Mel Brooks, The Producers and the Ethics of Satire about N@zis

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Lindsay Ellis

Lindsay Ellis

You're not Mel Brooks.

Twitter: @thelindsayellis
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1. Kael, Pauline. “Onward and Upward with the Arts: Bonnie and Clyde” The New Yorker. 21 October, 1967. Print.
2. Rau, Petra. Our Nazis: representations of fascism in contemporary literature and film. Edinburgh: Edinburgh U Press, 2013. Print.
3. Gross, Andrew S., and Susanne Rohr. Comedy--Avant-Garde--Scandal: Remembering the Holocaust after the End of History. Vol. 183. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag WINTER, 2010. Print.
4. Online, Spiegel. "SPIEGEL Interview with Mel Brooks: “With Comedy, We Can Rob Hitler of his Posthumous Power?” SPIEGEL ONLINE, 16 Mar. 2006. Web.
5. Insdorf, Annette. Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Print.
6. Gonshak, Henry. Hollywood and the Holocaust. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. Print.
7. Reimer, Robert C. "Does Laughter Make the Crime Disappear?: An Analysis of Cinematic Images of Hitler and the Nazis, 1940-2007." Senses of Cinema 52 (2009). Web.
8. Cole, Robert. "Anglo-American anti-fascist film propaganda in a time of neutrality: The Great Dictator, 1940." Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 21.2 (2001): 137-152. Print.
9. Rau, Petra. Our Nazis: Representations of Fascism in Contemporary Literature and Film. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2013. Print.
10. Variety Staff. "Politician Jason Kander Puts Down ‘Alt-Right’ Leader Richard Spencer Over ‘Cabaret’ Tweet." Variety. Variety Magazine, 21 Mar. 2017. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. Web.
11. Packer, Sharon, Jody W. Pennington, and Aaron Barlow. A History of Evil in Popular Culture: What Hannibal Lecter, Stephen King, and Vampires Reveal about America. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, an Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2014. Print.
12. Doherty, Thomas Patrick. Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II. New York: Columbia UP, 2005. Print.
13. Symonds, Alex. “An Audience for Mel Brookss The Producers: the Avant-garde of the Masses”, Journal of Popular Film and Television 34/1: 24-32. 2006. Print.
14. Gubar, Susan. “Racial Camp in the Producers and Bamboozled.” Film Quarterly 60/2: 26-37. 2006. Print.
15. "Darryl Strawberry/Mel Brooks on Broadway/Stolen Lives." 60 Minutes. CBS. New York, New York, 15 Apr. 2001. Television.

gpwnedable 日 前
You don't think Airplane is funny? Surely you can't be serious!
Katie Hay
Katie Hay 4 日 前
Also we should find Winston Churchill of MANY things..including his own genocidal actions with india.
Katie Hay
Katie Hay 4 日 前
The movie feela.. restrained.. or like ppl who were saying the lines and doing the dances were confused why they weren't supposed to be serious..
SpunkySpade 4 日 前
Tomorrow Belongs to Me being used by white nationalist groups is the funniest thing ever because the song was written by two Jewish men.
