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In defense of The producers ,1968's humor


28Silent
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When Mr Mankiewicz stated ,when introducing the producers, 1968 ,today on t.c.m .may 5 2013, he said how the humor was insensitive.Guess what Mel Brooks is Jewish! He created the humor.He made the movie.Lets get one thing straight ! This movie did not glorify Hitler or the Nazi.It was shown in a humorous light only for one reason.To put down the Nazis!this was definitely a anti Nazi comedy.As anti Nazi as To be or not to be,original and remake.The fact that the characters wanted to get a tax break illegally by producing bombs of a show,indicated they felt that a musical glorifying the Nazis would offend so many it would be a bomb, right? Wrong! they accidentally made a anti Nazi comedy which became successful and they end up in prison in the end ,after trying to bomb the theater and getting caught extorting money.The ex German soldier character ,Brooks was making fun of neo Nazis.This is the way real neo Nazis act.Any one who get offend at the humor isn't seeing Mel's point.This is a anti Nazi comedy in the tradition of To be or Not to be ,the Hal roach featurette that poked fun of Hitler and Mussolini and Hirohito, the Great dictator.I'm sure in Germany,like the great dictator,this film is viewed by the government as glorifying the Nazi's too and like the great dictator they have it equally banned from t.v and home video market ,in the that country.They don't see the point

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I didn't see Mr. {font:arial, helvetica, sans-serif}Mankiewicz's intro, but if he did mention that the humor was insensitive, I agree he was mistaken, except if you are a Nazi, or an admirer of Hitler. The fact that Mel Brooks is Jewish should not play a role in the success of the film, and our acceptance of his comedy, but perhaps it does. Admittedly, it is uncomfortable watching it at times (especially during the opening number of the show), but ultimately it is so over-the-top and outrageous that it ends up being hilarious.{font}{font:arial, helvetica, sans-serif}{font}

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Well I see where Ben is coming from. Some survivors of the camps have said the movie was insensitive (some also said that about Hogan's Heros).

 

But it would of been better if Ben had said 'some people feel the humor is insensitive and I'm one of them'. A comment like that cannot be 'mistaken' since it is just a reflection of people's feelings.

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm pretty sure that if you wanted to, you could find something to offend someone, in almost every film. For me, THE PRODUCERS is the funniest film ever made; and, I'm not even a fan of Mel Brooks' films. Just that one.

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PC be hanged! Berle, Benny, Burns, Stiller and Meara, Wayne and Shuster or the rest of those wonderful stand-up comedians that we loved growing up would never make it on the air today. They'd be banned as offensive even though they poked fun at-and informed the rest of us about-their own religious, ethnic and family customs in a humorous and often touching way. You came away with "Hey, they're not that different from us". I learned more about tolerance their way than any other. Today's group are so raunchy that your feel dirty just thinking about tuning in to their routines.

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I generally skirt the dangerous, dark, and murky morass of political correctness. And I'm going to do it now. Because there's no reason to bring it into consideration with regard to The Producers. Mel Brooks doesn't do anything inappropriately hurtful, or demeaning. There is nothing wrong with satirizing, abusing, degrading, abasing, insulting Nazism, Hitler, or any other of his band of monsters. And the more they are debased, skewered, and ridiculed the better.

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So are you saying that if someone finds The Producers offensive there is something wrong with them? My original post on this topic stated that Ben should NOT of said that some of the humor was offensive but instead that HE found some of it offensive. Shouldn't we all do that with this topic? (i.e. I don't find the humor offensive but I can understand why some might).

 

 

 

 

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I can't say that I really understand their criticizing the movie because of it.

 

I also find myself in that situation but like fears, often others cannot understand the inner workings that lead people to view what I find funny as distasteful. This topic has come up a lot with a friend my mine that loves Mark Twain and is very upset that certain words are removed from books like Huck Fin. The feeling some parents have that expose to certain words could harm the self esteem of their children may feel irrational to many of us, but it is their fear feeling. If being PC means trying to understand their feelings (even if we can't), then I'm too PC.

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While PC can be hard to define I really think how you define it in the last paragraph is on target.

 

I especially like the part about social groupthink. All I can add is that social groupthink can be very fluid. i.e. what group(s) someone identifies with often changes with circumstance. I try to avoid all group association, even those I cannot escape (e.g. being male). Of course I fail often.

 

PS: Watched the Mel Brooks special on PBS last night. Interesting but it did enforce the one trick pony POV of Brooks; spoofing a genre.

