When Stereotypes Collide

December 22, 2009 | 22 comments
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There’s so much here I don’t even know where to begin: Polygamy doesn’t make it past NBC’s Standards and Practices? People with curly hair don’t look Mormon (sniff, sniff)? MoTab on Conan? Relative marginalization? Smithmas? Ms. Pac-Man?

And I think this is pretty awesome:

Oh Joseph Smith, Oh Joseph Smith
The prophet of the Mormons
On Dec. 23 we toast your birth
(Though not with coke or tea or bourbon)

{HT to Eric for the link.}

22 Responses to When Stereotypes Collide

  1. Hunter on December 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    “For their song, Kutner and fellow “Tonight Show” writer Todd Levin went with the simple premise of the average American’s lack of knowledge about Mormonism.”

    Brilliant. To me, the Tonight Show bit really hit the nail on the head by focusing on this theme of the public’s lack of knowledge of the Church. Instead of taking the easy way out and filling the void by taking cheap shots, the writers kind of turned it around and poked fun at the general public’s ignorance. In that way, I felt oddly validated by the routine.

    Anyhow, great article. Thanks for highlighting it.

  2. Ben on December 22, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    That’s a good point, Hunter. Helen Whitney has commented several times on the surprising amount of ignorance about Mormonism regardless of geography, or socio-economic background.

    On Utah Now, “It’s amazing, the depth and breadth of ignorance about the Mormons.” (Around 4:55, goes on for a while) From her Sunstone article about making her documentary- “It is hard to overestimate the amount of ignorance surroundings Mormons.”

  3. Kevin Barney on December 22, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I just read it from Eric’s link. Fascinating background.

  4. dangermom on December 22, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I thought that was hysterical!

    I have curly hair too, maybe I’d better go straighten it. Clearly these folks never visited Utah in the 80′s!

  5. Marc Bohn on December 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Fascinating background. Thanks Julie.

  6. Rob Perkins on December 22, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I lolled. Thanks, Julie!

  7. mark on December 22, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    @Ben

    “It is hard to overestimate the amount of ignorance surrounding Mormons.”

    Even amongst Mormons.

  8. Raymond Takashi Swenson on December 22, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    I have not been a ble to pull up the Conan O’Brien spoof after a number of tires over several days. My guess is that it is being accessed at high rates and I can’t get through.

    Conan’s on-screen persona is largely based on ignorance, in contrast to Stephen Colbert’s on-screen persona that feigns knowledge but is blatantly ignorant. Then there is the Jon Stewart persona, that simply asserts he is smarter than all the politicians and straight newspeople he makes fun of. For example: Even if Conan spoke Chinese, he would never admit it on screen. Colbert would purport to know Chinese, but make an obvious total hash of it. Stewart would act like he is secretly fluent in an off hand way, saying something in Chinese to a guest without otherwise drawing attention to what he did, so we can be impressed by his smarts and his modesty at the same time.

    I would much rather have the Conan version of a song for Mormons by a Jew than a version from Jon Stewart (an actual Jew).

  9. JamesM on December 22, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    That’s funny…I actually thought when I was watching it how distinctly upper-middle-agey Mormon those guy’s hairstyles looked!

  10. Ardis Parshall on December 22, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    I think it’s hilarious, although I admit to feeling a sting at being so little known that this is funny.

    I’d like to hear from a few non-Mormons who would have no reason to feel the sting, to know how funny it seemed to them. They’d have to know *enough,* I think, to know about the formality of the MoTab and that Mormons aren’t Amish — I mean, if someone assumes that everything in the song was accurate, it wouldn’t be funny, right?

  11. Blain on December 22, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    MoTap

  12. Ardis Parshall on December 22, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Yeah — MoTap. But you’d have to know something of the style of MoTab, I think, for MoTap to be as funny as it was. It wouldn’t be especially funny, just a bit of an exaggeration, for MoTap to be a spoof of a gospel choir.

  13. MikeInWeHo on December 22, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    I hang with non-Mormons and think the level of ignorance really is that high.

    Keep in mind that Latter-day Saints tend to be clustered in certain regions. You’re also part of a rather insular subculture. I suspect those are the main reasons why the ignorance is so striking. Most people just don’t know any of you.

    The average person in Ohio or wherever probably doesn’t know a single member, and certainly not well. People mix you up with Amish (I have no idea why — perceived strict lifestyle?), the Jehovah’s Witnesses (door knocking), and who knows who else. When pressed, the average person might come up with “Utah” and “polygamy.” Beyond that: clueless.

    The Conan segment was funny, but think of the PR possibilities here. Why couldn’t some talented LDS put together an equally witty and playful response, something with just a little bite? A little self-deprecating humor goes a long way in breaking down barriers.

  14. Jim Donaldson on December 22, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    “The Conan segment was funny, but think of the PR possibilities here.”

    Apparently somebody has. One of the last lines of Eric’s link was “And the real choir, he (a Tonight show writer) said, already has been in touch with the show to collaborate on a future segment.” Ought to at least boost ratings out West.

  15. Lupita on December 23, 2009 at 1:38 am

    I also thought it was hilarious. Tappernacle Choir? Funny stuff.

  16. Ugly Mahana on December 23, 2009 at 2:27 am

    This performance slice tackled me because it was so chic to the forum.

  17. ESO on December 23, 2009 at 9:44 am

    I really want a Tappernaccle choir. Can Mormons only ballroom? Let’s tap!

  18. Chris Henrichsen on December 23, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Raymond said:

    “Colbert would purport to know Chinese, but make an obvious total hash of it. Stewart would act like he is secretly fluent in an off hand way, saying something in Chinese to a guest without otherwise drawing attention to what he did, so we can be impressed by his smarts and his modesty at the same time.”

    Have you ever had Comedy Central? I have watched every edisode of both shows for the last 4 year and have know idea what you are talking about.

  19. Chris Henrichsen on December 23, 2009 at 11:04 am

    The Conan song was a great response the the Hatch song.

  20. SLO Sapo on December 23, 2009 at 11:50 am

    “Have you ever had Comedy Central? I have watched every edisode of both shows for the last 4 year and have know idea what you are talking about.”

    Yeah, I was scratching my head, too. Nice to know at least one other person was perplexed by Raymond’s analysis.

  21. Rob on December 23, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I think we’d be better off with a cloggernacle choir.

  22. Bookslinger on December 27, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Video can be seen here:
    http://blogs.jta.org/telegraph/article/2009/12/15/1009738/right-back-at-you-senator-hatch

    The video wasn’t as bad as the linked article led me to expect.

    I thought it was kind of cute.