Benjamin Raskin
Benjamin Raskin 7 日 前
Look you yupes you're all human beings just try to be decent and let's get on with our day if you say you're white you're ignoring that you're human, your pigment decides nothing except how much sunscreen to use
Warren Rhinerson
Warren Rhinerson 9 日 前
I understand where you are coming from, however, I do think you are missing the point people are trying to make by saying you cant make a Mel Brooks movie today. They are saying that people have gotten overly sensitive and WAY too politically correct to allow these types of films. Most of the greatest comedians like Jeff Dunham or Raphie May often ignore political correctness and focus entirely on the comedy. For context: one of Dunham's most famous characters is a dead terrorist( ironically he is the most popular comedian in the middle east) and before his death, May would ask the whites in the audience to find they nearest black person to let them know it was ok to laugh at controversial jokes he may make. Even in modern culture, people sometimes focus too much on race of gender than what is actually being said. There are two great examples of this in American Politics: the 2012 and 2016 Presidential Elections. In 2012, a lot of people claimed that if you voted for Republican Mitt Romney over Democrat Barack Obama, it couldn't have been because you thought Obama was a terrible President or you agreed with Romney more, it had to be because you were a racist. In 2016, if you voted for Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton, it couldn't be because Clinton was part of two Administrations with none stop scandals, has a history of scandals herself, or you simply agreed more with Trump, it had to be you were either a sexist for not voting for a woman, or you were racist for voting for Trump based on things he didnt say or things taken way out of context. I remember in 2015, I simply corrected a misconception on what then Candidate Trump said (I did not support him, but I wanted to correct it as it was a very unfair statement about something taken out of context). After that five people (three I considered friends at the time) calling for me to be assassinated because i was "defending a racist".
Alfred The Great, King Of Wessex
Alfred The Great, King Of Wessex 10 日 前
“What is your beef with the nazis?” -Jiminy Glick
Ilovehotchocolate 16 日 前
Plz review Jo Jo rabbit
jdprettynails 16 日 前
I think I've watched this video at least twice a year since it was posted. It just gets more relevant each time.
Joy Denebeim
Joy Denebeim 18 日 前
That was one of the best documentaries I've ever seen
Jaxon Garside
Jaxon Garside 19 日 前
He rhymed day with day
aboomination 19 日 前
The perfect woman doesn't exi...
Checkmate 20 日 前
I agree that there should be limitations about satire striving for upholding equality and tolerance rather than racism but at the same time the idea that only people belonging to a minority group can make satire avout said group is dangerous. If only jews can make fun of jews, germans can make fun of Nazis, americans of americans and so on and so forth we risk going down a rabbit hole of self censorship that will turn against us. And that is why, despite me not liking them much, ligh hearted comedy like Rick and Morty and South Park are sorely needed, besides of course a more respectful way of portraying certain sensitive topics. Speaking of which Id really love to hear your opinion on Spike Lee's career
Babbleplay 22 日 前
This specific video has become one of the things my autism has locked on to, and hard. I estimate I have watched it 40-50 times; it is informative, and amusing. I find it comforting.
Ilovehotchocolate 16 日 前
Babbleplay same lmao
Madeleine Wack
Madeleine Wack 28 日 前
I honestly don't know what I'm more impressed with, the depth of this analysis or the fact that you somehow managed to make a Phantom of the Opera reference.
Darman's Bar
Darman's Bar 28 日 前
The point of Life is Beautiful is another, but Amazing video
elnotta 29 日 前
<a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="1030">17:10</a> Thank you Lindsay, I thought I was alone, Life is Beautiful just sucks
Mer cordi
Mer cordi ヶ月 前
Note: why only the Spanish Inquisition there were more in EUROPE...
Erick FM
Erick FM ヶ月 前
sadly you realized that a good satire of nazis is make them gay. People hates gays, and gay things that would never make Hitler simpathethic to white supremacist, they are fond to male supremacy, male wounded ego, male insecurity
Epic Remarc
Epic Remarc ヶ月 前
<a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="88">1:28</a> is that mr Shue?
It is!
Mckenzie .Latham
Mckenzie .Latham ヶ月 前
It's also a fact that the nazis were heavily anti having a literal effeminate queen play him in the producers, it mocked the anti homosexuality and masculinity the nazis wore about themselves.
Churchill Osimbo
Churchill Osimbo ヶ月 前
So, I'm just gonna assume you liked JoJo Rabbit?
d81390 ヶ月 前
Hey what's the puppet show thing that Lindsay shows at <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="2260">37:40</a>?
RomanceThief ヶ月 前
we're all gunna fucking die
Tom Satchel
Tom Satchel ヶ月 前
Am always in awe - awesome vid.
