It now seems a marvel that a movie like Monty Python’s Life of Brian could ever have been actually made. Sure, it’s set up to be a spoof of Bible movies, but it actually spends most of its time making fun of revolutionaries, particularly of the anti-colonial type that one would have thought were untouchable to comedians even then. The Monty Python crew brilliantly poked fun at all the activist-revolutionary traits: the violent factionalism, fetishization of parliamentary forms, preposterously inclusive committee-speak position statements, delusional gender-bending, and moral inconsistency. Nowadays, the “Loretta” scene is probably a hate crime in itself. (“What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can’t have babies?”) “What have the Romans ever done for us?” is very close to “What have the whites ever done for us?”. It’s rather daring to point out how easy it is to answer either question. The crowd chanting in unison “Yes, we’re all individuals” is a perfect image of our freethinking Leftist student bodies. Even the movie’s closing musical number, the nihilistic “Always look on the bright side of life”, is really a joke at the expense of a belief very popular among the elite. The idea that life being meaningless and death meaning extinction should be truths that make us happy was the serious belief of intellectuals then and as it is now. What makes the final scene funny is just how implausible it is that anyone in a really dreadful situation could actually be cheered by such thoughts.
To my knowledge, none of the Monty Python guys suffered any social consequences for this movie. Those were different times, it’s true. But perhaps our enemy is also a bit less fierce than he appears, at least to certain kinds of attacks?
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