Twitter trend reignites controversy surrounding ‘Blazing Saddles’
Mel Brooks 1974 Western satire, Blazing Saddles, went viral today as film fans shared their fave comedies of all time. Blazing Saddles was perhaps unsurprisingly widely shared, which led many fans to discuss the film’s black comedy.
The iconic duo of Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder carries the film that satirizes whitewashed Westerns and racial prejudice. Little plays Bart, a small railroad town’s new Black sheriff, while Wiler plays the alcoholic gunslinger Jim (the “Waco Kid”). Together they fumble a plot by a politician to buy up land that’s about to be worth a lot of money when the railroad is finished.
There’s a lot going on there about race and class, which leads many to answer a question seemingly no one is asking: could you make Blazing Saddles today?
Again, no one is asking this, but it’s become a bit of a meme in how often the conversation comes up. On the one hand, some people say no because it would be problematic. And sure, despite its attempt to critique racism, it’s not unequivocally good. But Blazing Saddles is a satire, and these fans seem to forget that we were, and still are, laughing at the racists in the film.
As one fan points out, the accusation is levied by the very subjects of the film’s criticism.
Still, there are some good answers to the question of making Blazing Saddles today. “You could never make Blazing Saddles in 2021,” someone answered, “(many of the actors have passed away).”
Another offers their reasoning: “If you took that script to a studio, they’d say ‘Hey, this is the script to Blazing Saddles, get out of here.'”
And yet another relates the discourse to a larger problem—Hollywood’s aversion to original IP.
In 2006, Blazing Saddles was added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, recognizing the film as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”