Diego B
Diego B ヶ月 前
This is brilliant! Super in agreement on practically everything. Including South Park / Family Guy (which tries to substitute very serious, holy, and conscientious anti-fascist irreverence with categorically flippant nihilism). Would love to hear your take on starship troopers and jojo rabbit sometime (do it, pleeease!) My question for you would be (genuine curiosity, cause I have no idea what the answer is): do you think it's more a problem of the form of representation, or more a question of audiences being able (or no) to read satire properly? I think you're making a really convincing argument about the possibility of creating a satire immune to misreadings, but I'm also interested in the potential for films that can turn people off from it, even as they're consuming it in their day-to-day lives (my personal take on Starship Troopers, for instance, is that it's generally effective as both satire and pedagogical text about/against fascism and militarism, but by no means immune to the kind of destructive misreading you call out- see the really positive RLM review, which I generally like but have a couple of issues with, namely that it does seem to take what you're saying into account, by generally and irreverently calling people who misread the film idots, but maybe not taking those idiots as seriously as they should be). In your mind, is the most important question a) what could Paul Verhoeven (or like-minded author) have done differently? b) Should Verhoeven have even made it at all? or c) what would it take to make sure people don't misread something like this? Are they all important? Is (c) even possible? Anyway, many questions still. But really enjoyed!
MathisMagic ヶ月 前
I desperately would love even a mini, off the cuff vid following up on this video discussing your opinions on jojo rabbit.
Joseph Davidson
Joseph Davidson ヶ月 前
Great video. This is why Jojo Rabbit was so good.
Joseph Pierce
Joseph Pierce ヶ月 前
It’s so dumb she had to change the title.
David Brown
David Brown ヶ月 前
We had to learn to "love the bomb" in the 60's, right up to the 1980's, I've just discovered your channel, fantastic, hi from the UK. Are there some subjects beyond satire?
Mitch Obrien
Mitch Obrien ヶ月 前
That was genuinely the best youtube video essay ive ever seen
XShrike ヶ月 前
<a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="2302">38:22</a> Subtitles say "historically Shadowkhan group". Ha.
Emma Da Diddit
Emma Da Diddit ヶ月 前
@Lindsay Ellis, I'd be interested in a follow-up to this with Jojo Rabbit.
A Disappointed Horse
A Disappointed Horse ヶ月 前
I just had a look at the comment sections on some AHX clips. I am seriously freaked out.
J Pennant
J Pennant ヶ月 前
I remember watching this essay on satire by Mel Brooks and Fascism and their adherents like Trump and many in the GOP, people of the common earth even, who would be truly shocked to find out they are indeed functioning Nazis, as they see themselves as regular "Good People" that would never actually do anything bad. The academy award winning prisoner of war WWII movie "Stalag 17" had a funny but impactful line during a scene mocking Nazi indoctrination techniques: "Are we all goot leetle Nazi's?" "JAWOHL!". The Nazi guard, tho finding it funny pleaded with the POW's to tone it down asking "Are you guys trying to get me shot?!" Immediately all answered: "Jawohl.."
Tessa Veldhorst
Tessa Veldhorst ヶ月 前
Curious how you would critique Jojo Rabbit within this topic...
C. Hopper
C. Hopper ヶ月 前
Brilliant breakdown and explanation of why people need to stop hiding behind the name of Mel Brooks and start owning the reality that their 'satire' is actually a lame, offensive attempt at humor. ;p
Ed Tschoepe
Ed Tschoepe ヶ月 前
Interesting. In chapter 7, I expected you to say the intended butt of the satire was the broadway audience itself and not the nazis at all.
Kate C
Kate C ヶ月 前
I've watched this video like six times and I only wish that it had come out two years later because I would've loved to see you put Jojo Rabbit in!
