Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Making Fun Of Themselves

Mormons love making fun of themselves. If you want to ingratiate yourself to this culture, you must learn their peculiar jargon and habits. This is not so much so that you can function as a bona fide member of their group, but so that you can join them in one of their favorite pastimes: playfully mocking the aforementioned jargon and habits.

"Hey, Cody, Skylar, and Brent," a young Mormon male is likely to be heard joking to his peers during a lull in their Sunday meetings, their plastic schoolroom chairs having the front two legs tipped back so they can lean coolly against the wall, "we sure do like to eat a lot of funeral potatoes, don't we?" To which his pubescent cohorts will then rejoin, "Dude, no kidding. We're like, the kings of funeral potatoes or something. Huh-huh, funeral potatoes."

This basic ritual of Mormon life will play itself out many times in many settings.

A well institutionalized example of this is the fairly recent phenomenon of Mormon Cinema, in which slapstick comedy predominates. Most of these comedies are not very funny, but as they exist to poke gentle fun at the subculture's quirks, they find a steady and welcome audience.

Case in point: The Singles Ward. This movie was only moderately entertaining, but your average Mormon received it like it was Monty Python and The Holy Grail. Why? Because it made constant reference to silly "Mormon-isms." According to this important anthropological relic, Mormons feel wistful about their tendency to, among other things, carry a pen at all times, resent the pretty girl who gets married after only a month in the ward, and watch other Mormon movies with self-ironic devotion.

Oh, yes, and Mormons also love endlessly ironic metafiction. "Boy howdy, Erastus," a wholly representative Mormon will doubtless say to his friend Mahonri at least once a week, "we sure do like us some of that endlessly ironic metafiction."

1 comment:

omygoodnessmandi said...

singles ward 2 was actually really funny. i was pretty surprised.