Is John Cleese trying to steal Monty Python and it’s legacy for the Right? I just came across this article outlining how he is now saying that programs such as Monty Python would never have come about under contemporary conditions. As the article points out, his recent right-wing pronouncements have attracted the ire of many, including from most of his fellow Pythons. By arguing that political correctness stifles free speech, Cleese is trying to claim that avant guard, barrier-challenging comedy programs such as Python could not have happened in contemporary PC culture. Yet it was precisely the liberal, educated left wing philosophies which brought about Python which now underpin Political Correctness. Python was a rebellion against the very conservatism Cleese now espouses. Python broke barriers, but there is a huge gap between challenging social norms and the type of crass, offensive humour that cleese and those who think like him are arguing is now being censored. In trying to argue that Political Correctness stifles humour, Cleese plays directly into the hands of those who would use comedy as an excuse or disguise for intolerance.
In Monty Python’s Life Of Brian for example, Python exposes the absurdity of religion, yet it did not intentionally cause offence or reinforce stereotypes. Political Correctness is an effort to steer cultural discourse away from outdated stereotypes which people may now be offended by. It is an attempt to prevent people wantonly laughing at and belittling those they perceive as different, simply because they are different. Python sought to make people laugh and question, not offend; yet the brand of humour cleese says is now being censored does just that. In effect he is attempting to hijack monty python to fit his own anachronistic right wing views, but in doing so totally distorts what python was all about.
I love Monty Python and always will, and watching them live in 2014 will always be one of the greatest moments of my life. It was a type of educated, informed humour: absurd, yet underpinned by a huge intelligence. While it challenged barriers it did not set out to offend. Political Correctness would thus have had no issues with it. By arguing that it would, however, Cleese is trying to reposition Python onto the political Right, when in fact it is squarely on the left. After all, it is conservatism which stifles creativity as it seeks to preserve the social and economic hierarchies which allow thee rich few to dominate the poor many; it is liberalism which seeks to tear such structures down. As he becomes ever more ingrained in Outism and right wing politics, Cleese grows ever more desperate to claim Python for himself, when in truth Python was the antithesis of what Cleese now advocates. After all, while Cleese made a great contribution, he was just one of six great comedians to make up Python, all with unique, highly intelligent personalities. It disgusts me to see this once great, intelligent, funny actor try to hijack possibly the greatest comedy program of all time for himself.