DGPrepper ヶ月 前
When people say, "You can't make today," what they mean is that no studio would back it and no audience would watch it. However, you CAN make any movie you like. There's no law against making a bad, unfunny or offensive movie. Its only the social conscience that has changed - and that's generally a good thing. Now if only we could make some progress in shattering some of the puritanical, repressive, arbitrary "moral" codes that continue to dog the media still. Why is nudity and offensive language still considered more harmful to society than violence and gore? Makes no sense.
James A. Franklin
James A. Franklin ヶ月 前
<a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="65">1:05</a> I remember thinking that version of the song was an urban legend until I heard it in the background of a BMX game. It felt like that M&Ms ad, “He does exist!”
craisins95 ヶ月 前
Still one of my favorite video essays you’ve made and that’s saying something because they’re all great.
BearyOjal ヶ月 前
The band at the start, oh God the cringe
An Awesome Comrade
An Awesome Comrade ヶ月 前
Jesus Christ, the genuine nazi salutes at Trump Jrs speech is so horrifying
Artdefines ヶ月 前
Our high school had to take out all references to race when putting on a production of Hairspray. It was so ridiculous because no one understood that the whole point of the musical was to say racism is bad, not good. It just became a show about someone wanting to dance.
Then what was the point of doing the play in the first place?
Link 2 ヶ月 前
I appreciated your use of Monty Python's Mr. Hilter sketch. I feel like Holy Grail gets all of the attention today.
Link 2 ヶ月 前
What's the song at <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="176">2:56</a>?
Harmony Saolgrá
Harmony Saolgrá 2 ヶ月 前
I remember in HighSchool, a girl who was Very conservative, but Loved Steven Colbert. I never understood that until this. She literally didn’t understand that he was meant to mock what she believed
I don't want a channel
I don't want a channel 2 ヶ月 前
I'd love to see you update this in light of JoJo Rabbit O.O
Ray Caster
Ray Caster 2 ヶ月 前
When we say “you couldn’t make a Melbrook’s movie today” we are NOT saying you couldn’t make something like the producers or blazing saddles. Because the targets of their humor (The Nazis and The Mythology of the American Western) Are perfectly acceptable targetsFor ridicule today. Because today we know it’s OK to laugh at the Nazis and that the American west was a terrible racist era we shouldn’t mythologize. They were the holy cows of their era of film and it was satisfying and hilarious to see Mel Brooks tear them down. We ARE saying you couldn’t make something that BBQs modern day cultural holy cows the way “Blazing Saddles” did for the ones in its generation. Because if you did you would face horrible real world consequences to both your career and your social standing. Because social media has enabled overly sensitive people to shut down any kind of art they disagree with. If social media had existed when Mel Brooks was around producing Blazing Saddles, when the political right held power. Blazing saddles would’ve been shut down before it even got past preproduction. I dare you to try and produce a movie like blazing saddles or the producers but goes after. . . I dunno. Radical Feminism, or Islam, or violent Transgender Rights activists. (Basically anything that people in today’s world adamantly refuse to accept any satire about). It wouldn’t get past preproduction because those are cultural holy cows of our day. And nobody wants to take the risk out of fear of backlash from the people who have an interest in protecting said holy cows.
Adek Kamalov
Adek Kamalov 2 ヶ月 前
Made this too early with Jojo Rabbit having come out recently and all...
Erich Keser
Erich Keser 2 ヶ月 前
Magnificent video that goes deep and wide with unwavering brilliance and honesty.
Spirited Awaaay
Spirited Awaaay 2 ヶ月 前
Totally relevant because of Jojo Rabbit.
brad 2 ヶ月 前
I like the producers movie....and mel brooks.... before and after this video.
Der Giggler
Der Giggler 2 ヶ月 前
God you're really good holy shit
PhazonSpaceSystems 2 ヶ月 前
"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"
sira castori
sira castori 2 ヶ月 前
And to add insult to injury, 'Life is beautiful' shows American troops liberating Auschwitz, which was sort of liberated by the Soviets: I'm kind of sure that the reason why you guys gave that piece of shit film an Oscar. Btw, Brooks himself said that his pictures could not be made today because, of, I quote, 'PC culture', so maybe the truth on this topic is somewhat in the middle.
