Friday, February 17, 2012

Why My Brodie Award Way Outranks My Young Women's Recognition

To: The wonderful people who read my blog
From: Donna Banta
Subject: Being an ex-Mormon Rocks!

Rewind back 15 or so years to when I was a miserable Mormon:

I spent hours doing my Primary calling, going Visiting Teaching, preparing Homemaking Dinners, sitting through temple sessions, etc. and received no recognition whatsoever.

Fast forward to May, 2011 when I am a happy ex-Mormon:

Mark and I threw a party for the SF Bay Area postmormons, where we barbecued, broke the Word of Wisdom, and belted out drunken karaoke. I wrote about it, and ended up winning a Brodie Award!! One of the many reasons being an ex-Mormon rocks!

Thanks to Chanson and Main Street Plaza for hosting the awards again this year. Also, thanks to those of you who voted.

Here's my winning post, originally published on May 19, 2011. God that was a fun night -- and a really bad movie...

Saturday's Warrior is a Load of Crap

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: A postmormon review of Saturday's Warrior

Recently LDS Church spokesperson, Michael Otterson, penned a scathing review of the Book of Mormon on Broadway. In it he disparaged believing Mormons who saw and enjoyed the show, then went on to lament the bad PR the musical will bring the church, worrying not so much about "when people laugh, but when they take it seriously."

So, in the spirit of fair play, and out of respect for the believing Mormons who have seen and enjoyed The Book of Mormon on Broadway, the San Francisco postmormons decided to have a screening of God's Other Favorite Musical, Saturday's Warrior!!!

Last weekend Mark fired up our grill for yet another great exmormon event. Dodgy weather made it a tough commute for some, especially those in the East Bay, as the Bay Bridge was packed with limos filled with hyperactive prom goers. But once everyone arrived at our house, we opened the wine/beer/etc, and enjoyed our usual super-yummy potluck fare. (Some habits never die.) Afterward we retired downstairs for a viewing of the 2000 film version of the production.

Saturday's Warrior begins in the billowy clouds of heaven where we meet:

Julie and Tod: gooey young lovers who can't wait to gain physical bodies.

The Flinders Siblings
Pam: a sweet spirit who wants to be a dancer when she goes down to earth.
Jimmy: Pam's twin who is destined to "go astray."
Julie: the dewy ingenue, and Tod's main squeeze.
[Four insignificant middle children]
Emily: the adorable youngest child who will probably have to die because Jimmy is so selfish.

The Missionaries
Elders Kestler and Green: a couple of self-righteous, hubris-infused chuckleheads who ring surprisingly true to life.

Once the above are introduced through a few catchy tunes, sappy lyrics and beginning ballet choreography, a bossy temple matron prods the characters to get in line to go down to earth -- lest they miss their appointed time and, instead of going to a righteous Utah Mormon household, they wind up in some terrible place like Uganda or Madagascar. Then an even darker scenario is introduced; that is, the chance they won't go to earth at all, because of a grievous and unmentionable sin.

In my recent review, The Book of Mormon is True!, I wrote, "because the show (The Book of Mormon) begins with the premise that all Mormon boys are expected to go on missions, the audience immediately sympathizes with the two main characters in spite of their foibles." 

Employing a similar logic, because Saturday's Warrior begins with the premise that humans arrive (or don't arrive) in their earthly situations according to the aforementioned scenario, the audience immediately concludes that God is an unfair, racist asshole so intent on controlling His children that He will even stoop to blaming a kid for his little sister's death.

While the first 7 of the 8 Flinders children do land safely on earth, things don't exactly turn out as planned. Jimmy, a good looking high school kid, selfishly chooses to behave like a teenager. Jimmy's twin sister Pam, who wanted to be the dancer, ends up in a wheelchair. (No doubt thanks to some prenatal indiscretion by Jimmy.) Julie, while attractive, turns out to be a fickle ditz with the personality of a postage stamp, and a wardrobe that belongs back at the compound on the show, "Big Love." The four middle children remain insignificant, and Emily remains in heaven wondering if she will ever be born. (Also thanks to Jimmy.)

Down on earth, we arrive at the airport with Julie, her then boyfriend, Elder Kestler, and some other missionaries and BYU coeds who sing an annoying version of "Will I Wait For You?" and perform a self-conscious dance routine that is obviously designed to keep them from wiggling their tushes and exposing their knees.

Meanwhile, Jimmy is tired of singing along to "Daddy's Nose" with the family, prefers hanging out with his friends, and claims to want "plain ordinary freedom to pursue my own goals." This shocking behavior is explained through the "Zero Population" number sung by Jimmy and a bunch of mid-drift baring delinquents who lounge around a dorky looking dune buggy and dream of a day when abortion is legal. (Even though . . . it is legal.)

