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David Zucker reflects on "Airplane!" in 2021 (commentary.org)
213 points by xqcgrek2 50 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 210 comments




> In 2014, when my son, Charles, then a 14-year-old, wanted to attend a party unsupervised, my wife wanted to know whether there would be parents present. “You’re not going to take drugs or drink alcohol, right?” she asked. “You know, there’s going to be peer pressure.”

> I couldn’t help myself. I jumped in immediately. “Charles, for example, you’re at this party and everyone is sucking d—k. What are you going to do? You have to resist the temptation.”

> Charles laughed. His mom shook her head. And I found a way to not be bored.

This strikes a cord with me. As a kid/teenager I learned some lessons a lot better because they came in the form of offensive humor. I still remember some of them word for word 20+ years later. I worry about this in the context of current day puritanism a lot more that I care about movies, TV, social media, etc. I think we're raising generations of stuck up people who will fall even harder in puritan extreme.


Also, there is a number of people (some documented) that cannot understand jokes, and not even rhetoric (irony, references, acting etc.): is it possible they were not exposed in their formative years? It is, symmetrically, quite bewildering to see those people unable to manage the non-literal. This is a lack in intellectual formation, and it sticks to some - similarly to the lasting effects of not having been "exposed to mathematics" (a number of articles emerged in the recent times).

Edit: in fact, there is much more to that, now that I think about it: in the past few years, I have met a large number of people who, somehow, basically cannot read: they have the text in front of them, but cannot interpret it, if it is not literal. It surely must be lack of exposure to intellectual challenge, even to phenomena that some would have called "normal daily experience". And they have degrees. How did those "cannot make any sense of it" people emerge? Lack of exposure to differentiated stimula is certainly part of it.


I have interacted with some of these.

    "Not understanding metaphor is a real handicap."
    "Are you calling me disabled?!"


I don't know about a handicap but I have shown people (say) Norm clips which I don't think are even that hard to get, and I just see a face like a horse that's been asked to book a holiday.

It's not the end of the world but as a shy extrovert who does enjoy talking about things I enjoy I do really like it when I say or show something to someone and they just get it.


Author David Thorne (of "Missy the Cat" fame) collected a number of especially remarkable ones out of his personal experience.


I'd argue you are calling them disabled as well, to some extent. Maybe I fail to understand the metaphor here as well and am disabled too. They are disabled to understand metaphors, no?


I'd argue you are proving the point of the P and GP.

Being handicapped (at something) does not make one disabled. Words have more than one meaning they also have context. The fact I cannot speak French, for example, is a handicap to me when I am in France but not when I am in England.

Assuming that the listener/reader has some level of comprehension (and things are not literally lost in translation) my personal experience of situations like this is often more of a problem of the listener/reader's insecurities.


>> They are disabled to understand metaphors, no?

No. I think the problem here is that some metaphors are used so often that people forget it is a metaphor and take it literally. You seem to inject the meaning (physical?) "disability" into the word "handicap"... are you aware, for example, of the practice of handicapping race horses, i.e. inserting weights into their saddles?


A bit late to the party and I am aware of what handicap generally means, but in this context I meant this term in combination with the fact that this person supposedly can't understand metaphors is disabled for the particular activity of understanding metaphors.

If your brain can't understand metaphors, you could say this common ability for you is disabled.

Also since most people do understand metaphors it can be interpreted that the poster is calling them lower in intelligence than most people which could fall into the zone of intellectually disabled.


Golfers have handicaps, but it doesn't mean they're disabled.

Even if a lot of them do need electric mobility aids....


You're downvoted but you might at least savor the irony in that the detractors seemingly didn't understand what you were implying.


> I have met a large number of people who, somehow, basically cannot read: they have the text in front of them, but cannot interpret it, if it is not literal. It surely must be lack of exposure to intellectual challenge, even to phenomena that some would have called "normal daily experience". And they have degrees. How did those "cannot make any sense of it" people emerge?

Reading little blurbs on social media and having to make the most toddler'ish value judgments on the spot about them? Everything is assessed by its literal value, and whether it's good vs bad, for vs against, etc.

Like this reply of mine, for example...


> As a kid/teenager I learned some lessons a lot better because they came in the form of offensive humor. I still remember some of them word for word 20+ years later. I worry about this in the context of current day puritanism a lot more that I care about movies, TV, social media, etc. I think we're raising generations of stuck up people who will fall even harder in puritan extreme

Amen, brother! As a parent of a middle schooler, I have this exact worry. At his age, I was much more offensive and crude, but I like to think I turned out ok. Meanwhile he’s growing up in an era where the language has been ultra gentrified.I went to school in the 90s, when professors cursed freely & wrote “shaft the customer!” on the blackboard to express their solidarity with Alan Perlis, with no consequence of repercussion. No way you can get away with that today in a CS class. These days there are actual rooms called Salesforce Lab & Infosys Building in a university nearby, because of the funders. When I worked at Sun, Scott McNealy sent an email that said “we are at war” and pointed out it took 13 bytes to send those utf8 chars as a txt file on unix but 1.5MB to do the same as a doc file on Windows. It got a lot of offensive “fucking micro$oft” replies & forwards complete with the dollar sign throughout the company wide network - imagine if such a thing is possible today. I took my kid to the hospital for the flu shot & routine annual. So the doc walks up to him with a very serious expression and tells him in a somber voice - “Now I am going to take a look at your private parts, and that’s ok only because your dad is here, otherwise we both know nobody is supposed to look at your private parts. ok ? “ I was drinking a cup of starbucks & spilt coffee all over the fucking floor doubling in laughter. He was not amused. Afterwards, he said, in my time we’d just say drop your pants & show me your dick motherfucker. But those days are gone :(


One of these is not like the other. I agree with all your sentiments except for the last one. Having experienced close friends dealing with child sexual abuse, I'm very thankful that children are educated about such boundaries very early on.


I think it's also some circular reinforcing, like Hollywood trying their hardest to ride every wave (perceived as) trend and milk it dry, so they'll get to lead that wave - in the minds of some viewers at least. On the other hand, do we see that over-puritanism also in the daily lives? Or it's just on the screen and we mistake that for real life? Bear in mind that there's also a world outside the US too, and both humor and sensitivities vary a lot.


I'm from Eastern Europe and the motivation for my post is the way I see friends and coworkers raise their kids. US culture for better and for worse has reach and influence all over the world.


I'm from Eastern Europe too and live since half a life in Switzerland. I can tell that the jokes I knew from back there were deemed offensive for local tastes and this is definitely not a consequence of today's changes - they found them offensive also back then (like 25 years ago). Not only jokes but also reactions to daily situations. So maybe what you noticed is not wokeism but just globalization of social norms (I'm sure there's a fancy word for this).


> maybe what you noticed is not wokeism but just globalization of social norms

Could it not be the case that these social norms are taken a bit to the extreme? I do not call it wokeism myself since that encourages easy labeling and dismissing of ideas. But I do think it has been taken too far.

Profane language and offensive jokes have always been offensive, yes. That is why I called them offensive... They have to be used sparingly and with care. But not being able to use them anywhere anytime is too much. That is my opinion for what it is worth.


Yeah, I have a similar (EE) experience.

A few years ago during some discussion about Africa a guy (who apparently turned on his wokeness to 11) called people there African Americans - people who lived all their lives in Africa and have nothing to do with America.


I don't think this is "wokeness" so much as the centering of American perspectives crossing the streams with reasonable skittishness towards the prospect of referring to black people in an undignified manner (which, frankly, would simply be adding insult to trillion dollar injury). Can't blame white people for wanting to save face.


