Joel: Oh, brother, that was so crappy… Crow & Servo: *groans* Servo: Boy, what a depressing film! Crow: Yeah, talk about nihilism, that’s the second film in a row that had the hero die in the end! Servo: Boy, we’re never gonna snap out of this existential dilemma!
Joel: (playing* a keyboard) Oh, I was afraid this would happen so I brought this thing along… Servo: Joel, why was the movie so bad? Crow: Yeah, it was cool in the beginning with the sidehacking, then it went right down the drain and they had to pad out the rest of the film with all the killing… Joel: Oh, no, Crow, it wasn’t killing that padded out the film… Crow: no? Joel: …Only Love Pads the Film. (Begins singing:)
When stories were young And dreams were not done And sorrow was so far away A storybook scene With songs to be sung And life Life was just for today
Servo: Oh, Joel…
Joel: But nothing lasts forever Only love pads the film Of all the dreams you’ll treasure Only love Love pads the film
Servo: Joel, may I?
That love that you made With two hearts as one a flowers still blown in the wind
Crow: you give all you take a day in the sun but even the sun must descend la la
Joel: Everybody now, come on
J&tB: But nothing lasts forever (Gypsy: forever!) only love (only love!) pads the film (pads the film!) of all the dreams you’ll treasure (treasure!) only love (only love!) love pads the film (pads film!)
Servo: Aw, gyps…
Joel: The mad scientists are calling And now, we better get going…
We’ve got movie sign, MSTies: Joel Hodgson, a.k.a. “Joel,” has officially launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring back Mystery Science Theater 3000 after 16 years. (It was canceled in 1999.) The campaign quietly appeared on the MST3K official website earlier this morning, confirming suspicions raised by vague promises of “big news coming soon” on the Rifftrax and MST3K social-media channels. The campaign has the rather lofty goal of $2 million, which Hodgson says will enable him to make three full-length episodes of MST3K. With three additional episodes per $1.1 million raised over the original goal, that’s $5.5 million for a full 12-episode season. But if Zach Braff can do it, so can Joel and the bots.
So there I was, minding my own business as I brushed up on my queer film theory, when all of a sudden this book I’m reading (Harry M. Benshoff’s Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film) goes into a lengthy section about MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000.
There you have it folks: according to legitimate film scholars, MST3K is quality queer entertainment.
When we were doing Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in the early 90s, we were pretty much given complete creative freedom by Comedy Central. And there was no Standards & Practices division telling us that joke is too dirty or this joke is too offensive. In any case, we had our own in-house Standards & Practices division and it was called the Writer’s Room. There were always discussions about jokes that might be over the line or too crude or too whatever. If a writer objected to any joke for whatever reason, it was dropped from the script and that was that.
We lost quite a few fart jokes and border-line dick jokes in this process and often a cheap laugh was sacrificed in the name of good taste, and my heart would break because I love getting any kind of laugh, especially a cheap one. But many times a better joke would come along and I would content myself by indulging in low brow burlesque humor on my own time.
The current debate about PC comedy has got me thinking about this because when I look back to that glorious era of my life at Best Brains, I think in some ways we at MST3K were ahead of the curve when it comes to being “too PC.” In addition to going easy on the tasteless shit jokes I so loved, we were also very conscious about not doing jokes that would be offensive to women or gay people or any other marginalized group. Did we police ourselves? Absolutely. And as a result, there probably were some instances where we lost a great joke or two because we were being “Too PC.” But on the other hand, I’m proud that we went against the tide of the racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comedy that was quite prevalent back then. Most of us in the writing room were stand up comics, and we were all exposed to that crap on a nightly basis in many of the clubs we played.
So there can be no doubt that when writing our jokes we were sensitive to the feelings of certain genders and ethnicities. And maybe that is a form of comedic self-censorship. But you know what? I’m going to step out on a limb and say that the show actually holds up quite well.