~~~ This post is dedicated to my beloved father, who did me the great good service of ensuring Monty Python (et al) was part of my life. ~~~
“Of course they brought forth juniper berries, they’re juniper bushes, what do you expect?” (The Life of Brian)
In the wake of the hideousness of the massacre in Paris, much has been written about the necessity of satire. Former editor of The Onion, Joe Randazzo, has summed it up perfectly:
“Satire must always accompany any free society. It is an absolute necessity. Even in the most repressive medieval kingdoms, they understood the need for the court jester, the one soul allowed to tell the truth through laughter. It is, in many ways, the most powerful form of free speech because it is aimed at those in power, or those whose ideas would spread hate. It is the canary in the coalmine, a cultural thermometer, and it always has to push, push, push the boundaries of society to see how much it’s grown.
This is a loss for all of humanity. The victims, people who believed with passion and intellect that humankind can be better, were struck down in the birthplace of the Enlightenment, the movement from which the modern world emanates.” (Full article here).
When Monty Python’s The Life of Brian premiered in America in August 1979 it immediately caused a brouhaha. The Rabbinical Alliance declared the film “foul, disgusting and blasphemous”. The Lutheran Council described it as “profane parody”. Not to be outdone, the Catholic Film Monitoring Office made it a sin even to see the film. Audiences, however, loved it. And, as The Pythons themselves have always pointed out, they never intended to parody Christ, but rather people with blind, un-examined faith in anything, be it religion, politics, or whatever. Watch the scene which perfectly illustrates this – so funny, so accurate.
Eddie Izzard once said: “If you are religious, that’s OK, but you’ve got to keep analysing it, and keep a sense of humour, because without a sense of humour people start dying.” Indeed.