That has been going on for a while. At least fifteen years ago, I read an article about the Irish police busting a guy who was doing the Nigerian letter thing out of an internet cafe. The man was described as "African-American", though there was no evidence given in the article that he had ever crossed the Atlantic.


Fun Fact: Airplane! is a spoof of the Paramount film Zero Hour (1957) which is itself a clone of the wildly famous John Wayne Classic "The High and Mighty" (1954), which was the first disaster film and a breakout hit. Robert Stack, who plays the captain in The High and Mighty, also plays the captain in Airplane, as a parody of his previous role.

It's pretty cool to watch The High and Mighty after Airplane and recognize so many of the scenes, including the sweating pilot, the little life stories of the characters, the operations manager (Regis Toomey) pacing back and forth in the control room, etc.


There's a terrific side-by-side comparison. Sooo many parallel scenes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-v2BHNBVCs


Such a great watch! Thank you for sharing this :)


They got the rights, so it's more of a remake.


In the German dub those black guys had to speak in some unintelligible dialect, but of course there's no such thing as German jive.

So they made them talk in a very thick Bavarian dialect, which made the whole thing absurd on a higher level.

The 70s and 80s had some great talent behind German dubs.


I remember many years ago when I watched it with Turkish subtitles (or dubs, can't remember) that they translated the line "Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?" to Greek prison :D


That is pretty common in translations.

For instance in Fawlty Towers Manuel (the much put-upon waiter) was from Barcelona, often said in a mildly derogatory (silly foreigner) manner as in “don't mind him, he's from Barcelona”. When translated to Spanish, Manuel was renamed Paolo and his origins were moved to Naples.


as a native english speaker and fluent german speaker... airplane is the only movie that is even BETTER in the dubbed version. The bavarian scene absolutely kills me.


I'm French and I also find Airplane (and also other ZAZ movies and many 80 and 90's American comedies) to be way funnier in the local dubbed versions. It kind of add a layer of absurdity, dubbing writers and actors were really creative.


There’s a Russian dub of LOTR deliberately made to be absurd. As noted by the GP, this adds an additional layer/way for the movie to be enjoyed.


For context for those unfamiliar with German dialects: dubbing a stereotypical Black person with a Bavarian accent in German is the cultural equivalent of dubbing them with a German or Swedish accent in English.

Of course the joke mostly works because it lampshades bigoted cultural assumptions about race in Germany: a lot of Germans in the 1990s said "Afro-Amerikaner" when they meant Black (regardless of nationality, even Germans) because they thought it was more "politically correct" and the thought a Black person might be a native citizen never occurred to them. This has improved somewhat over the years but since the film was originally released in 1980, I doubt the cultural awareness was any better at the time.

To be clear: I'm not saying the joke is bigoted, I'm saying the joke worked because it played off bigoted assumptions.


My ex-wife is black African, and we live in the UK, and she's on a number of occasions had white British people "correct" her when she described herself as black and offer up "African American" instead. At which point she'd tell them in no uncertain terms how annoyed that made her exactly because they were either blindly parroting something without thinking about what they were saying or making assumptions about her background rather than asking (as well as, of course, implying they have a right to impose on her how she should describe herself).


Can I take the opportunity to ask how she feels about 'person of colour'?

I find it absurd, a ridiculous beat about the bush, that was never necessary growing up having friends who were 'black' and that was a fine description just like I'm 'white', what of it, and indeed closer back to (what was then at least) the out of favour/racist/not politically correct 'coloured'.

But as I said, I'm white, so it's not up to me, and if that's really what people prefer then fine - but I have the impression that it's a predominantly American (I mostly only 'hear' it online) turn of phrase, that's spilled over a bit sure, but generally not used/preferred here?


In the UK I think most people would feel weird about "person of colour" in some contexts, but ok with it in others. E.g. if it's used to specifically call out a wider shared experience, then it can be fine (but mind your audience, and "BAME" seems to be more common in the UK for that, though it's worth noting that some also dislike that term as well for various reasons, but nobody seems to agree what ought to replace it), but I would feel very uncomfortable about describing a specific person as a person of colour, if e.g. trying to point someone out in a crowd. (EDIT: At the same time: Some self describe as person of colour, and if they do simply respect their preference).

But it'll depend on background, age, and attitudes, and really the best approach is to just ask people if unsure, as some terms are wildly offensive to one group and not at all to another (prime example of that is that is how "oriental" is deeply offensive to many in the US, while it's not at all uncommon for people to describe themselves as oriental in the UK)


"Person of colour", in my corner of the UK, is considered as bad as "coloured", for the same reason really: it "otherises" anyone who's not white, presuming that the world is made of "whites" and "others".

But really these things are not really logical in most cases. Ad es. blacks are blacks, but then you have "asians" who are not "east-asians" nor "south-asians", "latinos" that definitely did not originate from anywhere near the Italian peninsula, "white-irish" as different from "white-british", etc etc. In the inevitable public-authority forms, these days I'm often tempted to just tick "Mixed-other" - I'm whiter than daisies, but in my blood there are probably a dozen different "types of people" who invaded Italy through the centuries (africans, germans, etc etc).


Maybe I just don't get the social or cultural context, but this always confuses me. There's plenty of occasions where referring to one's skin color is relevant.

I'm light-skinned enough to be close to ginger, for instance, and this subject has both practical, conversational and occasionally humoristic value when the subject of being outside in the sun comes up. If I'm planning any sort of trip with someone who even has southern European ancestry, not to mention Middle-Eastern or African, it's hardly an unnatural subject to show up in passing.

From that context, it seems incredibly silly that the whole subject just be taboo and remain unmentioned.


It's generally not taboo when everyone is sure of each others intentions. E.g. I could if I wanted to safely tell my ex a borderline racist joke and she'd know there was no ill will intended, but if a stranger told her the same joke she'd be wondering what the intent behind it was.

Establishing that trust can sometimes take a while, but it tends to help a lot to simply ask about which terms someone prefers etc. if unsure, because just expressing a willingness to adjust tends to be a good sign.


I don't mean to speak for GP, but I'm also in the UK and pretty sure they meant the specific phrase, not mention of skin colour at all. In my experience 'black' here is as casual, normal, and inoffensive as 'white' or 'brown'. (Assuming it is relevant of course. If you're just arbitrarily chucking the description in all the time then yeah it doesn't matter what word or phrase you call it, it's still discriminatory. It'd be just as weird to do so with 'white'.)

If you mean re 'mixed other', I think the point was just that the categories don't apply well, and 'mixed' is technically true of essentially everyone so eh why not. (I believe 'white - other' is an option though, if that's applicable.)


yep, this.


My sense of the term is that it is intended to be inclusive: not just black people but also Asians, South Pacific, Native American extraction, etc. so it’s not referring to the same group of people.


In some contexts PoC is appropriate because it is pretty much catch-all for "not white" (where "white" is used the same way as in "white supremacy", referring to a racial category defined by the absence of other racial identities).

In other contexts it is more precise to say Black because Black people experience a specific form of oppression by being Black, not just non-white. The same is true for other identities (like Indigenous) that are also part of the BIPoC umbrella, of course, but this is why it is often rendered as BIPoC rather than simple PoC.


Another white person here but I think it's probably a useful term since it's more broad. Saying black is specific but person of color just means not white.


> Saying black is specific but person of color just means not white

Is Obama black or white?

As a father to a mixed race son, where people draw the line on whether it's "OK" for someone to self-identify or be described as black vs. white is a topic that interests me, and it's wildly inconsistent (but leaning strongly towards it taking far more white ancestry for most people to "accept" that people call themselves white than the reverse), and highly politicised, and there are absolutely no clear lines.

