Boy, Is The Pro-Trans Mania Leading Us In Strange Places Or What? Now It Has Conservatives Accusing “The Life Of Brian” Of Not Being Bold Enough….

Well, I sure didn’t see THIS coming.

When the Monty Python satire “The Life of Brian” was released in 1979, conservative groups, calling it blasphemous, called for protests and boycotts in the U.S. and Great Britain. Now, as two of the living and not-completely-senile members of the comedy troupe, Eric Idle and John Cleese, prepare to launch a stage version of the movie, conservatives are complaining that they aren’t willing to make the adaptation edgy enough.

In one scene that has taken on more significance lately than it seemed to have 40 years ago, a discussion between “People’s Front of Judea” members Stan (played by Idle, on the left above) and Reg (Cleese) involves Stan saying that he wants to be known as Loretta and to have babies. ‘It’s every man’s right to have babies if you want them,” Stan insists. When Reg points out that, as a man, he can’t have babies, Stan protests, “Don’t you oppress me.”

To hear conservatives describe the scene now, one would think it was the funniest scene in the film. It wasn’t even the funniest scene involving the People’s Front of Judea. But I digress: apparently after trial readings of the script for the stage version, Idle and Cleese decided that they should cut the bit.

Cleese revealed during his one-man show last week that American actors at a read-through for the new show in New York last year advised the authors to cut the scene. “So here you have something there’s never been a complaint about in 40 years, that I’ve heard of, and now all of a sudden we can’t do it because it’ll offend people. What is one supposed to make of that? But I think there were a lot of things that were actually, in some strange way, predictive of what was actually going to happen later.”

And so the gang at Hot Air, the web’s conservative media center, are livid. “It is impossible to overemphasize how tyrannical cultural Marxism, of which alphabet ideology is only one part, is,” David Strom fumes. “There is literally no part of human life that it will not destroy if it challenges the new catechism. This ideology is a cult, not an intellectual or social philosophy, and like all cultists it hates everything that challenges the alternate reality that it demands all accept.” His post begins with another now-cliched adaptation of “First They Came” by Pastor Martin Niemoller: the headline reads, “First they came for Roald Dahl, then they came for Monty Python.”

Get a grip…

  • In the case of the Dahl novels (as well as James Bond and P.G. Wodehouse), pre-existing classic works were censored against the author’s intentions. Nobody is censoring “The Life of Brian;” the movie remains intact and unchanged. The film’s creators have decided to eliminate a portion of the film in the stage adaptation process. There is no “they.”
  • What will strike audiences as funny in one era often does not later on. (Try listening to some old “classic” radio shows…) That is why comedy doesn’t age well, unless it is purely physical. When they tried to revive the stage hit “A Thousand Clowns” on Broadway, it flopped badly, in part because the story of an eccentric, self-centered and neurotic father’s relationship with his young son no longer seemed charming and quirky as it did to Sixties audiences. Today, the show’s protagonist just comes across as a bad parent. That’s not “cultural Marxism.” Attitudes evolve. and cultural hot spots move around, often quickly and to unexpected places.
  • Nobody beefed when Mel Brooks quietly excised all of his anti-gay and drag queen jokes from “The Producers” when he adapted the 1963 film into a Broadway musical decades later. Brooks is a pro’s pro, and knows that comedy has to be a ruthless business: if a gag no longer works, then it has to go. Limp-wrist bits turn up in both “The Producers” and “Blazing Saddles.” They are cringy today (I found them cringy to begin with). If a comedy suddenly seems to be making a point to be political rather than funny, it risks yanking the audience out of its comfort zone, where they feel laughter is safe.
  • When the content that has to be excised is at the heart of a satirical work, then the adaptation itself is doomed. But “The Producers” wasn’t about gays, and didn’t need the moldy anti-gay gags, once a Borscht Belt staple. Similarly, “The Life of Brian” isn’t about transsexuals. If Cleese and Idle felt they had to eliminate the Bible satire to avoid offending audiences, that would be cowardly. Cutting “Loretta’s” five minute scene is just common sense: the controversy over it would risk distorting the entire production.

29 thoughts on “Boy, Is The Pro-Trans Mania Leading Us In Strange Places Or What? Now It Has Conservatives Accusing “The Life Of Brian” Of Not Being Bold Enough….

  1. I disagree.

    The Loretta scene showed the sheer absurdity of an extremists mentality.

    The point of it was to satirize extremism (and how silly it is).

    By contrast, in Blazing Saddles, when the Sheriff says, “Where are all the white women at?” He was parodying a common stereotype.

    They are two jokes that are coming at things from opposite directions.

    The thing is: many people look at the Loretta scene as extremist and the fact that life is now imitating art makes it even more relevant , just in a different way.

    On a personal note, I do not necessarily associate my personality with stereotypical masculinity. Upon reflection. I have come to realize that I can be thoughtless, inarticulate and obtuse when the circumstances call for it.

    But, identifying a lot of my personal traits with my mother, I would often proclaim that I was Man enough to acknowledge my own Femininity. Of course, the joke was in the contrast of those two qualities.

    But, it was also true (to some degree).

    Now, the joke no longer lands in the right place.

    I make the joke now and people may think I am identifying as a woman.


    And, I am Man enough to say so.


    • Again, the joke still means what it did originally, but it was a minor, tangential bit in the structure of the film. Today it wouldn’t be. Because of the trans obsession (on both left and right) it would pull focus from the essence of the satire.

      As you know, the race jokes in Blazing Saddles ARE the point of the movie. Offensive of not, they are indispensable. (And it’s no coincidence that Brooks adapted his other two biggest successes for the stage, but not that one. (Yes, there is also the horses problem.)

      • I am going to move the goalposts a little bit.

        Python movies probably can’t be compared to most other movies. They are really just a stream of independent sketches, any of which could probably be delated as tangential.

        Look at Holy Grail: the Knights who say Ni; the taunting Frenchman; Bring out your dead; the Constitutional Peasant; the Killer rabbit; Tim the Enchanter; the Black Knight. Any one of those could be removed as tangential without losing the theme of the film.

        The same could be said of Life of Brian (though I have seen it fewer times). The stoning scene; blessed are the cheesemakers; the People’s front of Judea, etc.


    • If they didn’t think the scene would undermine the comedy, they wouldn’t cut it. As a director, I’d cut it. It isn’t important enough to the whole to risk it pulling focus.

  2. “If Cleese and Idle felt they had to eliminate the Bible satire to avoid offending audiences, that would be cowardly.”

    If? Of course they did. The Pythons are hilarious, but they are and always have been pious, standard issue lefties.

      • I follow Cleese on Twitter. While he mocks the left occasionally, he is a true believer and is politically probably in the same area as John Lennon and other sixties’ celebs.

        • I agree. I’ve seen tapes of them in their prime, during the early ’70s being proud, smug, self-satisfied, anti-Vietnam war useful idiots. Particularly Cleese.

          • It’s entirely irrelevant what their personal politics were or are, though. Unlike today’s comics, none of their satire was overtly political beyond Mad Magazine levels—every side was equally mocked, and silliness and absurdity took priority over any substantive message.

            • Uhhmmmm… have you looked at the last 5 years? How many times he’s mocked Trump or Johnson while completely ignoring politicians from the other side of the aisle? It’s SNL level of bias by ignoring easy targets from his preferred ideology. I would not care if his politics were kept out of his art, but they aren’t. Maybe they were in the past (I’m almost certain he was not biased until the 2000s) but they are embedded into it now.

              • Monty Python hasn’t existed as an ongoing comic entity for decades. Graham Chapman’s long dead. Terry Jones slipped into dementia. Terry Gilliam directs movies. Michael Pain has been doing his own thing. Calling Cleese and Eric Idol Python members in the present is like pretending Paul McCartney is still a Beatle because he still sings “Hey Jude.”

            • I’m just saying Cleese and the boys were standard issue lefties, so I’m not surprised he’d drop the Loretta sketch. But now he’s saying he hasn’t, so this is all a non-event?

              • If Cleese is in fact leaving the Loretta sketch in, good for him. It shows how ridiculous the left has become in the last forty or so years. Satire becoming reality is never a good development. I wrote a short story in 1972 satirizing a lefty undergrad who was spouting nonsense. Turns out he was blathering about what is now known as “intersectionality.” Sadly, I think the character is now an emeritus professor who made his career out of intersectionality.

              • The comedy/stage show ethics issue is the same whatever happens. Nostalgia or controversy? Innocent laughs and silliness or cultural land mines? Integrity of foolhardiness? I liked the scene, but then it was just silly, today it’s negative commentary.

                • And isn’t good satire supposed to be enlightening? Is G&S just silly, content free, entertainment? In the movie they were satirizing the rabidity of revolutionary zeal. Now, when the sketch is, ironically, even more on point, it’s supposed to be dropped because it’s negative commentary? It was negative commentary at the time the film came out. The movie was about mass hysteria. Pretty germane during the Great Stupid, non?

  3. I completely agree that the scene should be removed.

    If they left it in, in today’s social justice, woke, politically charged, tribally divided world it would most certainly undermine the comedy and likely make the production a pariah. Know your audiences. I’m sure that there will be those that claim that removing the scene is violently transphobic, you know like not being an activist for anti-racism makes someone a violent racist. Remember the public proclamation in the town square that “Silence is Violence”. This is likely a no win for the production in the town square, but at least removing it makes the production less of a pariah for the majority, sort of the path of least resistance.

    Cleese said, “So here you have something there’s never been a complaint about in 40 years, that I’ve heard of, and now all of a sudden we can’t do it because it’ll offend people. What is one supposed to make of that? But I think there were a lot of things that were actually, in some strange way, predictive of what was actually going to happen later.”

    That immediately brought back recent memories of how some of the things that once were considered absurd satire from the Babylon Bee have apparently come true, here is their list.

  4. Could it be a joke becomes unfunny when (1) an underlying critical component of the joke relies on a disdainful contempt(even defiant withholding of empathy) to denigrate some category of people and (2) that category of people finds its 15min of spotlight in someone else’s political power grab?

    So much for Skynet, A.I.(Alphabet Ideology) is here to conquer comedy. Loretta is the new Sarah Connor.

    • Gawd, that’s funny. Classic Monty Python stuff. Mostly making fun of the BBC and the English censorship regime. Something peculiar to England. Honestly, it’s funny but it’s peculiarly British and the real humor doesn’t really travel all that well.

  5. Interestingly, straight from the horse’s mouth:

  6. The most telling part of the controversy is that the “objectionable” part of the bit is not “Loretta’s” declaration, but, rather, that anyone would question it.

  7. Hy, at least it’s still okay to satirize us Christians, who can be reliably counted on to turn the other cheek to insult. At least, most of us. Most of the time. To a point.
    Seriously, I always thought the film was very funny, and satire often fosters some much-needed self-reflection. The “Loretta” sketch is still funny, if now ironically so, to us normals.

  8. The confusion is more due to the fact that yesterday’s leftist is today’s alt-right conservative. What are the ‘evil’ traits of ‘alt-right’ conservatives? Beliefs like equal under the law, freedom of speech, innocent until proven guilty, freedom of religion, the right to protest, belief that absolute truths can exist, belief that there is an objective reality. These are the things that ‘evil’ extreme-right conservatives believe now. This begs the question ‘Who are the moderates?’

    The ‘conservatives’ complaining that it doesn’t go far enough would probably have been considered leftists by 1970’s standards.

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