Renowned British comedian and Monty Python member, John Cleese, is making headlines once again for his refusal to yield to the demands of the so-called outrage mob. In an upcoming stage production of the iconic film “Life of Brian,” Cleese has decided to retain a controversial scene that some claim to be transphobic. Despite pressure from actors and concerns about modern sensitivities, Cleese remains steadfast in his commitment to artistic integrity and freedom of expression.
At the center of the controversy is a scene in the upcoming stage version of Monty Python’s “Life Of Brian” involving a character named Stan who expresses the desire to become a woman and have babies. The dialogue that unfolds between Stan and other characters addresses the absurdity of his claim, with Cleese’s character, Reg, questioning the physical impossibility of a man giving birth. Critics argue that the scene is transphobic, while supporters maintain that it is a satirical commentary on identity politics.
Unfazed by the mounting pressure to cut the scene, Cleese took to Twitter to set the record straight. He clarified that during a table reading in New York City, the actors, many of them Tony winners, advised him to remove the controversial scene. However, Cleese firmly declared his intention to retain it, stating that he has “no intention of doing so.” He expressed his surprise at the media’s misreporting of his stance, emphasizing that no British outlets bothered to verify the facts.
“A few days ago I spoke to an audience outside London. I told them I was adapting the Life of Brian so that we could do it as a stage show ( NOT a musical ). I said that we’d had a table reading of the latest draft in NYC a year ago and that all the actors – several of them Tony winners – had advised me strongly to cut the Loretta scene. I have, of course, no intention of doing so,” Cleese wrote on Twitter.
Cleese’s decision to keep the scene intact highlights his unwavering commitment to artistic integrity and the principle of freedom of expression. He questions whether the scene’s removal would deter devoted Monty Python fans who have been enjoying it for over four decades. Cleese’s belief in the resilience of his audience and his rejection of the culture of fear propagated by producers are refreshing in a climate where self-censorship often prevails.
Cleese said of the actors in the upcoming production, “These were absolutely top-class Broadway performers and they were adamant that we would not get away with doing the scene in NYC! I asked them, ‘Are Python fans not going to come because we’re doing a scene they’ve been laughing at for 40 years.'”
Cleese also pointed out that the original release of “Life of Brian” faced significant protests, which ultimately rendered additional publicity unnecessary. He indirectly criticizes the current tendency to bow down to pressure, suggesting that modern producers have become overly cautious. Cleese’s bold refusal to conform to the demands of the outrage mob demonstrates his desire to challenge the status quo and rekindle the spirit of satire that made Monty Python a household name.