John Cleese is Not a Fan of ‘The Simpsons’ Recasting So Many Roles

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A few years ago, the BBC’s Controller of Comedy made a statement that Monty Python’s Flying Circus, one of the most beloved sketch comedy series of all time, would not be made today because they were “six Oxbridge white blokes,” and that they would instead “assemble” a more diverse troupe. Python’s animator Terry Gilliam was incensed, calling the statement “bullshit” and saying “[Allen’s] statement made me so angry, all of us so angry. Comedy is not assembled, it’s not like putting together a boy band where you put together one of this, one of that everyone is represented.” And the inimitable John Cleese added that Python was a diverse group, joking “We had three grammar-school boys, one a poof, and Gilliam, though not actually black, was a Yank. And NO slave-owners.”

Cleese has similar feelings on the way The Simpsons has been recasting roles because of the agreeably silly idea that voice actors must now only play animated characters of their same race and apparently sexuality.

It started because Hank Azaria recently apologized for playing Apu, saying he now felt his portrayal was racist. I’m not sure I agree, Apu was almost always portrayed positively, his main character flaws being his work ethic putting a strain on his relationship with his wife and being unfaithful to his wife. Apu was mainly shown as being smarter and more human than most other people in Springfield.

John Cleese definitely doesn’t agree, tweeting “Not wishing to be left behind by Hank Azaria, I would like to apologize on behalf on Monty Python for all the many sketches we did making fun of white English people. We’re sorry for any distress we may have caused”

Cleese was pretty dismissive of someone saying they found some of Python’s humor offensive by today’s standards.

Cleese actually makes a good point here. If you see something on TV that offends you, you can just get over it, who cares?

And Cleese had a thought about “wokeism” or “cancel culture” or “political correctness” or whatever you want to call it.

“Humorless, censorious, literal-minded, posturing idiocy” is a pretty good assessment. Do we really think The Simpsons, which hasn’t been good in over 15 years, is going to suddenly be good by following a bunch of rules about what they can and can’t do and what types of jokes they can make?

You might not remember this if you’re younger, but The Simpsons was subversive when it was new. The President of the United States complained about it. My uncle told my mother and father they were bad parents because they let me watch The Simpsons.

Those early episodes may not seem subversive, but just depicting a “dysfunctional” family that didn’t exist in the picture-perfect reality of The Brady Bunch where everyone learned a lesson about being a Good Samaritan was subversive. The Simpsons lost its edge and went mainstream, and they’re not going to get edgier by going out of their way to make sure they don’t offend anyone.

And Monty Python made Life of Brian, they definitely know it’s okay to offend people with humor, especially powerful, humorless people.

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