Thoroughly brainwashed by the Planned Parenthood gang, Jimmy flips out when he discovers his mother is pregnant, and demands she have an abortion. Mom  -- strike that -- Dad refuses, so Jimmy runs away from home. As a result, Mrs. Flinders becomes so distraught that she has a miscarriage, making Jimmy a murderer.

Then Julie finds another guy and dumps poor Elder Kestler via the production's show stopper, "He's Just a Friend/Dear John," a peppy number that alternates between a G-Rated bump and grind featuring Julie and her sisters, and a chorus line of male missionaries who perform an awkward routine that makes them look like dogs relieving themselves along a row of hydrants. (Forget the feminists and gays, the ones the Brethren should really go after are the choreographers.)

Back to Jimmy who arrives somewhere in SoCal for a "Summer of Fair Weather" with the protected sex crowd. We are left to speculate how they support themselves. -- Pushing illegal condoms perhaps? (According to the postmormon Anagrammy, that detail is in the Director's Cut.) Jimmy's holiday ends, however, when the family calls to tell him his beloved twin sister, Pam, has died. -- That's right Jimmy, now you're guilty of double murder.

Up in heaven, we see Pam dancing around with little Emily in her arms. She comforts her unborn sister by telling her that life is just a blip, a meaningless and insignificant moment. (A line that might be more aptly delivered by one of the evil pro-choicers . . . but I digress.)

We then return to Elder Kestler who has just paired up with Elder Green. They come across Tod, a chain-smoking non-member who spends his days moping around the park because he doesn't have a "cause to die for." The elders teach him the gospel, he gleefully gives up smoking, and gets baptized. -- Meaning he can now look forward to feeling dead everyday for the rest of his life.

Julie, who has broken up with her fiance, decides she wants Elder Kestler back. So she slips into a dress that resembles a denim grocery sack and goes to the airport to welcome him home. But, as fate would have it, she instead falls for Tod, whom Kestler has brought back with him. The two lovers reunite by singing the same duet they sang in the pre-life, only this time with an obvious appreciation of each other's physical body. (Not that he can admire any of her charms under that ridiculous dress.)

Finally Jimmy sees the error of his ways, shakes off the safe sex crowd, and returns home so that little Emily can finally be born. 

And all is right in Mormondom.

In the case of Saturday's Warrior, I find myself echoing Otterson. I worry about the guilt-ridden souls who take this shit seriously. Of course, that wasn't an issue for the postmormons. We pretty much laughed through the whole thing. And when we saw that there was a karaoke option on the Main Menu -- OMG! Suffice to say that Steve's tequila fueled aria was our evening's show stopper.

So how does the work of Matt Stone and Trey Parker compare to that of Lex de Azevedo? 

Let's see. The Book of Mormon is a fun romp that never takes itself seriously. It has earned stellar reviews, 14 Tony nominations, is set for a nation-wide tour, and has been the subject of many thoughtful articles and discussions about faith in America.

Saturday's Warrior is a tiresome screed (with catchy tunes) that takes itself too seriously. It has earned no recognition outside of Mormonism, is on tour in LDS ward cultural halls, and is the subject of exmormon karaoke parties. This all leaves me to conclude:

The Book of Mormon is true
Saturday's Warrior is a load of crap
(in the name of cheese and rice amen)


  1. Congratulations, Donna! You deserve it.

    I never did get that Young Women's medallion...

  2. Thanks Ahab and Diana, you guys are the best!

  3. I am so excited for you with the Brodie, you definatly deserve it! You blog is funny and insightful. I admire you!

  4. Thanks Russo. Such a compliment coming from such a talented writer.

  5. Congrats Donna! It's well-deserved and I love working (cough cough) with you on W&D!!!

  6. Congrats! And I'd totally agree: Being an exmo is way more fun than I could have even imagined as a mo...

  7. @jen, thanks! Also I'm glad you are embracing life as an exmo!

  8. Quote: "The second category of critics is former members who have become disenchanted with the Church but who are obsessed with making vicious and vile attacks upon it. Most members and nonmembers alike see these attacks for what they really are. What credibility can possibly be given to a person who mocks beliefs held sacred by another? Anyone who would resort to these attacks unwittingly discloses his or her true character—or lack of the same. As members of the Church, we are appalled by such attacks. Hopefully, however, they make us more sensitive and extra careful not to make light of the sacred beliefs of other denominations.

    In addition to attacking our sacred beliefs, some former members speak evil of the Brethren. Joseph Smith received his share of this criticism from the dissidents of his day. The Lord’s revelation to him is applicable to us today:

    “Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.

    “But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves.” (D&C 121:16–17.)

    It seems that history continues to teach us: You can leave the Church, but you can’t leave it alone."