EDIT: I've spoken to my son about answering the inevitable "but where are you really from originally" with "Norway" for example, if he feels safe doing so (and safety is a real concern with that), since I'm Norwegian. It's just as accurate as answering Nigerian (his mother is Nigerian), which would be the answer most people asking that question would be looking for, but would hopefully make at least some people stop to think why they were asking it.


Which, sorry but, makes it a very dubious expression because it seems to be definitory of a narrow set opposed to a wealth of difference. Suppose you were Italian (a "Macedonia" of mixed blood since the ancient times, where the heterogeneity in physical traits is pretty high, but without a sense of "tribal" difference within that broad set): it would appear to make more sense to use the term "white" for the most eburneous sun-threatened Irish, than to say "white versus coloured" for people that already show very varied in their looks - in their """shades""", if you wish.


Is it used more broadly though? I've never heard it (self-describingly) from anyone of (East/West/incl. Indian subc.) Asian descent for example.



Interesting, ok, thanks. I've definitely never heard that here. I'd say in my own experience 'brown' is even more common as a self-description than 'black' (per capita as applicable).


That means nothing.

Who is "white" has changed throughout history.


I was from Europe, but not from Germany. I was also taught to call black people "afro americans". It didn't makes sense, but apparently this was thought of as the only right thing to do.


I think the unspoken assumption was that Black people only exist in the US or Africa, partially because many people would have likely seen or interacted with so few Black people in real life that their main reference frame are Hollywood movies and North American television shows.

I don't think I heard the phrase "Afrodeutsch" (Afro-German) until well into the 2000s and one of the kids in my class in the 1990s was Black. I even remember thinking he must be American because of that.

I think there was a period of general confusion in the 1980s and 1990s around what language to use as the German words "Mohr" (originally from "Mauretania") and the German equivalent of the n-word became socially unacceptable and there was a widely held belief that referencing skin color directly was also unacceptable because of a lack of understanding about the actual underlying reasons for this language change (i.e. bigotry and power structures). There's a general sense of detachment I think because this discussion is usually framed in terms of language use rather than actual oppression because Black people are rarely even acknowledged to exist.


It's a direct translation from "African-American", which is similar to Italian-American or Irish-American.

I think the latter two can also be applied to 2nd, 3rd, etc. generations, so there's no assumption about native citizen or not.

Slurs like Goombah, Kraut, Mick are also applied to later generations (according to Hollywood movies).


The point is they were Germans and called Black Germans "Afro-Amerikaner" even if none of their ancestors had ever sat foot in a US territory let alone been citizens.

The implicit assumption was that because they were Black they couldn't be German. "Afrodeutsch" ("African-German") came significantly later.

In Germany (and I know the equivalent is true for many other countries) the term "German" is racialized and often used in a way that Americans use "white". Americans are far more willing to call an African or Asian American simply "American" than Germans are to call an African or Asian German simply "German". Also nobody will care more about your distant ancestors being Italian or Norwegian than they will care about them being Swabian or Bavarian, but if you are non-white, you will always be treated as a foreigner even if you have a Bavarian accent.



Aside note: since they have been less available to some, it is possible that some may have missed the Police Squad! (ZAZ 1982) series or The Kentucky Fried Movie (Landis 1977). I must recommend to those who only know the prominent works (Airplane!, Naked Gun etc.) to find and try the preparatory works.


Also Top Secret! ZAZ 1984 (and my favourite of the lot).


"My name is Deja Vu. Haven't we already met?"


Surely. Lots of genial ideas there. And the ZAZ members themselves do not see that (with reference to the commentary): it's so natural to them that they themselves diminish it; this is why, also elsewhere here, I noted that genius is beyond intentions. And if I have to attribute something overwhelming importance and weight, it's genius.


Police Squad! Is great.


Police Squad recently got a beautiful remastered Blu-Ray release.


Oh good; i caught the first DVD and it sucked. Bad VHS rip grade.



I have been cracking up everytime I see Martin Short walk into any scene on Only Murders in Buildings.

Just watching his facial expressions as his character tries to make sense of things, he has no capacity to process is priceless. Then ofcourse he proceeds to come up with the most ludicrous answers to whatever problem with all the overconfidence in the world. That routine has me literally rolling on the floor.

I dont think the woke/anti woke bs matters. There are really lots of ways to make people laugh if you really want too imho.


My favorite bit from this series was early on when they were about to call Mabel but he hesitates and says "Calls bother them for some reason".

Martin Short is amazing in this series! Actually all 3 of the main characters are great


'Airplane!' is something like 'Family Guy' - and please note, for cartoon fans; I'm not saying 'South Park', here.

There's an episode called '200'; (or something) where 'Family Guy' creator Seth MacFarlane discusses the show along with many of its voice actors, producers, etc.

He mentions that 'Family Guy' is absolutely not meant to be a high-brow humour show; and that part of the technique of the writing of 'Family Guy' is, in his own words; guided by how many jokes a minute they can get - how many times they can make the audience laugh.

If we have a casual pause in a show; someone looks to the camera, dead-pan, and just, quite seriously - says, 'penis' - out of the blue - I'm gonna laugh my ass off. I love intelligent humour as much as the next girl, but there is a nuance to some of the low-brow humour in 'Airplane!' that is just as complex to pull off effectively as a well-told and intelligent joke by Bill Maher, Norm MacDonald, or George Carlin.

We are talking about a 41-year-old film, in a genre (comedy) that famously doesn't age well. 'Airplane!' probably shouldn't come off well today, if it follows our previously established rules of comedy.

That being said, it's still hella funny.


I recently watched it with my 15 years old son. He laughed a lot and at the same he was surprised how they dare to make some of the jokes, he thought some were really wild.


Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking.


Well I really picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue!


> I’m the guy who, on a soundstage, yelled, “Who’s blocking the camera?! I can’t see what’s on the monitor!” The assistant director replied, “It’s you, sir, you’re standing in front of the lens.”

This is amazing. I have to imagine this inspired one of my favorite jokes from Naked Gun:

> Frank: [looking into microscope] I-I can't see anything.

> Ed: Use your open eye, Frank.


He's right that mainstream comedy is going through a period of self-sanitising but there's plenty of good stuff to find outside of Hollywood. Maybe even today you couldn't make Seinfeld.


It's not a pizza until it comes out of the oven!

It's a pizza the moment you put your fists in the dough!


He is still the master of his domain


I'm out


Pfft. Everybody knows this movies real name is "Flying High".


>Without trust, audiences begin to question the intentions behind every joke, they take jokes literally, and they use their collective voices to bully comedians and pressure studios against taking any comedic risk.

This is the meaty bit right here. Because you have people who tell jokes that are racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, ageist (normally wouldn't include that but I gotta play to the HN crowd), etc. and either 1) go out and actually do bigoted things/maintain relationships with outwardly bigoted people, or 2) the people who enjoy the jokes go out and do bigoted things and use the joke as cover.

If you want to test this, go on 4chan right now and ask people how they feel about the difference between "black people and niggas" (Chris Rock) or "how white people are better" (Louis C.K.). (If you argue that 4chan isn't representative of the general public, you can try Facebook, but, uh, you're taking your life into your own hands with that crowd.)

The problem may very well be less that people won't tolerate transgressive humor today, as it is that people can't be trusted with transgressive humor today. Some people see it as rhetoric, not humor.


> This is the meaty bit right here. Because you have people who tell jokes that are racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, ageist (normally wouldn't include that but I gotta play to the HN crowd)

As an ageing HNer, I liked that last bit because it reads like a joke, made me laugh, and consequently enabled my trust in what you say. I don't think you are ageist simply because you understand that some people can be mean to older people. Reality is fucked up. Being able to find humor in this reality isn't necessarily a sign of also being morally bankrupt.