 

Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on May 21, 2013 2:14 PM

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I watched a show on PBS last night on Mel Brooks (American Masters). His explanation of The Producers is that he thought the best way to insult what Hitler did was to laugh at him. His way of dealing with the horror of the situation was to make Hitler look like a silly fool. And of course Brooks himself, is Jewish (never practiced his religion.) The logic that nobody would want to see a play about Springtime for Hitler only becomes flawed when the play becomes a hit. It is a mistake - it is supposed to fail so that the producers can make money by bilking the investors when the show fails and closes. It is a satire. The critics hated the movie - all except Gene Shallit. He loved it because he was the only one to get the premise. Brooks said that his review saved the movie.

 

But the movie didn't make any money - not really. But it was a boost for Brooks. He went on to make many more movies. And, he won an Oscar for the screenplay of The Producers.

 

My thoughts are that the movie also shows that people (be it Germans, the French, Americans,whatever) choose to ignore what they don't want to believe. Many didn't know about the death camps, and yet there were those who heard about it, but didn't want to face it, so they didn't - they just ignored it. The horror of the Nazis and what they did was and still is unparalled in history. But even worse is the hypocracy of those who chose to ignore what was happening. That is part of satire in this movie. By liking the play, the people are ignoring what Hitler is doing.

 

I don't know. I am tired. It is late. Maybe my thinking is flawed. However, I don't think that Brooks ever meant to insult the Jewish people with this movie.

 

 

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Robert Clary, Werner Klemperer and John Banner were all Jewish yet starred on *Hogan's Heroes* which was roundly panned as insensitive to POWs and for making Nazis comic figures. Clary lost his entire family and Klemperer's just got out of Austria in time. They said this was their chance to use their occupations as a form of payback. While there can never be real payback for the atrocities of this time maybe this helped them as *The Producers* possibly did Brooks who even if he wasn't a practicing Jew might still have felt kinship with the victims.

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Just a few points about this whole thing which I think have yet to be made...

 

First, it is a grand old Jewish tradition to make light of or humor about sorrowful situations.This practice has been a comfort and coping mechanism used by Jews for centuries if not millennia, and is most likely the reason a sizable percentage of the great American comedians of the 20th Century have been Jewish.

 

Secondly, it seems it's often forgotten that without Dick Shawn's pitch-perfect comic turn as the Nazi dictator in "Springtime for Hitler", the play WOULD have been a flop, and thus Bialystock and Bloom's scheme would have worked.

 

(...you folks remember Dick Shawn, don't ya?.. he was doin' Robin Williams' shtick in nightclubs when the latter was still in short pants or MAYBE even when Robin was still smarting from his bris!!!)

 

LOL

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Excellent post Dargo :) , Humor is a GRAND old Jewish tradition. I've heard Mel speak about this and that was his intention. Excellent post Wouldbestar :) Brooks not just might have felt kinship, but does. Practicing his religion or not, has nothing to do with the sorrow he feels in his heart.

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That is a very perceptive post finance. I was looking at it from Mel's point of view. I think to comedians, nothing is off limits. Remember Jerry and Schnidler's List? To most Holocaust Survivors it's impossible to find humor in the horrors,even if it's to make fun of the persecutors. I think that's probably what Ben meant.

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I believe you might have nailed downed the point Ben was trying to make.

 

The Jewish community was split on if making humor from this tragedy was fine or not. We see this same split with the African American community and the use of the 'N' word. Almost all comics say it is fine to use and continue to use it but most community leaders have said it isn't and have even started campaigns to try to get comics to stop using it.

 

 

 

 

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Neither Mel nor Jerry exactly got humor out of the Holocaust. In Mel's case, it was the principals responsible for the Holocaust. In Jerry's case, he just used "Schindler's List" as an example of a very serious movie about tragic events, a movie during which you are not supposed to be making out. It could have just as easily been something like "The Grapes of Wrath".

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Where in my 2 posts did I say that Mel or Jerry got humor out of the Holocaust???? Read my posts again! Please take that back! and btw, Jerry could have *Grapes Of Wrath*, but DIDN'T! I complimented you on your post, and you've decided to be contrary.

 

Thank You James, for understanding my posts and agreeing.

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I disagree that the movie Jerry was watching just needed to be a serious movie like The Grapes of Wrath. For the joke set up to work it had to be a movie about an event that was special (meaningful) to Jews since the ones that were offended that Jerry was making out during the movie were his relatives. i.e. the movie had to be about a subject that was considered sacred to those that were upset. Also there had to be a connection between the subject of the movie and Jerry. (so in that context Jerry shouldn't make out while The King of Comedy is showing because that would offend Kathy Griffin!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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