Transnational themes::Monty Python's Flying Circus


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Transnational themes The overall humor of Monty Python's Flying Circus is built on an inherent Britishness; it is “based on observations of British life, society, and institutions”.<ref name="auto">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> However, part of this focus is achieved through seeing the ‘other’ through a British lens.<ref name="auto"/><ref name="auto1">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> The often “excessive generalization and utterly banal stereotypes” can be seen as a persiflage of the views held by the British public, rather than poking fun at the cultures that were depicted.<ref name="auto"/>

For example, while American culture is not often in the foreground in many sketches, it is rather a frequent side note in many skits. Almost all of the 45 episodes produced for the BBC contain a reference to Americans or American culture, with 230 references total, resulting in approximately 5 references per show, but increasing over the course of the show.<ref name="auto1"/> In total, 140 references to the American entertainment industry are made. Entertainment tropes, such as Westerns, Film Noir, and Hollywood are referenced 39 times. Further, there are 12 references to arts and literature, 15 to US politics, 5 to the American military, 7 to US historical events, 12 to locations in the U.S., 7 to space and science fiction, 21 economic references, such as brands like Pan-Am, Time-Life, and Spam, and 8 sports references. Some references do double count in various categories.<ref name="auto1"/> It is also notable that American music is regularly heard in the show, such as the theme to the television series Dr. Kildare, but most prominently the show's theme tune (The Liberty Bell by John Philip Sousa). While American entertainment was a pervasive cultural influence in Britain<ref name="auto1"/> at the time of the production of the series, not all references to American culture can be seen as conscious decisions. For example, Terry Jones did not know that Spam was an American product at the time he wrote the sketch.<ref name="auto1"/> Kevin Kern summarizes in his analysis of references to the U.S. 'that portrayals of American themes reflected three broad responses to American hegemony: 1) minor or passing references to specific individuals, events, or products of American culture, 2) American cultural tropes used to serve a general comedic purpose, and 3) satire aimed at American targets, specifically U.S. economic power, the crassness or banality of American culture, or American violence and militarism'.<ref name="auto1"/> However, Kern does not see this as exhibiting anti-American tendencies, but as 'a natural extension of the Pythons’ frequent (…) satirical focus on vulgarity, banality, violence, and militarism in the United Kingdom (…)' <ref name="auto1"/>

Monty Python's Flying Circus sections
Intro   Title    Recurring characters    Popular character traits    Lost sketches    Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus    Stage incarnations    Landing of Flying Circus    Awards and honours    Legacy    Production    Transnational themes    See also    References    External links   

Transnational themes