Mormon Fray
The Archive of Incidental Mormon References in Pop Culture...

Beavis and Butt-head (1994)

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Season 4, Episode 12
"Late Night with Butt-head" 

Mike Judge's seminal creation: Beavis and Butt-head; a show embraced by the very demographic Judge was mocking, the show was inescapable in the 90s, as were irritating impressions of the title characters (both voiced by Judge). Judge would go on to create the TV series King of the Hill, and the movies Idiocracy, and Extract, as well as his masterpiece (so-far) Office Space.

Context: Beavis and Butt-head, the two adolescent slackers, are enjoying their favourite activity, criticizing music videos, when Donny Osmond's Sacred Emotion comes on. Beavis and Butt-head are apparently aware of the Osmonds' religious affiliation... sort-of.

Beavis and Butt-head

Exegesis: This clip is so juvenile (as was intended), it would be even more reductive than usual to pursue anything more than a cursory exegesis.

It's that old canard again: "Mormon" kind of sounds like "Moron", if you're an idiot. This joke is more or less identical to the one used in the "Married With Children" clip. Butt-head does correct his friend's malapropism (although he has just suggested that Donny's dad, "Lee Harvey Osmond", killed JFK), and points out that Beavis means "Mormon". How to describe Mormons to someone as simple as Beavis? Butt-head: "Those are those dudes who come up to your house on bicycles." Unphased, Beavis asks if the music he's hearing is the Moron Tabernacle Choir...

So we've got "Moron" for "Mormon", missionaries on bikes, the Tabernacle Choir... the only easy Mormon reference not mined for laughs in this clip is polygyny, and I'm not sure how that oversight was made.

With all that said, Donny Osmond (and his family) were real ambassadors for this Church in the 70s. There wasn't anyone as famous at that time who was a faithful member of the Church, let alone someone who was idolized by a lot of young people. (Not all young people, obviously.) To this day, their Mormonism tends to be mentioned whenever any of them are interviewed. In fact it may be the one salient detail most people know about them, along with the fact that Donny has a sister named Marie.
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Married... With Children (1994)

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Season 8, Episode 15
"Sofa So Good"

This show ran for eleven seasons – it was the first prime-time sitcom to air on the newly launched Fox network n 1987, and remains the network's longest-running live-action sitcom.

Context: Al Bundy (Ed O'Neill) and his wife Peggy (Katey Sagal) are leaving town for the weekend to attend Peg's family reunion. Their son Bud (David Faustino) and daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate) have each faked illness to avoid joining their parents on the trip. Once their parents leave, Kelly invents an enormously implausible story about volunteering to film a public service announcement to combat child illiteracy in their living room, and therefore needs Bud out of the house. Bud points out that Kelly herself is illiterate, and therefore a poor spokesperson, but ultimately buys her story. Once he leaves, Kelly calls to her boyfriend (Gunther) who has been hiding outside. He enters and declares that he was so bored waiting outside, he decided to "take some pictures," (which turn out to be framed paintings he's stolen from neighbouring houses.) He gives them to Kelly, and after we are suddenly privy to the sarcastic thoughts of the family dog, Kelly explains that Bud bought her story about the public service announcement...

Married... With Children

Exegesis: Like the clip from Beavis and Butthead, here is a character that makes the implausible homophonic leap from Mormon to Moron. There are worse associations that could be made, and the reference isn't malicious - at least not towards Mormons. Usually the substitution of "moron" for "Mormon" is a commentary on the speaker, not the religion. This is the case here, where everything Gunther says or does is meant to reinforce the notion that he is astonishingly dim-witted.

As I said about the more plausibly homophonic Family Ties clip, "Mormon" to "moron" isn't the most flattering association, but considering there is actually someone named "Moron" in the Book of Mormon, I suppose we can't complain.
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