Given the low brow nature of many of the films we talk about here at the B-Movie Catechism, we’ve naturally never been ones to shy away from the delicate subject of flatulence. Besides, It’s not like we could avoid it even if we wanted to as the average person reportedly produces an average of 14 such events every day (now you know). The venerable practice of inserting fart jokes into popular entertainment has been around since at least the 5th century BC when Aristophanes let a few rip in plays like The Clouds and The Knights, and continued on through the ages, even finding its way into the works of luminaries such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Mark Twain. The Hays Code managed to keep the odorous subject matter out of motion pictures for years, but once the code was abandoned, it was only a matter of time before theater speakers everywhere were trumpeting Hollywood’s new found freedom to blast away. The honor of the first onscreen occurrence of audible flatus most likely goes to Pasolini’s 1971 adaptation of The Caterbury Tales (now you know that too, we’re full of knowledge today), but it was, of course, this scene that finally brought the gag into mainstream movies to stay…
Although it’s probably never been done better than Mr. Brooks did it (although I do have a fond spot in my heart for the Volare scene in Hollywood Knights), since the release of Blazing Saddles we’ve seen (or should I say heard) a non-stop barrage of freeps, rumblers, and breezers in movies, to the point where even a good portion of Academy Award nominees manage to somehow sneak at least one botty burp in.
Alright, by now, I imagine, some of you are probably wondering (assuming you’ve stuck around and read this far) what exactly is the point of discussing this. After all, is this really a topic for nice Church-going people to be wasting time on? Well, the great St. Thomas More certainly thought so. You see, back in 1518, this man whom Pope John Paul II once declared the “heavenly patron of statesmen and politicians”, penned an epigram entitled In Efflatum Ventris, or as it’s translated into English, On Breaking Wind. In this satirical piece, the future saint explained, “Wind, if you keep it too long in your stomach, kills you; on the other hand, it can save your life if it is properly let out. If wind can save or destroy you, then is it not as powerful as dreaded kings?” The man for all seasons wrote this piece during the same period in which he was working on a scathing biography of King Richard III, a book many historians believe was intended as a criticism of the tyranny of all royalty. And while the biography was never published, the epigram was, and it gets the same point across quite nicely, that in the big picture of things, the power of kings amounts to the same as a fart in the wind.
More was only slightly more impressed with elected representatives than he was with kings, but he still found them preferable. He wrote in a more serious work, “A senator is elected by the people to rule; a king attains this end by being born… The one feels that he was made senator by the people; the other feels that the people were created for him so that, of course, he may have subjects to rule. A king in his first year is always very mild indeed. So it is that a consul – one who shares his power – will be at any time as good as a king is in the beginning of his reign. Over a long time a selfish king will wear his people out. If a consul is evil, there is hope of improvement.”
Now, if you’ve been paying attention to the recent debates surrounding the HHS mandate, then you’re well aware that our elected representatives (our consul) here in the U.S. have seemingly forgotten that they are our servants and not our rulers. They have forgotten (or ignored) the fact that an ‘unalienable’ right such as freedom of religion is something that pre-exists the state and is therefore something which can not be given or taken away by any government, but only protected. They have forgotten all of that. Or given the state of our educational system, maybe they never learned it in the first place.
Either way, we’re going to try and remind them. This Friday, March 23, I’ll be joining up with what will hopefully be a sizable number of people in more than 100 cities across the country for The Nationwide Rally for Religious Freedom. The purpose of the rally is simply stated, “Stand Up for Religious Freedom—Stop the HHS Mandate!” If you’ve got the time, feel free to join us. You can check where the rallies will be held in your state at this site. Come on down and help us raise a stink. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Not like, uh, well, you know…