Robin Hood men in tights the American Robin Hood with a British Accent

The outlaw hero arises when there is a need for social justice within a community. When there is an ethnic or cultural group that is being oppressed an outlaw hero is created to stand up to the oppressors. Some of these outlaw heroes are modern and close to factual like the outlaw hero Veerappan from India. While other outlaw heroes like Robin Hood are hundreds of years old and their stories have become convoluted with myths and folklore legends. Mel Brooks took a collection of Robin Hood sources and used them to create the movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights.  Brooks’ overall intention for his movie was to pay homage to the nineteen thirty-eight movie Adventures of Robin Hood,  while also being a parody of the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. 

Mel Brooks does follow several early sources for his retelling of the Robin Hood story yet because the Robin Hood: Men in Tights movie is a parody of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Brooks must rely on other non-historical sources for his movie. Originally in the nineteenth century Muslim characters were written into Robin Hood stories as villains. Yet the creation of Robin Hood’s Muslim companion is a new edition to the Robin Hood myth. The British television series Robin of Sherwood in the early 80s created a Muslim character that was also Merry Man. The actor Mark Ryan was originally a Muslim villain in the pilot episode but was so well liked on the set of the television show by the other actors, that the creators wrote his character into the television show, as a regular character and part of Robin Hood’s outlaw hero group the Merry Men. While the Muslim characters in the Robin of Sherwood television show and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves  is stoic and strong individuals that strictly followed Muslim customs. Brooks created a father and son Muslim duo that provides comic relief while not following Muslim customs.

Similar to the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves the Muslim character in Robin Hood: Men in Tights gives a speech that rallies the Merry Men around Robin Hood to fight against their oppressors. The speech given by the actor Dave Chappelle in the Robin Hood: Men in Tights movie is similar to the speeches given by African-American activist Malcolm X. Brooks uses moments like this in his Robin Hood movie to give his Robin Hood story an American flare. The Muslim characters in the Robin Hood myths were a fairly recent creation just like the idea of the Robin Hoods antagonists using witchcraft in their fight against Robin Hood.

Brooks uses the Robin Hood myth of a witch in his Robin Hood movie to conspire with Robin’s enemies; the origin of this character begins with the television series Robin of Sherwood.  The witch character is only given more credence with the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves movie. The witch in the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is more than an oracle; like in the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves movie. The witch is the mother of Robin Hood’s main antagonist, and a demonic monster that participates in satanic practices. Mel Brooks’ witch character is more of a sex crazed woman than her freighting satanic counterpart in the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The witch in the movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights pursues the Sherriff of Nottingham sexually just like his own overzealous sexual attempts on Maid Marian.

Robin Hood stories from authors like Thomas Peacock created a strong feminist myth of Maid Marian. This myth has probably continued because modern women cannot relate to the problems of Medieval England women that suffered from forced marriages. Originally Marian was being aggressively pursued by Prince John; Brooks uses the idea of the Sherriff as Maid Marian’s sexual antagonist because he wanted to make the Sherriff the main villain like in another Robin Hood story A Lytell Gest of Robin Hood. Some Robin Hood storytellers like Peacock have decided to create a stronger and more independent Maid Marian. The Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves movie used the Peacock version of Maid Marian where she gives the appearance of some combat training. Mel Brook’s Robin Hood story depict Maid Marian as being saved by Robin from overzealous courters Mel Brooks gives a better description of what would be expected of a medieval woman (damsel in distress) unlike the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves who portrayed Marian as sword fighting maiden that fought back against Sherriff advances.

The movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights does not just rely on modern sources for its retelling of the Robin Hood legend. Mel Brooks stays very close to the early Robin Hood legends. In the documentary on the making of the Robin Hood Men in Tights movie, Mel Brooks remarks that he is aware of the fact that the original Robin Hood did not steal from the rich and give to the poor. Brooks’ version of his Robin Hood retelling mentions that Robin Hood steals from the rich and gives to the poor, but this Robin Hood does not give to the poor, at any point during the movie. Brooks shows he is familiar with early Robin Hood myths like A Lytell Gest of Robin Hood. Brooks greatly excels in keeping with the original Robin Hood legend in his movie, by creating a very witty and charismatic Robin Hood Character.

