s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: An open letter to Danny Boyle

Saturday, December 29, 2007

An open letter to Danny Boyle

I had a chance to watch Millions again this Christmas with my family. It's beautiful, inspirational, and almost perfectly PG, if also a little trippy. (But hey, what did I expect from the director of Trainspotting?) My one bone to pick with you is your portrayal of the Mormon missionaries.

For starters, I'm not even sure if they're supposed to be missionaries. If they are, why are there three of them? There are, I grant you, times when an odd number of total elders means that some missionaries have to be in groups of three instead of regular companionships, but it's a pretty rare occurrence, and not one I'd expect the average person on the street to be aware of. (And if you're trying to invoke a stereotypical image of Mormon missionaries, then you've got to have just two, no question.) Also, why are they not wearing name tags? Or doing any actual missionary work, ever? And living in a huge townhouse (albeit without a dishwasher or "cash on the premises"). Plus, their accents are all wrong. Way too midwestern. (I'm not saying that there are no missionaries from the Midwest, just that the likelihood of having an entire missionary ménage à trois from Minnesota is small.)

The other possibility is that they're just Mormon civillians (so to speak). That explains the lack of nametags and the threesome, but we don't live in "communes," we are allowed dishwashers, and we don't generally go around creepily quoting scripture at neightborhood meetings. Also, we're not all 6 foot blue-eyed, blonde Aryan nation poster children. (I guess my brother might fit that description, but he's currently got dreads, so that probably takes away from the overall effect.)

I take no issue with the portrayal of the missionaries (?) as corruptible. After all, the whole point of the movie is that it's a miracle if money doesn't corrupt you, and I'm fine with potrayals of religious people as recognizably human. However, if you've got enough basic facts wrong that even, genuine, born and bred Utah Mormons can't figure out what you're getting at, you've got problems.


At January 02, 2008 11:34 AM, Blogger Confuzzled said...

I was thinking something similar the other day when I read Norah Vincent's Self-Made Man and she makes a comment about thinking that the way she's dressed, people will think she's a tagless Mormon missionary.

I thought, "Ha, fat chance without a companion--looking a little business-y in a suit and tie does NOT make you look Mormon")

I wonder if anyone has ever compiled a list of such references and/or common misconceptions about our religion . . .


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