The ability to produce humor is a sign of intelligence. And laughing to it is but an expression of understanding.


I think this is fear mongering.

People know the difference, and will mostly do it whether or not the comedy exists.


I love this movie, I feel it defined the whole spoof/slapstick genre. The bar scene with the girl scouts fighting and then everyone starts disco dancing is great. “… it was worse than Detroit!” Haha


The genre was really defined by Young Frankenstein a few years earlier, but arguably Airplane! is funnier (faster and even more absurd in gags). The decade 1974-1984 was a fantastic period for comedy.


The one-minute courtroom drama "Over Macho Grande" from Airplane II, while not a Zucker credit, is worth a mention here because it's so immaculate => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JswFF2dKiLM


Airplane Space Balls Eddie Murphy RAW Monty Python GhostBusters

Man, I can't wait for the pendulum to swing back the other way and bring back comedy everybody is offended by (in equal doses) and laughs at honestly. Hollywood has to go un-woke first, though.


The first 30 minutes of Airplane are absolutely incredible. Frankly, I am surprised the "Joey" jokes made the cut even back then. They surely don't make them like they used to. Maybe in 10-15 years the cycle would start over.


This movie simply hasn't aged very well. The jokes are pedestrian. Many of them take aim at people's sex or race, but not in a challenging way.

I'm not offended by any of the jokes, and I still laugh at some of them, but mostly because of nostalgia. If you're reacting poorly to people being offended by some of the crude race/sex based humor, I hate to break it to you, but you're getting offended in an even worse way than them.


> Many of them take aim at people's sex or race, but not in a challenging way.

Interesting, I wouldn't summarise it that way at all.

If I had to characterise it so succinctly I'd say many of them play on language, and I think it's as funny now as when I first saw it (probably early 2000s).

"How soon can we land?"

"I can't tell."

"You can tell me, I'm a doctor."

As you said in another comment I suppose, it's a lot of 'dad jokes', but I don't know why you think it hasn't aged well.

Slapstick, highly visual comedy, and 'dad jokes' is hardly a massive on-screen genre; I might agree it hasn't done well over time if there was more of it, modern stuff, more developed somehow. But it's still so unlike most comedy films to me that I think it'll always make me laugh.


I've seen it a few times over the years. So many classic jokes. Last time, on Australian TV, before it started, there was a voice-over and onscreen warning "Recommended for Mature Audiences". That was (unintentionally) funnier to me than anything in the movie!



You sound like the kind of person who insists there is no stopping in the red zone.


You sound like the kind of person who thinks everything is black and white.

I love comedy. I like some of the jokes in Airplane. I think most of the jokes are dated and the movie hasn't aged well.


I'll agree that some of the jokes are dated - you can't smoke on airplanes anymore, but the idea that most of the jokes are dated?

Shirley you can't be serious? The word play and visual comedy in the movie is classic. The Roger/Clarance/Ouver take-off sequence, Leslie Neilsens deadpan "Dinner was the chicken or the fish? - yes I remember, I had the lasagne", the guy waiting in the taxi, "everything is ok" as the pilots are dragged down the corridor, Stiker being stationed outside of Drambuie. Hell I think Airplane has the first dramatic double-sunglassed removal.

There is so much clean, zany humour in that movie - the idea that you can claim classic, surrealist comedy is dated makes me question whether you believe that statement at all.


One that always gets me and is timeless, when the flight attendant hits everybody with the guitar when bringing it forward.


You ask someone else upthread when they last saw the movie. No offense but when was the last time you saw it? Very few jokes haven't aged well unless you just stopped liking puns and dad jokes, which would be a You thing, not a movie thing.


A small portion of the jokes make less sense out of their time, but you’re perhaps too hung up on the movie having “aged well.” People age a lot more than movies do. There were middle aged people just like yourself unimpressed by the constant idiocy of Airplane’s humor four decades ago, also nonplussed by how funny others found the film.


Don’t give us that red zone shit again.


Oh really - we both know perfectly well what this is about.


Surely you can’t be serious?


I think he is. But he isn’t called Shirley.


That's not important right now.


> The jokes are pedestrian.

That's the joke.


I love a good stupid joke, and these may have been funny at the time, but as I mentioned, they haven't really aged well. A lot of them are topical. Nowadays most of these jokes would feel lazy (because they are).


They feel lazy because everyone else has been copying them for the past 40 years. Another commenter was talking about “dad” jokes - where do you think “dad” learnt that type of humour?




The classic "Seinfeld isn't funny" effect


I don't think they are lazy. It's a lot of funny, original, creative and clever writing and delivery, it's very different from anything else, so I can't call that lazy. And I find it funny even without nostalgia since I wasn't born at the time. All of the humour being so unexpected is what does for me and much of it is hard to catch or understand during your first try, which also makes it intellectual challenge to try and understand everything.

I don't even think they are "stupid" jokes.


The actors are good. Their delivery and timing is good, and that saves some of the jokes. You can deliver a lazy joke well and get a laugh, it doesn't mean it isn't lazy.

When was the first time you watched this movie? Was it as an adult? Recently? If you watched it when you were young, and you're not young anymore, that's nostalgia. It has nothing to do with when the movie was produced.


I watched it recently with my SO and saw it when I was young and they had not seen it before. We both laughed our heads off.

And we both recognize humor at the expense of the other, but that simply isn't what 90% of the humor in Airplane! is. Compared to what came later in the 80s and 90s it was quite self-aware.


I may have seen it as a child, but I watched it recently and I don't think I had enough recollection of it to have any nostalgia at all.


AS others have said, they seem lazy as they've been copied ad nauseam in the 40 years since the movie. I believe that Airplane! was the first zany comedy containing these ridiculous types of jokes. Many movies have followed and tried to copy the humour but have failed. Will there be discussions in 30 years about Scary Movie and its sequels? I doubt it.


Not true. Go on Youtube and look at the number of people (a lot of them younger) that still enjoy the movie thoroughly. There are a few scenes that no longer hit as well as they did 30 years ago, but the majority still works.


>Many of them take aim at people's sex or race, but not in a challenging way.

I don't think you have to be too challenging funny.

This scene still makes me smile a decade later:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9lYVwNEf48


I have to disagree, sure some jokes are about sex and race but its not the majority by far. And some of those jokes are actually good. Even when it came out, some jokes fell flat.


What about the architecture? The alternative world drawn? The originality of the whole product?

You look at the pebbles and have not spotted the cathedral. You overworked the left analytic hemisphere and left the right synthetic one bumping for attention, you "I will only do pecs at the gym because legs are for losers" pedestrian you, comma slash jay.

The architecture is pure genius, the jokes serve it.


Make the case for those. This is very pretty pose but it doesn't really say anything except that you think these elements exist without any real criticism to back it.

Airplane! is still funny to me but I've never looked at it as anything more than a well delivered (almost) 90 "anything for a laugh" reel.

In fact, the world building part where they establish the backstory is the weakest part for me as structurally it serves as a pause from the non-stop schtick for most of the present day sections, but the differences are very prolonged jokes that don't survive a first watch in my opinion.

The genius isn't so much the architecture it's the delivery and the speed. You don't get time to fully think through everything that happens and the actors play it straight for the most part. There is comedy atop a functional parody and as soon as the gag is done it moves on to the next progression.

In general I like Zucker and his movies but I think here both he and you misunderstand why his movies worked then and which elements worked. The scene with the kids and the lame "like my coffee" joke is not a good scene not because of the joke's adherence to puritán values, but because the entire joke is "look these young kids are saying things adults should." They can't deliver the lines with the same commitment to the short term deviation from reality and it falls flat.

