American Thinker: One of the greatest comic minds of the twentieth century, Mel Brooks, said late last year that “stupid political correctness” would be “the death of comedy.”
“It’s not good for comedy,” Brooks said in September 2017. “Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behavior.”
It’s safe to say Brooks speaks from a podium of unparalleled wisdom on this matter. His movie Blazing Saddles remains one of the least politically correct movies Hollywood has ever made. It’s also probably the funniest.
Brooks has said that that “political correctness would almost certainly have prevented Blazing Saddles … from being made today.”
Imagine he’s right, as I believe he is. Imagine that Mel Brooks, or Richard Pryor (few know he helped write the screenplay), had first considered whether a joke would be politically correct before first considering the more important question for a comedy: whether or not a joke will land with an audience. What you’d be left with is a generally unfunny piece of propaganda defending the ideas of the status quo, hardly “the little elves whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behavior.”
As political correctness is driven by prevailing political actors, it and the truth rarely go hand in hand.
Take this article, for example, written by the New York Times in 1992, discussing demographic trends:
Just a decade ago, gas station ownership usually mirrored the ethnic makeup of the surrounding neighborhood. But now, about 40 percent of the city’s stations are run or owned by South Asians[.] …
The forces that draw immigrant groups to certain occupations – such as Indians to gas stations … – are complex and varied.
“Indians” owning and operating “gas stations” in America at a high rate was a simple observation of truth back then. It’s remained the truth over the years, such that over half of America’s convenience stores were owned by members of the Asian-American Convenience Store Association as of 2013. (A glimpse at the web page shows that we’re not talking about East Asian representation, by the way.)
All of that is truth. And what’s more, it’s Americans’ reality.
Enter The Simpsons, riffing on that reality, which introduced the character of Kwik-E-Mart proprietor Apu Nahassapeemapetilon three years before the New York Times observed that reality more formally in 1992.
America’s longest running television show came under fire last year when Hari Kondabolu, “a comedian of South Asian descent,” made a documentary titled The Problem with Apu. The documentary asserts that Apu perpetuates a negative and racist stereotype, and as such, his portrayal in the show is offensive and should be addressed. more here