Part of the definition of an outlaw hero, is that the hero is lovable and clever. Throughout the movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights, the actor Carey Elwes delivers sarcastic witty quips with expert comedic timing, when he taunts either Prince John or the Sherriff of Nottingham. The use of the Sherriff as the regular Robin Hood antagonist is found in the A Lytell Gest of Robin Hood.  The bumbling Sherriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Men in Tights is reminiscent of the same type of character in the nineteen thirty-eight film Adventures of Robin Hood. Both the Sherriff characters in these movies are constantly outwitted by Robin Hood, this is important for establishing a good social bandit character. The movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves comes up short when trying to create a witty and charismatic Robin Hood character. The actor Kevin Costner is one of the most disliked actors to portray Robin Hood because his character lacks the same wit and charm as a Carey Elwes or Errol Flynn.

The Robin Hood stories for years have centered on the ideas of celebrations and singing, at May Day festivals in England.  The music and singing of Robin Hood stories have become important to the modern Robin Hood myths. Robin Hood music became popular in operas and the movie Adventures of Robin Hood was the winner of the nineteen thirty-eight Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score. Mel Brooks also had several songs in his Robin Hood movie; one song purposely questions the ambiguous homosexuality of the Merry Men which was a scholarly belief of the Robin Hood tails. With Maid Marian singing in the Robin Hood: Men in Tights movie creates a generally more feminine role which is more in line with the old stories of Robin Hood instead of a liberal and feminist Maid Marian character that was created by Thomas Peacock.

Since Anthony Munday in fifteen ninety-eight Robin Hood stories were starting to focus on Robin Hood’s nobility. Robin Hood playwright Anthony Munday is credited with fulfilling “…the trend towards gentrification that had been clear in the chronicles Major and Grafton. Before the writer Munday there was a beginning of the gentrification of Robin Hood but Munday brought this Robin Hood characteristic into the mainstream. Before Munday and other writers like John Major Robin Hood was more relatable to the peasants culture because he was a yeoman farmer that was cast out of society and began to fight against the oppressors of the commoners. This is evident when “…a late legend marries Robin Hood to the daughter of Jack Cade who led a revolt of the commons in Kent during 1450.”  While Munday may have solidified the myth that Robin Hood was a nobleman to appease his audiences of aristocrats. Some historians feel that turning Robin Hood into nobleman was needed to help re-establish the authority of the monarchs of England after the restoration. Historian Maurice Keen believes that Robin Hood had to become a nobleman. If Robin Hood was to truly lead a group of peasants in an uprising he would need to be a nobleman because a peasant would be incapable of leading other peasants in revolt.

The year nineteen ninety-three in which Robin Hood Men in Tights movie came out, America was greatly impacted by cultural and political changes along with economic problems. By nineteen ninety-two America had made a major change in its political leaders. One of the reasons for a change of leadership was reflective of some mainstream unpopular opinion of the Iraqi war. Mel Brooks attacks Bill Clinton war record when he has Robin Hood make the comment “…my father couldn’t get me into the National Guard” to the Sherriff of Nottingham.Mel Brooks also makes light of new military technology, when Robin loses the archery tournament he is allowed one more shot and decided to uses a heat seeking missile arrow to win the tournament. These and other scenes in the movie argue the idea that art is a reflection of the society it is created in. The Robin Hood myth is more than an idea of redistribution of wealth it is about a change in government control which was a very important subject in America at the time the Robin Hood Men in Tights movie came out. Another reason for political change in America came about because of economic problems.

Economically America was suffering from a recession and was the perfect time to create a movie that dealt with the idea of a redistribution of wealth. Brooks acknowledges the fact that Robin Hood originally did not rob from the rich and give to the poor, but stills mentions Robin Hood as a thief that gives to the poor in his movie. With economic trends in nineties, a movie about the poor stealing money from the rich would have been a very popular idea. But Brooks decided to stay close to the earlier Robin Hood sources like A lytell Gest of Robin Hood where “…Robin does not give what he Acquires to the poor…”

Culturally sports play an important role in American society and Mel Brooks inserted two major sports contribution to American culture in Robin Hood: Men in Tights that reflected sports fads of the early nineties with the Tomahawk Chop and the Wave. The use chants and celebratory actions in sports, is common in America and Brooks capitalizes on the two major trends in sports during the early Nineties. The crowd of Robin Hood fans at the archery contest used the Tomahawk chop and the Wave, which our two distinctly American traditions. The Tomahawk chop was used by Atlanta Braves baseball fans during the height of Atlanta Braves domination in National League baseball in the early nineties. The Wave another American creation was also used by Brooks during the archery contest. The Wave was created by a professional Cheerleader during an Oakland Athletics game. By Mel Brooks’ using the Tomahawk Chop and The Wave he was trying to take the English myth Robin Hood and connect it in someway to America.