The joke Zucker references in the article about sucking dick again falls flat for me not because of inappropriateness but because it's a lousy joke for someone not in the room or having that relationship dynamic, it's a weak joke without much substance besides the shock of "[Dad] said suck cock".

It's not about right vs left here, it's about understanding what's funny and why stuff is funny. The discussion earlier on this thread about the German dub is a perfect example where the idea of the funny is what makes it work, even if there is no such thing as jive in German; the core logic of the joke is understoodand that's why the dub worked. Comedy has a logic to it and if it's understandable immediately, it's funny because we get how they got to that point. Even early 2000's random humor had a logic to it, albeit a little out there, but there's a reason that it worked for some flash vids and not others.

Comedy is all of the brain, and arguably even more logical part as you have to get the joke to laugh at it. I think we all know a time when someone got the joke way later because they just didn't process it or couldn't process it.


I just noticed: that joke you called «inappropriate ... lousy joke for someone not in the room or having that relationship dynamic, ... a weak joke without much substance besides the shock» is actually a bathos. These suggestions of addiction, peer pressure, insecurity, doubt, urgency - they are all pathos, the mother stressed. At some point, the father intervened with a "proposal" that put all of that in proportion, and deflated the pathos into bathos. Sympathetic system, parasympathetic system. To suggest that you can laugh about it and live it healthily - also because, since you have the wits required to laugh, you can also use them to avoid pitfalls and come back home without male pregnancy and not addicted to heroin. Take seriously the things that should be taken seriously, respecting a healthy limit. As suggested by the bathos. Which "teaches" you to "breath".

I'd say there's more to it than what you saw.


(I apologize for the stub, unfortunately "I have to run".)

Why should it be «Comedy»? Maybe it can be just a big construct using jokes. (The intention of the creator does not matter.) Maybe just the "simple" development of absurd over deadpan - which is not "comedic" - defines a core for that cathedral.


Because you called the comedy bits pebbles ;).


> They can't deliver the lines with the same commitment to the short term deviation from reality and it falls flat.

Looking at some YT reaction videos of that movie, that line always get people laugh ting. It gets some of the best laughs of the movie in fact.


You're putting way too much thought into this movie. It's a movie of dad jokes with good delivery and timing. I can appreciate that, but it's not a work of genius.


What one would call "dad jokes" are a small part of the endless array of gags in the movie. From sniffing glue, to the queue to hit the anxious woman, the swordfighting when panic breaks out, speaking jive, blowing the automated pilot, the turkish prison bit - it's a relentless sequence of all possible types of humor.

Comedy doesn't get enough respect because "it's just laughs", but this shit is hard. To pack so many accomplished jokes in such a short movie is genius - particularly in 1974.


Again (really, again): it's not "thought", it's "eyes" (analysis vs synthesis). On this side. On your side: you are just not seeing it.


You should respect comedy more, it's way harder to do than drama.


I first watched the film in the early 2000s. I was politically a lot more right-wing then than I am now and enjoyed edgy humor to the point I even frequented 4chan. Not one of the jokes landed for me.

I now call myself a socialist, have an interest in social justice causes and intersectional feminism and am as leftist as I can get. I still can't laugh about any of the jokes.

I think the biggest factor is that the movie plays off tropes of 1950s and 1960s Hollywood movies and this creates a massive cultural disconnect since I have barely watched any of those and the few I did I deliberately watched as an adult.

For similar reasons most of Mel Brooks' movies also never did it for me. I grew up in the 1990s and at the time prime time television happily recycled movies only a few years old rather than digging through the archives.


> I still don’t fully understand why there’s a problem with making a joke that gets a laugh from an audience, even if it is mildly offensive.

Because it could be bullying.


Making people constantly worry that what they're doing could be "bullying", could also be bullying. It doesn't eradicate the core problem, it exacerbates it.

Society is a messy place - and has and always will have roughness where its edges meet. Some entertain an understandable fantasy that a perfect one-size-fits-all solution to this problem, that will make the messiness go away, is to be found in trying to force other people to do something different. Ie, by bullying them.

That's not where the solution is found. It's just the same problem repeated back.

I've been bullied, and it absolutely does not happen anymore. The bullies didn't change - I did, and I'm much better off for it. To put it another way: I hold the power.

When enough people realise that, that's when these problems end. If you look throughout history, nothing else works - it just leads to more bullying back and forth, and eventually, war.

Zucker is right, one component of this is not taking ones-self too seriously - the one thing uniting all bullies, all those who commit atrocities, is they take themselves too seriously. They are incapable of accepting the possibility they could be wrong. So high they elevate themselves on a pedestal of self-righteousness in service of some ideal utopian vision that they eventually lose all compassion and ability to empathise. This prevents the realisation of any such vision.

If anything, it's laughable.

Being able to laugh at ourselves is not just important, its essential. The current state of the world is testament to that. Granted, at the other extreme, where comedy knows no bounds and anything can be called funny - even watching people suffer - is just as bad.

And it's a domain entered by those who didn't check themselves at bullying, and went on to atrocity, and progressed to the final stage - sadism - as they push toward an ideal dream of a future perfect, above the reality of the dysfunction that push is creating right in front of them.


Imagine living your life in such fear that you worry about being bullied at a comedy show.


1) Replace "joke that gets a laugh" with "art". Enriching intellectual experience.

0) «bullying»?! A joke - irony, something intended not to actually state the literally expressed? You really should explain yourself. That idea of bullying is unclear.


Why did the chicken cross the road?

Damn you my chicken just died! Offensive!

3 men walk into a bar.

Damn you my son died in a bar brawl. Offensive!

If you do, or say anything, ever, someone will be offended. It’s really best to ignore them.

Saying some general, non-specific words, is not “bullying”.


You really should stay away from George Carlin.


If a joke indirectly offending someone is bullying, how do you feel when comedians do "crowd work"?


I guess it depends on which end of the joke you are. And how often do you have to deal with it. It could be just a joke, or straight up bullying mascarading as joking. I am sure you know what I mean.


Others have already written about this extensively but there is a difference between humor that punches down and humor that punches up. There's also a big difference between the joke being bigotry and the joke being that a character is bigoted.

In the Airplane! cockpit scene the joke isn't that the pilot makes the stewardess and kid uncomfortable by sounding like a pedophile, the joke is that he's supposed to be a heroic character but acts like a total creep. It's a subversion of expectations based on the tropes of 1950s/1960s Hollywood movies.

Likewise the scene with all passengers lining up to slap the woman while shouting at her to calm down doesn't make fun of women for being hysterical. It makes fun of the sexist trope of women being hysterical and needing to be "calmed down" with physical violence. The sexism isn't what's funny, the sexism is what's being made fun of.

The problem with modern comedy is that a lot of political punditry has moved to taking the form of comedy and "it's just a joke" (or for a few years on YouTube "it's just a prank") has become a way to defend actual bigoted statements.

When a conservative pundit who is opposed to gay rights calls a gay person a homophobic slur or follows a mention of them with a caricature of them wanting to have oral sex with a lot of men, the "joke" only works if you share the idea that gay people are sexual deviants and bad. It isn't really a joke, it's just mockery.

The reason a lot of older comedians find it hard to adjust is not that comedy has changed. The mechanics of humor have largely remained the same, it's just cultural attitudes and politics that have changed. If your politics have remained the same, you'll find it harder to do comedy expressing those politics now than when they were more closely aligned to mainstream.

