Another Monty Python Cultural Ethics Check: Is This Satire Now Offensive?

I almost added the above scene from the Monty Python troupe’s masterpiece “The Life of Brian” to the previous post.  Has sensitivity to the demands and travails of the LGBT community rendered this satire offensive? Should it be considered offensive? If satire targeting people who demand that they have a right to do the impossible is offensive, is satire doomed in a woke world?

Following in the tradition of this recent post, with the intent of clarifying the political correctness rules so I know what I am defying, Ethics Alarms presents the following poll based on the video clip above:


30 thoughts on “Another Monty Python Cultural Ethics Check: Is This Satire Now Offensive?

  1. This movie, along with other satires like “Blazing Saddles” and “History of the World-Part I” are films that I am surprised have not been complete purged from popular streaming services, given our current political climate.

  2. Satire may end up one of the stronger weapons against PC. Not finding something funny is not that big a deal, dislike is not necessarily offense. It just may not have tickled the funny bone. Humor is often scattershot, especially for newer comedians or when the crowd and material are too disjoint. The best humor is often offensive, but that’s not reason enough not to mock politicians, silly rules, or having a run on milk and bread in the winter if there is the slightest chance of snow.
    Support your local court jester, give them a rubber chicken!

    • I agree, and I actually thought that this was a positive benefit of Trump’s election. I thought that we once again had a president that comedians could make fun of.

      Of course, it is conceivable that they might have gone just a wee, little bit too far in that………

  3. Because of the one voter that sees this as insensitive mockery we must ban all forms of satire because satire is mockery. Please do so soon to give me standing to sue for an infringement on my free speech rights.

    • I have to wonder if that same one voter finds shows such as “Family Guy” funny. That show insults everyone but I suppose that’s okay since the creator is a Liberal. If you’ve ever seen “A Million Ways to Die in the West” from Seth McFarland, I (personally) think it tried, and failed miserably, to be the next “Blazing Saddles” type of hit. But people found it hilarious. I may have chuckled once or twice but didn’t find it as funny as everyone else seemed too. But then again I’m not a family guy fan either. Give me Mel Brooks, Wes Anderson (odd humor I know but I enjoy it) or British humor any day for what passes as funny these days.
      SNL is the reigning champions of insensitive mockery as recently shown by Pete Davidson. But, if it’s against the right then it’s okay in the views of the same people who yell if they get made fun of.

  4. Damned it satire has always been dangerous, since the days of Socrates, when a pla” the clouds”, satiring him, pushed the community to put him on trail. We all know how poorly that turned out, but satire as comedy is a great political tool, we used it to change our public perception of the Nazis in World War II. And yes it sometimes crosses a line, I have a hard time watching some of the Disney and Warner brothers cartoons from the 30’s due to the rasism. Even our beloved Marvel an DC won’t republish. Some of the earl works. It is one of the sad things that Satire, which is so important to our comedy toolbox. Can be insensitive and downright hurtful. That said sometimes satire is thre only way to make a point. Ok I am a gay Autistic Catholic Former Republican( current administration has done what no other could shake my faith in the party) and I teach and direct comedy! This very question beats me to my core! On the positive satire has helped to make people see things from a different perspective, on the negative it can be very hurtful and miss used. I love target shooting as a sport. I love my guns, but we all know guns can be missused in the wrong hands. I think we need to just live with the occasional misstep with satire! As it is to important to abandon.

  5. Of course, what they’re making fun of is lefty/Laborite policy making. This is peculiarly British stuff. Did you catch the line “And [his not having a womb] isn’t even the Romans’ fault!” Might as well have inserted Trump into that line. Remember what country Karl Marx lived his miserable life in. The problem is, this sort of political philosophizing has become endemic.This is not just fringe non-sense, it’s mainstream. We could hear a conversation like this on MSNBC. Or The View.

    Here’s another:

    All of which reminds me of that gay anthem, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and the line “Birds fly over the rainbow, why, oh why can’t I?” To which I always wanted to respond, “Because you’re not a bird?”

    Of course in the thirty or forty years since Monty Python, the theoretical has replaced the pragmatic. Silly theorizing has come to rule the day.

    • In Dorothy’s defense, she’s a child. “Rainbow” is a wistful child’s view of reality. I have always wondered about adults who get all misty-eyed about it. You live in this world, not Oz. Snap out of it!

        • Oh Jack, Jack, Jack. That wasn’t Dorothy singing those words, it was Authentic Gay Icon Extraordinaire Judy Garland! Wake up. We’re talking about Liza Minnelli’s mother, for God’s sake!

          • Not to mention, she went on to become a heroin addict. Seems like she may have never outgrown that wistful child’s disillusionment with reality.

            • joed, I’m curious. Where did the heroin-addict info come from? As far as I know from people who knew she was heavily addicted all right … to (standard) cigarettes. Shirley was a founder of the San Francisco International Film Festival back in the 60’s and she was notorious for smoking up the ladies room on a regular basis. I heard a great deal of the same from some of her caregivers after she died (of COPD, no surprise!). The Big Thing was that she was a secret smoker from the age of 17, after her swift marriage/divorce and (I would think) mourning the end of her career … a heavy, deep coughing, non-filtered, pre-class-action-suit tobacco fiend. She did everything she could to hide the habit from the public, both to preserve her child-star memory, and to be able to do some worthwhile preaching about women getting tested for cancer. I don’t think people born after 1970 or so have any idea what hell it was to break that habit without any of the resources there are today. Cold turkey or nothing. She could have maintained better on low-dose heroin, hidden it more easily , and it wouldn’t have done so much damage.