Famous American outlaws heroes are very unlikable violent criminals like Billy the Kid or Jesse James. What Mel Brooks did in his Film Robin Hood Men in Tights was to take a distinctly British outlaw hero like Robin Hood, and Americanize his legend to coincide with the current  political, economical, and cultural trends affecting America at the time. By the Robin Hood myth fulfilling most of the defining characteristics of what makes an outlaw hero, Robin Hood becomes a universal social bandit that is acceptable for most classes in society. The poor he protects, the rich who he represents with his nobility and the oppressed that he leads. The myth of Robin Hood has continued with Mel Brook’s Robin Hood: Men in Thighs but with an American flare.


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Fight over Colorado Civil Rights Division

Masterpiece Cake Shop

On Tuesday, February 13th there was a rally to save the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The atmosphere was described by Rep. Paul Rosenthal on Facebook as “Amazing energy and a big crowd at the rally to protest Republican efforts to kill the Civil Rights Commission and Division.” Many state legislators, elected officials, community activists, and ordinary citizens, where all in attendance in attempts to have their respective voices heard.   I personally believe from a bi-partisan view, that the dismantling of the Colorado Civil Rights Division could be setting the stage for a bigger civil rights fight in this nation. According to the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) website, the CCRD is charged with enforcing Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations.

The pro CCRD rally occurred in response to a February 9th joint budget Committee threat to end the CCRD governmental entity. The committee voted to stop the funding for CCRD. Republican Sen. Ken Lambert who sits on the Joint Budget Committee told CBS Denver “They wanted to basically pick a fight on this right now, make a political statement that there might be some sort of crisis to worry people of Colorado that something is being defunded — and it’s not,” later in the legislative session lawmakers will be voting to renew the commission’s existence. I believe that the overlying fear is not based on the initial defunding with a promise to vote on a renewed existence, but a fear of those citizens who will suffer waiting for the commission to be renewed.

Some Democratic pundits are saying that the reason Republicans are standing in the way of funding for the CCRD is because of the Masterpiece Cake-shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case. If you do not remember the Masterpiece Cake-shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case to sum it up for brevity sake; in 2012 a gay couple wanted Masterpiece Cake-shop of Lakewood to make their wedding cake but the couple was denied services because the owner of Masterpiece Cake-Shop claimed couple’s marriage was at conflict with their religious beliefs. To this date, Colorado Court of Appeals sided with the couple and not the bakery’s owner. The case is currently waiting for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the lower courts decision.

Both of these arguments while with some merit behind both of them if a person were to base societal conflicts on a black and white prospectus will only lead to more significant fights down the road that could determine our civil rights paradigm for years to come. The argument is going to be centered on the First Amendment that’s states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.” Or Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 that states “Prohibits any agency, department, or official of the United States or any State (the government) from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except that the government may burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person.” Essentially in the United States of America every citizen has the right to do what they please as long as it does not affect the rights of others. The problem is sometimes this cannot be avoided, therefore societal paradigms determine this paradoxes.

I believe I know how the Supreme Court will rule and I can see both sides of each argument. How can anyone be-forced to deliver a service that they believe will jeopardize their faith? However how can an individual use their faith as a reason to discriminate? How can we discriminate against someone intolerance or defend someone’s intolerance. Either way, both arguments in my opinion are slippery slopes towards a shift in American societal moors. I have had this conversation with a few different people and heard different views on the subject, and I have yet to hear two of the same.

As for myself, I am going to continue to be accepting of people with different views of my own religious beliefs. I belong to a church that prides its self on being a hospital for the sick and not a museum of the righteous. We believe that faith should bring together under the teachings of Christ not tear apart. Religion is entirely internal, and the lessons you learn from teaching should make you a better person to everyone. I am going to keep on loving others even if I believe they are wrong, and I will grow from that love. I guess what I am trying to say is let’s try to accept people for who they are because no one is perfect and never will be.