Diabetic Alien
Diabetic Alien 2 ヶ月 前
Nothing rubs me the wrong way more than people who say: "yOu cAn'T MaKe jOkEs aBoUt iT PeOplE DIeD" Am I going to be running around making childish jokes about how people died and thats sooo funny? No. But as you said, more dramatic pieces which show the true face of historical and modern fascism have been adopted by hateful groups than comedies. If anything, historical comedies have done MORE to push people AWAY from hateful ideologies. This isn't to say dramatic pieces are bad and we should stop showing history as it was, on the contrary. But satirizing history can be an effective way to, well, eliminate cultural PTSD, I suppose?
daniel claro
daniel claro 2 ヶ月 前
I see Hannah Arendt I upvote
Fire Tarrasque
Fire Tarrasque 2 ヶ月 前
I, personally, am an advocate for the Starship Troopers route. If we tell people that the fascist system is fucking horrible and bad, no one fucking listens, so let's just give them what they want. The *perfect* fascist society, all their ideals, and all it's good for is killing *fucking BUGS.*
Bennett Davies
Bennett Davies 2 ヶ月 前
I like the thought and dedication you put into your work.
Adam Norfolk
Adam Norfolk 2 ヶ月 前
What're you thoughts on Jojo Rabbit?
Uncomfortable Cat
Uncomfortable Cat 2 ヶ月 前
<a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="384">6:24</a> Ah! Finally i found a person who thinks Airplane is Meh.
Totally Nameless
Totally Nameless 2 ヶ月 前
Thank you! Thank you thank you thank you! You are a blessing upon the world, Lindsay Ellis. I don't know how you make it through your videos without screaming at some of the things people do.
Fernando Rufino
Fernando Rufino 2 ヶ月 前
Wow, I've been binging on your videos in the last days, and this is exceptionally great. Congrats and thanks.
Maya Gilstrom
Maya Gilstrom 2 ヶ月 前
Lindsay, watching this now really makes me wonder what your thoughts were on JoJo Rabbit, if you saw it. I personally thought it was the best movie of 2019, but I'd be really interested to hear your take.
Sawyer Phillips
Sawyer Phillips 2 ヶ月 前
<a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="88">1:28</a> is that mr shue?
Imani** 2 ヶ月 前
That's also part of why you can take justifiable issue with Tropic Thunder(2008). To make fun of racists and people who do blackface is one thing, but actually putting on blackface is another. In doing blackface, you change the target of the ridicule from the racists to the actual blacks, making you no different from what you're trying to satirize.
Aysa 2 ヶ月 前
Whites doing blackface or saying the n word are equally racist, and the n word is used a lot in Blazing Saddles. That being said I don’t remember enough about tropic thunder to say if it was effective satire but blackface could arguably be a tool for satire
Harvey 2 ヶ月 前
Do people only remember Hans Landa being fun? Do they not remember the chilling opening? The fucking apple strudel? I see what you mean but the bingo line made me shudder
CitanulsPumpkin 2 ヶ月 前
People may not have noticed it, but 2019 proved wrong every ignorant child who parrots "You can't make a Mel Brooks movie today." Go watch Jo Jo Rabbit. In 2019 the director of Thor 3 made a movie about a 10 year old nazi youth brigade boy who has to juggle the insane and childish things his imaginary best friend version of Hitler tells him to do while dealing with the fact his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their upstairs crawl space. The fact that this movie exists at all disproves the cliched "you can't be funny 'cause political correctness" party line that keeps getting vomited up by idiots.
