Mel Brooks must be laughing his head off:
A high school version of “The Producers” will be missing something in its performance Friday evening. The swastikas have been cut from the satirical musical about Adolf Hitler.
If someone scrawled a swastika on a desk at Tappan Zee High School [in Orangeburg, N.Y.], it would be treated as a potential hate crime. That helps explain why the stage will be devoid of swastikas when high schoolers present the Mel Brooks’ musical this weekend.
“There is no context in a public high school where a swastika is appropriate,” South Orangetown Superintendent Bob Pritchard told CBS2’s Tony Aiello….
A handful of Tappan Zee parents found the symbol offensive, and complained. After checking out the stage, the superintendent agreed.
“The optic, the visual, to me was very disturbing. I considered it to be an obscenity like any obscenity,” Pritchard said.
Um, does Pritchard actually know anything about The Producers, one of the funniest movies ever made? Released in 1968, the movie launched the film career of Brooks, now 89, a onetime Borscht Belt comedian who already had a hugely successful career as a writer of television comedy. The plot of "The Producers": A down-at-the heels Broadway producer (Zero Mostel) and a shy, bookish accountant (Gene Wilder) launch a scheme to fleece some rich old ladies who like to finance stage shows by raising huge sums of money from them to put on a musical titled Springtime for Hitler, a love story about the Fuhrer that will be so clumsily written and acted and so offensive in its subject matter that it will immediately flop, meaning that the two "producers" will get to keep all their investment money without having to spend any of it on the show. Instead, the audience interprets Springtime as a hilarious satire, and it becomes a huge hit–so the two end up in prison for fraud. The Producers itself (which won Brooks an Oscar for best original screenplay) was adapted as a successful Broadway musical in 2001.
And of course swastikas were onstage in Brooks's 1968 movie! They were part of the Nazi-mocking fun, along with the showgirls in jackboots and the fake cannons.
But nowadays the hand of political correctness seems almost as heavy as Hilter's own cultural censorship.
The irony is that in the original Producers the audience that was supposed to take the Hitler-glorification seriously interpreted it as hilarious satire. Now, nearly 50 years later they're interpreting the swastikas in Brooks's hilarious satire as deadly serious. We've come a long way…downward.