The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Aristocrats... A Celebration of Free Expression...

Can mere words be as controversial as pictures or acts? Can language in a film be as provocative as images of sex or violence?

'The Aristocrats", a new film by legendary comedian (performance artist? magician?) and libertarian Penn Gillette and comedian Paul Provenza, proves to explore these questions. Centrered around an inside joke that has been floating around the back rooms of comedy clubs for three-quarters of a century, the film offers this nation's finest comedians (of this age and previous ones) the opportunity to shock audiences by letting them in on comedy's best-kept secret.

Over the course of the film, 100 comics, ranging from Robin Williams to long-perceived-as-"squeaky clean" Bob Saget, offer their take on this joke - truly a vile "shaggy dog story" (Saget, though apparently very clean on "Full House", was well-known in the 80s as a very dirty comic). Just about anyone who is anyone in comedy (with the notable exception of my favorite comedian, Patton Oswalt) has their version shown in this film (and apparently, every comic has his or her version).

Penn Gillette has this to say on the official website of "The Aristocrats": "The movie is a lot more than dirty words and disgusting images. The taboo language is not even the main thrust; the main thrust is a movie with no nudity, no violence and no conflict... The Aristocrats take for granted that they can say anything they want. Fighting for freedom is a losing battle. Taking liberty is what real Americans do. It's a love story, it's political, it's patriotic... but you shouldn't see it if you've ever been offended by any word ever ever... if you're going to be offended, don't bother coming."

The New York Times said the following: "The point of the joke, and the film, may be freedom of expression, or self-censorship, or what happens among professional comedians behind closed doors. But for practical purposes, the joke is so absurdly obscene that the viewer is shocked into hilarity, or deep offense. Or possibly both. The conundrum for those marketing the film is encapsulated in its tagline: "No nudity. No violence. Unspeakable obscenity." "

In that same article, co-film maker Provenza said, ""We're not trying to sucker punch anybody, not trying to trick anybody into seeing the movie. The movie is about creative expression, creative freedom. "

The point is, in America, you have no right to not be offended. You have the right to choose whether or not you want to see offensive material (or read it or hear it), but you do not have the right to tell others whether or not they can see, hear, or read something because it offends you (so long as nobody is harmed by the action).

You may not like "The Aristocrats" (the film). You may not like "The Aristocrats" (the joke). You may find them both offensive and believe that Messrs. Gillette and Provenza (and the hundred or so comedians who participated in the film) do be complete degenerates (as well as anybody who wants to see or enjoys the film).

That's your right. But it's their right to say those things, or for the audience to go and see them say it.

That's what makes America the greatest nation on Earth, and it's those prinicples the Liberty Blog is fighting for.

"The Aristocrats" opens August 12 in DC. Anyone want to come with me to see it?"


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