    • Because you don’t have an airplane ticket? I just figure that’s just metaphor, like so many songs. Some just give you a headache if you try to figure them out. (And let’s not get suspicious that Dorothy thinks she should be above/over the rainbow not part of it. That isn’t being sympathetic, is it?

      Really, it’s just a wistful ‘anywhere but here’ that most kids go through. Reading too much into some things is a disservice to everyone…

  6. Musings:
    I always wanted to say I was an anarchosyndicalist; it goes so ‘trippingly on the tongue’ and tickles the top of the mouth.

    Can’t stand Judy (liked the books – the first two anyway – hated the movie) or her offspring. It’s a sing-along now. Nothing worse than hearing four or five hundred children and their hundred mommies’ voices doing the first two-note octave: Some (*death groan*) Where (*screeeech*). The body language that goes with it is hilarious though, they lean down and moan the first syllable into their chests, then throw their heads back and scream open-mouthed at the ceiling. Then half of them lose track of the lyrics.

    The Pythons were all children of war and grew up with that in mind. Silly was what was needed when all around them was rubble and rationing (which went on for ten years after the war ended, and the feeling went on for another ten until it ran headlong into the Beatles). I’m not sure the U.S. ever needed silly. Cute and sassy maybe, but not silly, not even during the Great Depression.

    Stan was a forerunner of transgender. Or . . . as some highly subversive and controversial psychiatrists have been saying all along, particularly about children transitioning: a large proportion (they differ on numbers but it’s usually over 50%) of those who “think” they want a sex change are due to their parents or their own homophobia. Fact: It is more acceptable to have a girl want to be a boy, or a man a woman, than it is to admit your child or yourself to be all those nasty words and ugly thoughts and bully-bait. This is what more and more therapists are concerned about to prevent their clients going through life having destroyed a major part of their body for no good reason.

    In other words: a large proportion of transgender people may be gay. It makes so much sense, it’s crazy.

    • I don’t see the opinions of controversial psychiatrists too often, but I’ve been seeing some of this appearing in amateur fanfiction. A fair number of writers do not want to write homosexual relationships between two established characters, but it’s all right if one of the characters has a different gender than canon. THEN they can have a happy relationship.

      Note the personalities of the characters are not really changed in any significant way. After a while, I decided that sex change (usually from birth) was kind of inauthentic, like the characters were not allowed to have a happy story if they weren’t physically opposite sexes. So the transgender stories began to feel like a slam at all the homosexual-themed stories a vast majority of the time.

      If a guy changes gender so to pursue guys/another guy, I have to wonder why go through all the pain and surgery? Love the one your’re with.

      • I’m not familiar with fanfiction, Marie. Interesting that transgender characters have entered into fiction-fodder so quickly. I do remember that the first time gender change came up was in science fiction in the 70s, namely in Moonstar Odyssey, a fine novel by David Gerrold (whom most people remember from one of his Trek scripts, “The Trouble With Tribbles”). If I remember correctly, children could “try out” gender change at will, until puberty. And you’re right, of course, about gay-themed fiction (and madeup fact, for that matter). It’s only in very recent years that the writers “allowed” happiness to same-sex couples, and the gay character not be either expendable or headed for a sad or tragic end. Prime examples of bigotry and homophobia. And bearing much responsibility for delaying or distorting any honest dialog in society at large.

        • It’s only been a growing thing in the subgenres of SF/F I play in for the last couple of years. The first hardcopies I read were Lackey’s Last Herald Mage (tragic end, check) and Darkover not so much. Bujold has Beta, with the choice and a single gender world. It took a bunch of trans stories to realize it felt less like the character being the other gender and a code for soemthing else because the character seemed more androgynous thand being truly either. (another fanfic did a wonderful job with a trans character. I wasn’t convinced they understood what they were and what they would lose and gain. Just because of the other confusions of coming of age, I believe at the moment that major surgery like that should not be until age of minority. It won’t solve angst, and no surgery is a magic wand.

    • Love the description of children trying to sing “Over the Rainbow.” When I was a grade school teacher for a year, I walked past the cafeteria where the music teacher was rehearsing the first and second graders for the Christmas extravaganza. She was waiving her hands in front of the kids arrayed on a riser. There was a horrible sound coming out of all their mouths. I figured I was hearing, for the first time, keening, something I’d never heard but read about in Joyce, and couldn’t figure how it would be appropriate for a Christmas show. Ultimately, I realized the poor kids were trying their darnedest to master the incredibly difficult “Silent Night.”

  7. The Charge of the Very Light Brigade
    The Homophobe’s Dream

    Poofs to the right of you.
    Fruits to the left of you.
    Posing and pouting
    and outing and outing.
    Queering your motives
    the faggots will find you,
    dildoes behind you
    wielded by giants.

    Flaming and fluttering
    buggering, cluttering
    all of your brain
    ’til you start into stuttering.
    Cocking their snooks at you,
    Flipping their frocks at you:
    Twinkies and queens
    in a rainbow’d alliance . . .

    Light in their loafers
    come nancys and nellys
    pansies and marys and
    bears with big bellies,
    All send you defiance!

    by Gay Me

  8. I noticed that there is both a right answer, and a correct answer in the list, and at least one acceptable one. I picked the one that might mean the difference between either a bullet to the back of the head, or a few months in a leftist reeducation camp when all of our contributions to the internet are fed into the algorithm a few years from now.

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