In other words, if you used to have a close circle of friends with misogynist opinions a misogynist joke may have gotten a few laughs out of them. If they've all grown out of it and matured in their understanding that women are actual persons rather than just objects of sexual attraction, your old jokes will no longer work on them. They may not actually get offended, but they won't be amused.

Jokes work because they carry a message through a combination of context, content and subtext. If that message is expressing support for an oppressive social dynamic, it can be bullying. It's that simple.


I agree with you. I like your statement "The sexism isn't what's funny, the sexism is what's being made fun of.". Similarly, in this article there's a line "a joke can illuminate uncomfortable subjects by giving us permission to laugh at them". At my corporate job, we have a focus on diversity and in these times of Black Lives Matter and COVID related anti-Asian sentiment, we've been challenged to think about how we talk to our kids about jokes. Here's my take...

I've tried to express this to my teenager - that sometimes these jokes that seem racist/sexist/ist are actually making fun of the absurdity* of racism/sexism/ism, but it can also be hard to tell sometimes, and many jokes truly are bigoted. As someone who hears an off-color joke, try to cross examine it before knee-jerking taking offense (although, often offense is warranted), and as someone telling an off-color joke, be very careful* in your delivery.

For jokes, there's a time and a place, and the flip side to that is that there's a wrong time/place too! For example, I like the joke "I want to go peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather.... not screaming like the passengers in his car" - but I would never tell that to someone grieving the recent loss of a grandfather or someone who passed in a car accident. And given the current BLM movement and the anti-Asian sentiment - this is definitely not the time for some jokes. My teenager is mixed race, half Asian (prefer not to say which), and they and their friends sometimes feel like they have the green light to make certain Asian jokes. I've told them these are not the times to make those; in other times, it might be okay, but keep a lid on that stuff until some of this passes, because this is serious - it's not the time.

And very importantly: just because you find an off color joke funny as opposed to taking offense, it doesn't mean that you're a racist/sexist/etc... and it doesn't mean that you have a character flaw. But just because you find the humor in it, doesn't mean your insensitive or bigoted. As a society, we shouldn't be afraid to laugh and we shouldn't virtue signal by jumping to offense. But if someone takes offense to a joke that you make, you're almost always the one in the wrong (not always, but almost always, so do some self reflection).


Absolutely, the content of a joke matters as much as the context. This not only includes the setting and audience but also the speaker and the audience's understanding of the speaker.

This is especially relevant for in-group jokes and self-deprecation. A Black person performing for a Black audience can poke fun at Black culture as a form of self-deprecation, but if a white person tries to perform the same joke to the same audience the intention will get muddled, and if the audience is white it quickly turns from laughing at yourself to laughing at a marginalized group.

This effect is also why there is no such thing as the "n-word pass": even if a Black person tells you as a white person that they're okay with you using that word and even if they're honest, that only makes it okay in the narrow context of conversations between you and them. Even having another person around can quickly get messy.

Likewise "Karen" originating as a pejorative against white women "playing the victim" sounds very different coming from a Black person or a white man.

Language and communication are complex and jokes are just another way to communicate ideas with language, even if the ideas may be somewhat non-obvious.


Then the point remains in discriminating joke and joke. Especially in the current confusion and climate of manipulation, it is important that people are led to understand what is e.g. mockery of bigotry, vs "bigotry and mockery". Oversimplifying the world and its expression serves no one (it is damaging).


In short, "punching up" == politically correct?


The only people who care about political correctness are liberals and conservatives, and the latter group more so than the former (which is why they are more likely to engage in "dogwhistling"). Political correctness is about the "how", not the "what".

Making jokes about Jeff Bezos is punching up. Making jokes about the homeless is punching down. The reason so many people got mad at Dave Chapelle is not just that he mocked trans people (which is a marginalized identity) and is cis (which isn't). It's that he thought being Black (which is also a marginalized identity) excused it because he completely ignored that Black trans people even exist. He assumed that as a Black comedian he was always going to be punching down regardless of whom he ridiculed.

The term "political correctness" among conservatives is often an expression of the assumption that everyone else is hypocritical and bigotry is the norm. But it's not about hiding your bigotry, it's about actually holding a different opinion. Political correctness is good in so much as it makes it harder to promote bigoted views, but it's insufficient when it comes to solving latent bigotry in a society or subculture.


I remember a recent discussion (on the slatestarcodex successor, I think) that a lot of 'punching up' is actually complaining about how (some) lower class people have too much money..


From the article.

> The root of the problem is a loss of trust. Comedy is ultimately about trust. The TreePeople audience laughed at my joke because they trusted that I hadn’t actually molested young boys. My kids laughed at my jokes because they love me, and they know they’ll be beaten senseless if they don’t. Without trust, audiences begin to question the intentions behind every joke, they take jokes literally, and they use their collective voices to bully comedians and pressure studios against taking any comedic risk.


We need a class action lawsuit against Twitter for enabling all of the neurotic and humor challenged people.


Non paywalled version: https://outline.com/r9eR5x


I wonder if there’s a simpler explanation for the fact that the guy who directed Scary Movie 4 is not revered to the extent he once was.

Nope. Can’t think of anything. Must be the woke mob again.


Are you talking about the Scary Movie 4 that made even more money than his previous Scary Movie 3, to the extend that he was allowed to direct Scary Movie 5?

I won't argue these movies are as good as Airplane! or the Naked Gun series but as someone who basically only watch comedies, he has a point, it's a sad state of affair you get in America, and by extension the Western world.

What recent (non-animated) funny movie or show have you seen that is not "feel good" or filled with sexual jokes?


The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

The comedic writing of this show is superb and though it involves some blue humor, it’s hardly reliant on it.


Super underrated show. The other shows by the same creater Gilomore Girls and Bunheads are also great.


> What recent (non-animated) funny movie or show have you seen that is not "feel good" or filled with sexual jokes?

I don't really watch comedy films but I watch a reasonable amount of comedy shows:

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, 30 Rock, Atlanta, Avenue 5, Fleabag, The Good Place, Silicon Valley, Resident Alien, Barry, Home (UK), Mythic Quest, AP Bio, Tacoma FD, Ted Lasso, Russian Doll, Veep, You're the Worst, Better Things·

I'm not sure what your qualifier for "recent" is so feel free to ignore some of those.

Sure a lot of these aren't farces like Airplane or Scary Movie but it's not all feel good or dick jokes. There is plenty of comedy out there for all types of tastes.


A good selection, but yes some of them are not recent, already over, or they started a long time ago and kind of get a free pass.

And Ted Lasso is actually feel good (s1) or not really a comedy anymore (s2) ;)


Brooklyn 99 was pretty good. Not sure, if it counts as 'feel good'?


Brooklyn 99 is a gem, only slightly marred by excessive quantities of product-placement. In so, so many ways, its humour is directly descending from the Airplane! tree.


Watching 'the 99' pretty much always made my household feel good. That's why we watched the whole thing.


Death of Stalin. Really good movie.

Hello to Jason Isaacs.


Maybe you've lost connection with laughter and humour. What sorts of movies do you find funny?


Tropic Thunder (which would be nearly impossible to make today).


It was nearly impossible when it was made. It truly rode the crashing wave.


It's not just him, these topics are on every comedian's lips these days. Dave Chappelle dedicated almost an entire tv special to them. Zucker and Chappelle are rich and well-credentialed enough that they can stick their necks out, they will survive; but for two people who speak out, there are hundreds of other comedians who cower in fear of their livelihood being taken away by a single "wrong" joke. It's basically the first topic that comes out whenever comedians are in a "candid" situation.


You have missed the point of the article. It's not just about him. It's comedy in general; Zucker can just naturally relate his own experiences and perspective most accurately.


