You know what they say about heroes: They either die early, or live long enough to damn near kill themselves making a movie about Don Quixote, and then spout off a bunch of toxic bullshit about how they’re suddenly a trans black woman. That old axiom was never truer than in the case of director and Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam this week, who took some time out of showing off his new film, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, in order to whine about a recent BBC effort to increase diversity in its comedy efforts.
Specifically, the organization’s controller of comedy commissioning, Shane Allen, made a statement dedicated to the idea that the BBC needs to tell “the stories that haven’t been told and the voices we haven’t yet heard.” When asked about Python—both a comedy institution, and the work of “six Oxbridge white blokes”—Allen made it clear that, if he was assembling a team of comedy writers and performers in the modern era, it isn’t the route he’d choose to go.
Gilliam, for his part, took Allen’s comments about as badly as such a statement could probably be took, tackling the issue during a press conference for Quixote and declaring himself “a black lesbian in transition” in the process:
It made me cry: the idea that … no longer six white Oxbridge men can make a comedy show. Now we need one of this, one of that, everybody represented… this is bullshit. I no longer want to be a white male, I don’t want to be blamed for everything wrong in the world: I tell the world now I’m a black lesbian… My name is Loretta and I’m a BLT, a black lesbian in transition. His statement made me so angry, all of us so angry. Comedy is not assembled, it’s not like putting together a boy band where you put together one of this, one of that everyone is represented.
In other words, Gilliam has now embraced that hot new trend, defensive old white dude bullshit, in which any attempt at breaking up the status quo that he (sort of—this is Terry Gilliam, after all) profited from over the years is seen as some kind of personal attack. That posturing—and especially all the bullshit about deciding to be a black woman now so people will stop yelling at him—ignores the fact that nobody here is saying Monty Python isn’t good, or great, or legendary; they’re just noting that the world of absurdist white dude comedy has been pretty well explored at this point, so maybe it’s time to push back against certain institutional prejudices and give someone else a chance.
Hell, at least John Cleese managed to turn it into a joke: