When we talk about movies that someday will almost certainly join Disney’s Song of the South (1946) in being disappeared by our increasingly fascist society, the titles most often mentioned are Blazing Saddles and Gone with the Wind. Another title soon to come under fascist fire will undoubtedly be MASH (1970), which is a shame, because the Robert Altman classic is a vital handbook in how not to go through life with a six-foot pole shoved up your tight ass.
If MASH is indeed saved from the coming book burn, it will only be due to an act of hipster revisionism where the characters of Frank Burns (Robert Duvall) and Hot Lips Houlihan (Sally Kellerman) are seen as the movie’s heroes, and not as humorless, busybody, preachy scolds gloriously brought down a peg by our heroes Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland) and Trapper John (Elliott Gould).
Look around you, look at how our world is shaping up — a world full of insufferable, humorless, self-righteous smugs treated as the moral heroes and authorities of our time. Tell me the difference between CNN’s sanctimonious Jake Tapper and the weasally snitch Frank Burns; between NBC’s bitterly dishonest Andrea Mitchell and the scheming, establishment suck-up Hot Lips Houlihan?
MASH not only taught us to laugh pompous asses like Tapper and Mitchell off the planet, they taught us to not allow that six-foot pole to grow like a cancer within us, a cancer whose worst symptom manifests itself in the form of a joyless, self-satisfied buttinsky always signaling our own virtues by telling everyone else how to talk, behave, and think.
MASH also taught us that when it comes to humor, intent matters, that the difference between satire and bigotry is intent. Which leads me to my point…
The New York Post reports that a bunch of little, self-righteous fascists “in a humanities class at Reed College blasted the inclusion of [Steve Martin’s King Tut] skit in their coursework, branding it a vile example of cultural appropriation — as they demanded that it be removed entirely.”
According to these joyless, witch-hunting book burners, this is now racist…
Sorry, there is nothing racist about good-natured humor and satire, and in that career-defining moment, in one of the most iconic moments of the 70s, Steve Martin defines good natured. Moreover, and I do not expect a bunch of prissy little know-nothings drunk on their purity to grasp this, the only thing Steve Martin is making fun of … is Steve Martin.
Maybe it is time to make Altman’s MASH required viewing before anyone is allowed to graduate high school and get anywhere near the rest of us in the real world.
But we will make a special version of the movie where every time Frank Burns appears on the screen, the word VILLAIN flashes… Because the Woke Generation is not only a steaming pile of bossypants, they are also flaming imbeciles.