I mean there are plenty of boundary pushing comedies out there if you look. We've just moved on from the spoof/farce a thousand jokes/references a minute in popular culture at the moment, I'm sure they'll come back at some point, there is plenty to lampoon right now but the zeitgeist seems to be more satire than spoof.



not actually a dupe. that link is for the NY Post; this one is for Commentary.


It’s the exact same article.

The only difference is the publication - previously a Murdoch-owned conservative rag and now a self-declared neocon publication.


it's not though. I read both articles before posting. there's certainly overlap, but there's difference as well.


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LIE fetishized it. You could probably make dramas today.


caption: this was a joke about Zucker's inability to cope with the changing times.


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Airplane! is considered to be a good comedic film. Bearing that in mind, what makes you say that its writer lacks talent?


I'm assuming you read the article where he says none of his jokes could be made today and that good comedians have gone into hiding. I'm saying there are great comedians out there that have no problem creating great comedy, comedy that easily is able to avoid the impossible pitfalls he is intent on describing. That's laziness.

For the record, I love Airplane. But this take of his is pure laziness and self pitying.


Name one of the top ten comedy films of 2019.


There were ten comedy films in 2019? Is that your point? It's been a comedy desert as of late as far as movies go.

The trailer for Dave Chappelle's Sticks and Stones (2019) shows him walking in a literal desert. The top comedies of that year seem to all be stand up specials, does that really count?

Comedy only comes woven into dramas now.


He states that:

> Airplane! would probably not have been made, and Police Squad! (the ABC sitcom that was the root of the Naked Gun movies) would have been cancelled after two episodes instead of six

the idea of losing masterpieces is utterly, totally unacceptable. Masterpieces are irreplaceable.


Google the interenet search engine would not have been founded in 1853, you would not build stables, had water troughs and a salon for the apple campus in 2021. There is zero chance Rocky would win an Oscar today.

It is (or at least should be) acceptable for taste, culture and technology to change over time.


«taste» is a median, «culture» is a median. Local phenomena. Genius is above that struggling growth. That those petty things may inhibit the creation of something remarkable is unacceptable. The "taste and culture" of some random ones, even when overwhelmingly numerous, should remain in its place, and not act as inhibitor. Especially of something precious which could have been but may get discarded: these would be huge losses. (Also and furthermore, because there are really bad products around, so Quality and Reach (as an other perspective for the idea "Genius") as exemplary parameters need to be defended as ideals.)

Would you be glad to be in a world in which the Airplane! project gets discarded for some local cultural reason?

--

Edit:

Furthermore, there is a difference (understatement) between evolution (eu-volution) end devolution (dis-volution). An example: I read a particularly undignified article today in British press (a childish reaction to other pieces, which displayed bad reasoning and lack of intellectual method and development). Alasdir Campbell remembers articles of his rejected in his times because they were "thin": based on presumptions, written just to write, shallow: bad quality. At the time, the journalist had quality controllers. Today, apparent dumbness fair. Disvolution. Interestingly, the trend seems to be an "everything passes" in structures, and censorship on individuals. So, «change» per se is not all of it: there is progress and regress, gain and loss.


It very nearly did. It is ALWAYS a world where such a project is nearly discarded. The way they got it made, and I've got a DVD with 'making of' commentary about this, is by working insanely hard and cramming in so many jokes at such a breakneck pace that the result is just giddy, demented comedy.

That will ALWAYS be possible. You don't get to half-ass it and think just being offensive is enough. Check out the Red Letter Media take on 'Top Secret': these producers had a LOT more going on than just being offensive, and that is absolutely a factor in 'Airplane', hugely so.

The secret is that the offensiveness is only one of many surprises executed at a audacious, rapid pace. In 'Top Secret' they got considerably more surrealist, but that's exactly when you can get away with an offensive joke: disorient with confusion, then pull a silly gag where it's apparently mean but the target of the gag is actually the straw-man power guy (HEDley…)

No matter WHEN you're doing this, if you half-ass it you've got no chance. Comedy's actually a lot of work.


> taste and culture are local phenomena. Genius is above that

A movie is a commercial enterprise created in the local time and space. They are converting so called "genius" into a medium to communicate it.

Too early / too late, too slow / too fast. Get it wrong and genius is not genius at all it is just stupidity. There is quite a bit of selection bias when you consider that the subject matter is 40 years old, and how many brilliant minds have tried and failed over that period.

Find the secret to threading the genius through the eye of the needle and you have gold.


Wait, you're saying Zucker "lacks talent"? For real?


No, I said his take on "it's impossible to make comedy these days because of social justice warriors" is a fallacy and a lazy take on his own current lack of talent.

Edit: I said lack of talent and it does read that I'm saying complete lack of talent. What I should have said is that this is a poor excuse for a current lack of talent.


Zucker actually addresses this:

  > Unlike my peers, who can channel their rage into more socially acceptable
  > psychological projects, I have no marketable skills aside from crafting jokes.
Of course, the brilliance is that this is itself a joke. Self-depreciation.


> current lack of talent

I thought his commentary was witty. Much wittier than mine.

I saw Airplane when it was first released. I laughed so hard my gut hurt. Many thanks to the Zucker Bros for that!

(One of the jokes that almost nobody gets is when there's an exterior shot of the jet, you hear the sound of a 4 piston engine bomber. I love how the Zucker movies are stuffed with nice touches like that.)


I remember reading that it was a compromise:

- ZAZ wanted to the movie in a propeller plane (and B&W)

- The studio would only fund it if it were a jet and color, since the audience would identify with modern passenger jets.

So, they agreed with the jet, but switched the sounds instead.


The studio was right. Nobody these days wants to see a B&W movie except for cinephiles.

I've opined before that new viewers would be attracted to older movies if they'd use AI to colorize them. Sacrilege! I know, I know, but colorizing an old movie is not a destructive process. I don't see an actual problem with redoing older movies to be more watchable by a modern audience.

(One could also add a decent soundtrack to silent films, not those godawful squeaking violins or somebody doodling on a pipe organ. And bring in some foley artists! and some voice actors to dub the dialog and get rid of the title cards!)


Unless my memory fails me, Turner colorized a bunch of old black and white movies. Are these colorized versions still around or did people decide that they hate them? I honestly don’t know.


He did. They have vanished from distribution. I've seen some of them, and they just looked terrible from the primitive coloring technology they used at the time. Modern colorizations look far, far better, like "They Will Not Be Forgotten" where WW1 footage was colorized.

A lot of people cried "Abomination" when Turner did that, saying he was destroying the old films, but nothing of the sort happened. Just like someone photoshopping color onto an old Civil War picture (a popular thing to do) the originals are undamaged.

People do really great jobs colorizing old photos, it just brings them to life. I have several in my wallpaper folder.


Such as?


Chappelle would seem to be a relevant comparison.


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There are two black dudes speaking straight Ebonics, and the whitest woman in the world translating for them. Zucker (who is Jewish) would immediately be excommunicated and branded a Hitler for filming this in 2021. One of the funniest scenes in the history of comedy, and the genre is immeasurably diminished by the current inability to film such things. As is the arrival of the sheriff scene from "Blazing Saddles" by Mel Brooks. "Blazing Saddles" is one of the most potent bits of anti-racist satire ever filmed, but there's one problem: the woke mob lacks the sense of humor. So the movie (I kid you not) comes with a "trigger warning" now, specifically for people too dumb to get the meaning of the movie, and what it aims to satirize.


While there is truth to this, there are a whole bunch of people who would want to make Blazing Saddles not to be Mel Brooks, but to be Andrew Dice Clay. Anyone who insists too loudly that 'they can't make Blazing Saddles' is probably looking to have the surface level of those jokes, without noticing the real target of 'em.

