If it is a mark of true nerdom to be a big fan of the UK’s Monty Python comedy team, then I stand so judged by the Spanish Inquisition.
In fact, the funniest movie I’ve seen seen is their Life of Brian. From the Grammar Centurion to the Shoe Followers to the Nativity Scene (“How did you get here?” the Virgin Mandy asks the Three Wise Men. “We were led by a star,” they say. She responds, “Led by a bottle, more like.) the film is brilliant. But two scenes stand out for political relevance.
The first, the “What have the Romans ever done for us” scene is a lesson we’ve taught before. It’s a stinging indictment of anti-colonialism. When the question above is posed by a revolutionary leader, his acolytes respond with a laundry list of Roman achievements like roads, clean water, public safety, etc.
The second has been the subject of current controversy because it brings to clarity the absurdity of transgenderism. Pythoner John Cleese is in the middle of the kerfuffle.
Fox,”The scene in question features a male character from the 1979 British comedy telling his associates that he wants to be woman named ‘Loretta’ and demands the right to bear a child. Flabbergasted, Cleese’s character in the film tells the man that the notion is ridiculous, while another male colleague offers that they all merely advocate for his right to childbearing as a symbolic way of standing up to ‘oppression.’
‘I want to be a woman… It’s my right as a man,’ the character claims in a scene obviously played for laughs. He adds, ‘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!’ ” Cleese’s character Reg then responds, “Where’s the baby going to gestate? In a box?”
Cleese is now transforming the film into a play and American liberal theater types object to the scene above as transphobic. Cleese: “At the end, I said to the American actors: ‘What do you think?’ And they said: ‘We love the script, but you can’t do that stuff about Loretta nowadays.'”
He added, “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?” Cleese refuses to change the scene.
He wrote, “A few days ago I spoke to an audience outside London. I told them I was adapting the Life of Brian so that we could do it as a stage show (NOT a musical ). I said that we’d had a table-reading of the latest draft in NYC a year ago and that all the actors – several of them Tony winners – had advised me strongly to cut the Loretta scene. I have, of course, no intention of doing so.”
Excellent. One member of the artistic community is standing up to the upper class twits of the Thought Police, telling them to naff off. That it’s a leading member of my favorite comedy troupe of all time restores my faith, at least temporarily, in comedy, theater, and, of course, in England.