about is not kinky Bottom Bitch Sullivan, but the chicest, most Now People on the planet: Mormons.

Being that it was a fictional dramatization, it’s easy to see HBO’s Big Love as having been somehow removed from real life, and therefore no more relevant to what is going on out there on Planet Utah than True Blood is to Louisiana.  The TLC reality series Sister Wives, which follows a similar “polig” family, is something else altogether.  I’m only about six episodes into the first of two seasons, but I am absolutely charmed and convinced that theirs is one of the best social structures possible, and that it is a crime that polygamy is outlawed. Not to mention dangerous: most children of plural marriages are born at home in case the father is arrested at the hospital, which would be a disaster for such intensely patriarchal families.

The fictional Hendricksons from "Big Love" (left) and the real Mr. & Mrs. & Mrs. & Mrs. & Mrs. Kody Brown from "Sister Wives."

This particular family, the Browns, is the most genuinely happy family I have ever seen.  It’s not like the adults are faking it for the cameras and they will be unmasked in future episodes.  No doubt they will face strains and hardships like any family, but those thirteen kids (about to be augmented to sixteen with the addition of the incoming fourth wife’s children from a previous marriage) are truly happy.  I was the poster child for miserable child, I should know.  Imagine growing up with absolute love in a padded nest of other children more or less your age, all half-brothers and sisters, all helping out to raise each other like its one big game of Pretend House, and the chances of you ever becoming that small child’s biggest nightmare, an orphan, are next to impossible given how many parents there are.

The undisputed star of the show is the patriarch, Kody Brown.  What a hunk.  What a stud.  Raised on a farm, he literally has a stud’s attitude towards family: breed those mares as often and as plentifully as possible.  Kody is an Arbrahamic character reborn as a relentlessly cheerful metrosexual advertising salesman in Utah.  Dig this: for the twentieth anniversary of his marriage to his first wife, he offers her in-vitro fertilization as a gift.  This is a man with monomaniacal focus on breeding.  Poor gal is 40, she’s already co-raising sixteen children and holding down a full-time job.  True, only one of those children is actually her biological child, but still.  She declines the offer, but later in the show Kody says he thinks she’ll change her mind. Wow. You. Go. Stud.

Kody Brown with Mrs. Brown the Fourth. I would be very happy sharing a prison cell with that.

The fact these marriages aren’t considered legal and equal to monogamous marriages is almost worse than the ban on gay marriage, especially given that the rights and safety of so many children are at stake.  I would sooner take up the polygamist rights cause than the gay marriage cause just based on the children’s rights issue.  These are true breeders, they are good at it, they are a model family.  While I strongly defend the rights of Gheys and Lesbotons to be parents — and I strongly believe that we make great parents when we are so inclined — if nature made us this way, which it did, it also didn’t give us the ability to reproduce with each other.  Maybe children aren’t part of evolution’s divine plan for Gheys?  Dunno.  But that’s for another Blogirade.

It has to be said that religious folk like the Browns are a hell of a lot nicer than atheists in general.  We atheists tend to be a snarky, mischievous bunch, the kids at the birthday party who enjoyed popping balloons before the party was over, the first to tell the others that Santa doesn’t exist just to watch their expressions and hope they cry.  What is endearing about fundamentalist Mormons like the Browns is they pray with their arms folded and their heads down, like sullen children who refuse to accept the truth about Santa.

An illustration from a Mormon handbook on how to pray. "Heavenly Father, if you don't give me what I want, I'm going to sit here and hold my breath until…"

At the end of the day, when you see families like the Browns, it doesn’t matter how insane religion is, or how much more insane Mormonism is than traditional Christianity, or Judaism, or Hinduism, or any of it.  If anything, Bottom Bitch Sullivan is somewhat right: Mormonism gleefully highlights how absurd the whole thing is, with their Angel Moroni leading the boisterous parade of asylum inmates, twirling and tossing his baton as high as he can.  What matters is the example the Browns set as parents and what they are passing on to their children.  Sister Wives is something of a morality tale, which tells us that what is paramount is how you live your life, how you do unto others.  The children are brought up with a very liberal attitude toward religion, and are even free to chose atheism if they wish.  My feeling is if they have such a good experience growing up in one lifestyle, they are likely to embrace it as adults.  Ain’t much better than that out there, kids.

We could just as easily be looking at a polygamist Muslim family; the prophet of Islam enjoined you to have as many wives as you wish, as long as you treat them equally.  And Kody Brown certainly seems to do that.  Indeed, there are a lot of similarities between Mohammed and Joseph Smith: both screwed up earlier versions of their holy books, both took advice from angels, etcetera.  However, Mormonism is very much beside the point in Sister Wives, much more so than in Big Love.  It’s about the principle of polygamy, and I for one have seen the light.

We have a Schizo of the Week!  I am very relieved.  I thought I had one on Sunday, which was exactly a week after my last declaration of a winner.  He was a magnificent specimen.  I spotted him in the 7-Eleven on Cahuenga and Yucca, which is like a birdbath for the local loonies because it’s right across the street from the ultra-glamorous Halifax Apartments, a Hollywood apartment building much like the shithole I’m living in, erected for aspiring actors in the Golden Era, but now turned into low-income housing.  While I was paying for a full-fat something, in flew the most exotic schizo I’ve seen in a long time, the kind who was fully protected from any kind of probing rays from government satellites, UFOs, that sort of thing.  He wore a huge mushroom bicycle helmet padded out with Styrofoam and aluminum foil, held together with duct tape.  His elbows and knees were padded with the same, and he topped this look off with cargo shorts and a backpack covered with dingly-dangly talismans of no doubt huge significance.  Best of all was the white Styrofoam dental dam to protect him from any inhaled pollutants as well, which didn’t allow him to close his mouth.  While he zipped in and out of the aisles like the White Rabbit on a time-sensitive mission, I got out my trusty Blackberry to take a picture, but he froze in place with both arms crossed dramatically in front of his face as if to shield whatever rays I might be beaming at him.

Our fashion editor Tuttle thought that sounded like a fabulous pose and asked why I didn’t take a picture.  I think the Schizo of the Week is already borderline bad taste without traumatizing the poor buggers.  If they don’t pose willingly, there’s no point.  Like a gorgeous sunset, a schizo such as Shiny-Mushroom-Head-Gamma-Ray-Shield Man is just not something whose full glory and persona you can capture in a picture, anyway.

However, today’s SOTW was meek, but obliging, most likely because his paranoia levels are way lower.  Meet Jake.  He didn’t have much to say other than what is on his cart, which he fixed up and made its prettiest for our PFC readers.  Like the Angel Moroni, all he wants to do is spread the love of Jesus, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Schizo of the Week Jake arranges his love cart so it looks purdy.