You’ve heard it many times before. Just about anything Mel Brooks did in his heyday would be considered too offensive to our Permanently Offended class. This month, David Zucker, one of the two brothers and a third of the Zucker, Zucker, Abrams trio, added Airplane! to that sad list.
Writing for The New York Post on the 40th anniversary, Zucker laments and gives us an inside view as to why this is so.
…there was talk at Paramount of withholding the rerelease over feared backlash for scenes that today would be deemed “insensitive.”
I’m referring to scenes like the one in which two black characters speak entirely in a jive dialect so unintelligible that it has to be subtitled. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said to me, “You couldn’t do that scene today.”
I like how he puts it.
But in today’s market, if I pitched a studio executive a comedy in which a white lady has to translate the speech of black people; in which an 8-year-old girl says, “I like my coffee black, like my men”; or an airline pilot makes sexual suggestions to a little boy (“Billy, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”), I’d be told, in Studioese, “That’s just fantastically great! We’ll call you.”
He attributes it to “the 9%” who have always been with us. In an earlier era, they’d be organizing a letter writing campaign or standing in front of the grocery store gathering signatures.
Today, cancelation has been weaponized by what I see as two factors: the rise of social media with its ability to work up a mob better than a bunch of church ladies ever could, and, secondly the ascent to power of the woke class. You remember that one critic writing for The San Francisco Chronicle or some alt-weekly rag who would talk about the inherent racism of a Dirty Harry movie? Well, there are now 10,000 of these Karens of
both all genders finding all the problematics.
But back to Airplane! This news makes me sad for a couple of reasons. I was 15 when I saw Kentucky Fried Movie at the dollar theaters. No, I shouldn’t have been allowed in. No, the ticket taker could care less. But that day I became a devoted fan. After KFM and Airplane! came Top Secret! written in the same gag-rich send up of a classic movie genre. Do I even need to mention the Naked Gun movies?
Then the best thing ever happened: David Zucker came out as a conservative. Another non-brain-dead Hollywood type saw how liberals acted on 9/11–hating Bush and America more than the terrorists who murdered 3,000 Americans. Then he did an Airplane! style spoof of liberalism in An American Carol. I had to drive 25 miles to see it since few theaters would carry it. And it wasn’t really a great movie. It had an excellent cast of known conservatives like Kelsey Grammer and Jon Voight but it was a little too mean.
So is edgy humor like Blazing Saddles and the TV series Soap gone forever? I am increasingly optimistic that it won’t be gone too long. Norm MacDonald always danced on the edge of acceptable and in his passing, only the most irrelevant voices wrote their “good riddance” pieces.
Dave Chappelle, no conservative he, forged his humor by brutally telling it like he sees it. We are seeing traditionally liberals pushing back on the new generation of scolds as their ranting is becoming ever more impotent. Damon Wayans, rather than throwing his fellow comedian under the bus, added his voice in support of Chappelle.
There are still barriers to non-PC humor and even mildly right-leaning humor so I asked the Bossman what the solution is. Here’s what he says:
I take this to mean something like, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”
And Michael is doing just that. That Show Tonight is a live subscription comedy show and unapologetically conservative.
Many right-leaning creatives are waiting patiently for conservative publishers and other outlets to rise to the occasion and fill the niche that real people are paying real money for.
What can you do? Support conservative and other free-thinking voices. Go see Michael’s Freedom to Laugh tour. Watch Gutfeld! and subscribe to your favorite conservative podcasts.
That way, we will no longer hear, “That couldn’t get done today.”