Youthful Exuberance

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Last week the radio exposed me to Dion Diamond, and the title of the segment was The Civil Rights Activist Whose Name You’ve Probably Never Heard. Dion an African-American would go to restaurants and would sit at the “whites only” counter. In the segment Dion went on to say. “I’ve done some crazy things, but you take chances when you’re young. I call it youthful exuberance.” While contemplating this story on my commute to work, I began to think to myself, “Dion Diamond is a man’s name I never heard of, he risked his life by not only by standing up for what he believed in but for (the often misunderstood need) for social justice in a society blind to his cultural blight. Dion was arrested on various occasions for something he and others suffered from and that I will never experience; social injustice.
On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I wanted to honor the great man and do something much like Dion Diamond did and stand up for something I also believe and heave a metaphorical brick at intolerance and ignorance. Racism is still somehow prevalent and obviously abundant in our society, only year after United States of America’s first African-American president served his two consecutive terms. This encroaching darkness of ignorance is no longer symbolized by uninformed individuals who blame others for their own problems that they have created, this gelatinous blob of intolerance is now encase not only our society by our highest realm of governance as can be read in a recent article from the Washington post Trump: Why allow immigrants from ‘shithole countries.’
A guiding principle for myself and I would bet most Americans is who am I to judge or to think less of anyone based on race, religion or creed. I know that individuals have different faiths than my own, I understand others have different values then I do and, it is impossible to see how hard life has been for them. I do not know why The President of these United States called any country or any person a derogatory remark. Just because you do not understand the culture, you do not have right to think any less of it. I do not need to turn to the immortal words of Doctor King himself but my own Christian teachings in church. We judge a man based on his character not because of his lack of social and economic status. I would like to remind President Trump that if he were a true Christian like he constantly reminds people of that “by the grace of God go we.” He is no better than anyone else and we all together equally fall short of the perfection of Jesus Christ. Simply put Mister Trump showing contempt for your brother is not a tenant of the Christian faith or in that fact any faith of the world.
Another slap in the face to our founding fathers and us as Americans is the sentiment of preferring immigrants from specific countries. I was educated recently of the racial injustices often forgotten about of the Irish and Italians simply because they were not the same type of “white.” In our Declaration of Independence, it states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” How can President of the United States merely disregard the values of our country that we hold in such great esteem, so much so even that it was in the letter our founding fathers sent to Great Britain to state our independence! How can this wholly be ignored? No let me rephrase this questions how can WE allow this to be ignored! This country is made of immigrants not all of them came from desirable nations and they still make this country great. Most I believe even make our country better.
On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I believe it is time to read or re-read the speech that arguably changed our country for the better. I Have a Dream Speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King at the “March on Washington is a piece of literature that everyone should know. Hopefully, his speech will remind us that President Trump is only one man and his views are not a representation of the rest of us and our youthful exuberant country.

Trip to New York

Luke Engelhaupt at Rockefeller Center

Everyone that has been to New York City knows that there is so much to see and no way to see it all. After the first hour of walking around the big apple, I noticed that all the sights are human-made. Being from Colorado and one who enjoys my mountains and open spaces only seeing human-made buildings and statues didn’t seem to have the same majestic appeal form me. I started to notice the people. Continue reading “Trip to New York”

Ballot Issue 3M

Oxford Hotel

Dear people of Logan County,

My time on the RE-1 Valley Board of Education was not easy. I was tasked with finding solutions to problem such as: some students who didn’t know where their next meal would be coming from unless it was provided for them by their school; or how single-parent teachers would be able to qualify for food stamps because of how little they were paid; also during my four year tenure we experienced declining enrollment, as our budget was cut by nearly $5 million. Times were tough, and for the majority of us in our own personal lives we have to work overtime every week just to stay caught up on our own bills, but times of been much more onerous for the RE-1 Valley School District.

Going to a four day school week, as well as still being substantially behind the state average for teacher pay, while making cuts to the transportation department, are some of the most significant reductions that come to mind. I know this does not affect the majority of Logan County, but for the individuals, it does affect this is life altering especially for the children of the school district. When I was on the Board of Education and sat on the task force to consider the four day school week I knew it would certainly happen with time. I knew teachers could never come close to the pay they deserved and the transportation problems would continue the same as it was when I attended school. I know that more significant cuts are just around the corner if these problems are not solved. Closing schools, larger class sizes, and less extracurricular activities at the high school such as FFA, sports programs, and club activities which help keep are children out of trouble while developing the skills they need for the future could be cut to solve the future declines in revenue. Now the Mill Levy that is proposed will not solve all the school districts problems but it will help. We cannot see it as just another financial burden on ourselves, but as an investment in our children. Our children should have the same opportunities as we did which is why we have to give them the tools they need for their future, not only for their sake but for the sake of our community.

Like it or not the reality is that every one of us is responsible for the kids of RE-1 Valley and they are the future of our community. Most parents want a better life for their kids than they had themselves.  My father worked the same job for 38 years to provide for his family, and I am grateful for him because he always worked to put me and my future first. On a house valued at $110,000, this Mill Levy will add an $87 dollar tax a year, and that is less than a quarter a day, which will provide our children with the educational opportunities they deserve and help with the problems plaguing the school district. Wanting our school to be more efficient with the same tax dollars is not probable, as inflation and cost of living goes up so does the financial responsibilities of a school district. What I am trying to say is that the same dollar five years ago does not stretch like it did before. Trust me this is as efficient as it is going to get, and it is time to be parents to all of our students of RE-1 Valley and give them a better life than we had when we were in school. Do the right thing and vote yes on ballot issue 3M and put the future of your community first.