Whoopi Goldberg Says 'Blazing Saddles' