Mel Brooks popped up on Radio 4’s Today programme to talk comedy, and his comments have hit the usual outrage. Essentially his point is this;
“Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behaviour.”
What that means is that anything is up for grabs in comedy, as it should be and even he draws a line, as it should be.
The director said he could find comedy in almost everything but conceded there were areas even he would not mine for material.
“I personally would never touch gas chambers or the death of children or Jews at the hands of the Nazis,” he told the BBC’s Radio 4’s Today programme.
These should be uncontroversial comments but this is 2017 and saying that anything is up for grabs means people will react in a way to prove Brooks point. Now remember, Brooks has been alive a very long time, and has fought actual real Nazis as well as breaking down barriers with material like this.
Yet in stepped members of the modern mainstream left who decided having a pop at Brooks rather than actually grasping what he said was the thing to do.
Well, that’s a question; when did he do anything worthwhile? I mean it isn’t as if he fought Nazis in WW2, reshaped the world of comedy in the 60’s, made some of the finest comedy films of all time in the shape of The Producers, Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, Young Frankenstein, not to mention producing The Elephant Man and hiring David Lynch, not to mention producing David Cronenberg’s version of The Fly. His C.V. is beyond impressive and in recent years he’s been semi-retired which anyone shouldn’t begrudge him.
But no, rather than deal with the point that everything is up for grabs in comedy the supposed ‘liberal left’ rail against Brooks based not upon what he’s done, but based on their own identity politics. And Brooks has a point. Can you imagine a major Hollywood studio letting this into a major film in 2017?
Me neither, but deconstruct that scene and it’s clearly attacking racism by using language which isn’t ‘politically correct’ which is a phrase that’s moved on from the Stewart Lee definition.
Essentially it is depressing to see the left adopt the same knee-jerk rhetoric and intolerance as the right. There’s a lot of comedy out there which is nice, safe and bland but for those of us who don’t want to endure Michael McIntyre we want to have the ability to offend and attack those people, attitudes and institutions that comedy should. What’s hypocritical about many of those attacking Brooks is they’re ageist which shows how pathetic some of them are.
Comedy should point out truths and when it can, punch up at everyone and although intent is also key (which is why Bernard Manning was a bigot as he never dared punch up) Nobody should get a pass because it might sound offensive to someone, regardless of their politics. Otherwise we’re crossing into a censorious society where the powerful can potentially escape because it doesn’t fit one’s politics to attack them.