Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Philomena and The Book of Mormon

Dame Judi Dench is an actress of fascinating ability.  She can play everything from the head of a spy agency to a little old lady.  Her latest movie “Philomena” has her playing the latter role with great sensitivity, depth and flair, and she does it while suffering from the real-life disability of age-related macular degeneration.

The Book of Mormon” (now on national tour) came to Denver this past month.  It is a send-up of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has received numerous honors.  When it opened on Broadway in 2011, it was awarded the Tony for Best Musical.

Both of these shows deserve acclaim for their creativity and entertainment value, but they also should receive notice for their political posturing.  “The Book of Mormon” leaves you with the notion that followers of the LDS faith are sexually na├»ve and cloistered in their understanding of national and international events.

That perspective created a powerful political theme leading up to the 2012 Presidential election.  Even now, one leaves the theater thinking, “Thank God one of those people didn’t become President of the United States!”

“Philomena” is a story about a personal search for reconciliation.  It deserves critical acclaim, but like “Julie and Julia” it takes a perfunctory swipe at Republicans, characterizing supporters of the Reagan presidency as homophobic.

Americans take these theatrical conventions in stride and without comment.

It’s just those with a more humanist view who are left wondering, “Why must these anti-Republican sentiments be so prevalent in American entertainment?”