by Jonathan Turley
May 29, 2023 - We have previously discussed how comedians have been objecting that woke activists are killing comedy. The complaint is that a group of perpetually pissed off, humorless people are remaking the world in their own image. It began with college campuses, which comedians are now saying are dead as venues, since you cannot safely make any joke that insults any group other than white straight males or Christians or conservatives.
Others have objected to hate speech laws limiting comedians, particularly after some comedians have been prosecuted for “malicious communications” or insulting groups or religious figures. Six out of ten students view offensive jokes as hate speech. This week, however, activists appear to have met their match in a legend of comedy who has opposed the cutting of a scene from the movie The Life of Brian. No, activists are not upset with the endless jokes about Italians, Christians, and Jews. It is the scene involving a man who wants to become a woman and have a child. John Cleese is refusing to yield.
In The Life of Brian, the scene involves “Stan”, who announces that he wants to be a woman named Loretta and have babies. Activists objected that it made fun of transgender people and demanded that it be cut from the film.
The scene shows Stan declaring, “I want to be a woman. It’s my right as a man. I want to have babies. It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.” After Cleese’s protest, the character snaps, “Don’t you oppress me!”
Some reported that Cleese had agreed to cut the scene. However, Cleese tweeted out a correction of the “misreporting”.
What is interesting is that Rob Reiner is reportedly working on the reboot. Reiner is known as someone who is a champion of the Left in Hollywood. This may be an inauspicious start for the reboot effort.
Cleese is not alone in raising this alarm. Comedians including Chris Rock blamed “unfunny TV shows” on the fact that “everybody’s scared to make a move.” Ricky Gervais objected that the BBC is now paralyzed in fear of offending anyone. Jennifer Saunders said people now “talk themselves out of stuff now because everything is sensitive.”
The same complaint has been made in the age of woke advertising that funny commercials seem increasingly rare as opposed to corporate virtue signaling.
The director of the classic comedy Airplane! observed that humor is being squeezed out of Hollywood and the movie today would have virtually every joke removed. David Zucker called it the “death of creativity”.
They are now set upon by a legion of humorless people who seek to reduce the world to their own narrow range of acceptable levity or irony. These comedy giants are set upon by an Army of Lilliputians who have contributed little to culture beyond chilling artists and writers into obedient silence or compulsive comedy criteria.
Of course, Cleese could always use the line from Bryan’s mother: “He’s a very naughty boy! Now, piss off!”