I mean, we had Borat. Like hell you can't have Blazing Saddles, etc. The reason a 'woke mob' kicks up a fuss is because we're mainstreaming 'Blazing Saddles' but NOT as a joke. And that changes things quite a lot.

Doesn't stop with Borat. Have you ever heard of 'Boondocks'? Check out the animated series of that.


> Anyone who insists too loudly that 'they can't make Blazing Saddles' is probably looking to have the surface level of those jokes, without noticing the real target of 'em.

And that assumption is the problem.

'You do not want censorship? That means you are a racist'.


Try to film a "Borat" style comedy that goes over the leftist tropes, rather than right-wing/rust belt ones, and you will quickly discover that there exist certain types of comedy that aren't conducive to one's success in Hollywood, even if the result is funny AF to everyone but Twitter intelligentsia.


"A Mighty Wind". Follow-up to 'This Is Spinal Tap', but instead of heavy metal it's lefty folk singers.


You're offended that a satire is called out via text before a movie starts, in order to let more people in on the joke?


Honestly, I kind of am. I find it ridiculous that people can't tell that something like Airplane! and Blazing Saddles are satires. Needing that much hand holding explains a lot about people today. It's also like how Netflix now has warnings that a show/movie may have smoking in it. Come on, be an adult and learn how to deal with things that make you a bit uncomfortable, that's called life.


Wouldn't it just be easier to ignore those warnings? Are you similarly affected by the PG/PG-13/R ratings on tv shows and movies?

I'm not trying to attack you, but there is a major /r/selfawarewolves in the mindset where people get offended by what other people are offended by. We could all do a bit better about just ignoring things that aren't relevant to us.


No, I'm not offended by that. I'm just disappointed that we kowtow to moralist busybodies with the IQ of a house plant, and the sense of humor of a door knob, and this is somehow deemed not just socially acceptable, but "virtuous". It's a rather obvious, and a rather pointless death spiral, with increasingly stringent, humorless, and insane purity tests for all involved. Were it up to me, we'd be mercilessly laughing at such people.


The number of people complaining about “woke culture” are statistically disproportionately members of groups that are not traditionally insulted in media.

Furthermore, this “take” requires a level of historical naïveté that borders on pure narcissism. A lot of social “fixing” looks like an “over correction” in the short term, but in the long term that’s just how things get dealt with.

As a loose metaphor, If you put your hand on a stove you don’t lift it a millimeter off the heat source, right? That would “fix” it.

Surprising no one, I couldn’t find a single essay from this concerned citizen about the death of George Floyd, or anyone else for that matter.

But he found plenty of outrage and cultural commentary for the temporary death of the commercial viability of his outdated sense of humor.

That IS funny, actually.


It's not "overcorrection", it's pressure to not wrongthink. The method is the problem.

Why is he obligated to write something about George Floyd? This touches on compelled speech.


He’s not obligated to at all.


You required him to do so before being able to express himself.


> I couldn’t find a single essay from this concerned citizen about

So basically: you are in front of a phenomenon of corrupt police and its relative systemic acceptance, all of which is rooted in mental pauperty, and your idea of «fixing» is to restrict artistic expression?

And would be a duty of any creator to write articles about any occurrence or phenomenon!?

«outdated»!? Masterpieces and milestones get «outdated» in which sense? Do you mean "then rejected by some society" for some reason outside inherent quality? Arbitrary filters of cultural contribution, according their special state and needs?


I reread my post several times and couldn’t find the section where I suggested that the solution is to “restrict artistic expression” so I stopped reading your post beyond that as it was surely a response to someone else.


So what are the examples you propose instancing that «over correction»?


He is a comedian talking about comedy. He makes some good points you might agree with or not, but I cannot understand why it matters how many essays he has written about George Floyd's death. If that is the new low bar to talk about something, the hand is already kilometers away of the stove. It's cold in there.


By your own rhetoric, your sense of humor will become outdated too one day and you’ll just have to live with it because progress.


Yes! And it's worth getting comfortable with change and learning from it, instead of being weird and reactionary about it.


I find it funny (pun intended) that you consider this learning, when on a basic level it's the opposite of that.

If anything can be deemed offensive (and it will be, because there are people who profit from scolding others), and nothing is ever forgotten in the internet age, the eventuality of your mentality is no one being allowed to communicate about anything at all.

What's worth doing is making fun of you, ironically. Because making fun of people like you is, historically, how flawed ideologies are cast aside.


Are you confusing "making fun of" with "offensive", or "punching down"? These are not the same things.


Try to describe the difference to a woke mob, then


> Try to describe the difference to a woke mob, then

Exactly.


I'm not confusing anything, it's you who has a basic misunderstanding of how this all works.

You don't get to determine the rules and context of communication for other people, you only get to determine them for yourself. I don't mean rules and context in a modern political and/or cultural sense, I mean them in a basic interpretive sense.

The text is in the eye of the beholder. Not in the eye of the mob who didn't read the text.


>are statistically disproportionately members of groups that are not traditionally insulted in media.

are you sure? In regards to HN, are there no negative stereotypes of nerds, geeks, computer programmers out there? How about those with autism, or ADHD - I mean I find myself insulted quite a lot in life, never mind in just the media.


Do you have any evidence that the majority of autistics are complaining about "woke" culture? As an autistic it's my understanding that if anything we tend to be overrepresented in "social justice" causes online because we tend towards systems thinking and systemic critique tends towards leftism and liberalism whereas conservatives usually emphasize "personal responsibility" and individualism.

There are many cases of people using autism as a justification for reactionary behavior but the people I see most loudly attacking them for it are other autistics.

Shows like The Big Bang Theory which undeniably make fun of autistic traits usually also carry a lot of other messaging progressives find distasteful (e.g. in this case, misogyny framed as "charming" and "dorky" because the characters are portrayed as unthreatening or downright impotent). Nerd culture especially of the late 90s and early 00s is also rife with sexism, racism and ableism while especially nowadays also undeniably having extremely progressive spaces within its subculture (e.g. TTRPGs in particular are a space for experimenting with identity and gender expression which can make them especially appealing to queer people).

The negative treatment of nerds, geeks and programmers in popular media (which has btw massively declined since the 1980s and especially within the dot com era) in my experience also doesn't come from "woke progressives" but rather neatly follows anti-feminist ideas of masculinity, ridiculing these groups for failing to satisfy gendered expectations. "Woke" critique usually focusses on the sexist, racist and generally bigoted attitudes often still present in wide parts of those cultures but even more so in gaming (which is so widely acknowledged even within gaming culture that "heated gamer moment" has become a popular phrase to refer to someone openly spouting bigotry).


>>are statistically disproportionately members of groups that are not traditionally insulted in media.

>Do you have any evidence that the majority of autistics are complaining about "woke" culture?

You're right that is probably the weakest part of my response, since I don't have any particular evidence.

On the other hand the disproportionate members of groups seemed specifically in reference to people on HN who are likely to be in the group of nerds, geeks, programmers group. So if those groups are among the ones on HN complaining about wokeness, then I guess it doesn't really matter that the parts of the media they are getting insulted in are parts getting attacked as non-woke.

The original argument was that groups (on HN) complaining about wokeness are comprised of people not insulted by media. I suppose there are people on HN who find wokeness distasteful even if they are among groups that might be helped by it in some contexts.


That's not true. Jewish-, Italian-, German-, Irish-Americans have any number of bad characters and slurs applied to them in Hollywood movies (many of the "intellectual dark web" are Jews!).

"Zucker" is also a Jewish name, so his ancestors will have experienced a fair share of racism.




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