CaityReads 2 ヶ月 前
I used to identify with the alt-right, and while it's definitely true that appropriating fascist imagery can accidentally serve to glorify fascism, this effect can swing both ways. As you mentioned with American History X, a lot of nazis like the imagery of the film, and a lot of the people I used to talk to posted it and made references to it. Wanting to see the original for myself, I watched the movie, and in doing so saw what the film was actually trying to say about fascism without having realized that I was going to see that (had I known, I probably wouldn't have watched the movie). Tricking fascists into thinking they're about to see something that agrees with them by appropriating images can, at least if my experience is to be believed, have a positive effect.
bobbler42 2 ヶ月 前
And Lindsay’s review of Jo-Jo Rabbit is…?
Danny0 3 ヶ月 前
You can't make a Mel Brooks like movie today Taika Waititi : "Hold my drink"
Vegetarian Soylent-Green
Vegetarian Soylent-Green 21 日 前
"If you were going to have a sandwich, you would prefer if no one had fucked it."
ilia katritch
ilia katritch ヶ月 前
@Uncomfortable Cat What does being a Vanilla comedy mean and what is a Mel Brooks comedy then, Chocolate?
Uncomfortable Cat
Uncomfortable Cat ヶ月 前
@ilia katritch it was still vanilla comedy.
James Austin
James Austin ヶ月 前
@jalapeño of justice It never treats the holocaust itself with comedy though. It makes the local wehmacht the butt of a lot of jokes about how incompetent they are, and makes the Gestapo seem like a threat while simultaneously getting laughs in the same scene by pointing out the absurdity of the whole 'hail hitler' thing where the line is repeated about 20-25 times in one scene, but even that scene is used for increasing tension and then any lightheartedness is immediately quashed by the scene following it. The only reference to the holocaust itself is the line which went something along the lines of "they were put on a train to somewhere you don't come back from", although it's pretty heavily implied by the fact the kids are indoctrinated to kill Jews on sight, but it still manages to not satirise the holocaust itself and avoids most of the same things that Brooks avoids. Plus, Taika's mother is a Russian Jew, so it's not like he's a gentile making the movie.
jalapeño of justice
jalapeño of justice ヶ月 前
Uncomfortable Cat Your opinion on the quality of the movie is irrelevant here, the discussion is about the ethics of making jokes about touchy subjects and Taika did in fact make a comedy set in nazi germany with a funny Hitler character. In terms of subject matter, it actually comes closer to addressing the holocaust than the producers.
Aussieportal 3 ヶ月 前
Looking back on what I may have said about this movie (I was one that used Mel Brooks as a defence), I now realise how ill informed I am. Yes Mel Brooks managed to get The Producers to work. But the thing about Satire is that not everyone may get it. There are lines where you just can't touch with comedy, without making yourself look like an insensitive prick. Then there's the added problem of political correctness.
stein 3 ヶ月 前
Your work is brilliant. On this and everything else.
Gilhelmi 3 ヶ月 前
I really should go back and rewatch all the Mel Brook's movies. He is such a comical genius.
Simon Sozzi
Simon Sozzi 3 ヶ月 前
I saw 'Life is Beautiful' in the theater. I was offended. Not like, start a protest offended, but it was SO RIDICULOUS!!! (It's not the worst idea for a film but the execution. If it had been done more like Pan's Labyrinth, then maybe. It wasn't actually from the point of view of the child so it made NO sense!)
luminesc 3 ヶ月 前
Great points, thanks! Tho the levels at <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="390">6:30</a> aieeeeee
Ellis Weintraub
Ellis Weintraub 3 ヶ月 前
Who are you Lindsay Ellis?! That was amazing.
Alia 3 ヶ月 前
I can't watch Captain America. He's too pure. However: they don't dance around the Holocaust in the comics. There have even been modern and futuristic concentration camps. Why would the movieverse?
jbvader721 2 ヶ月 前
Because Disney is pulling the strings of the MCU. They can't be too deep or thoughtful. It's all about the Benjamins for Disney.
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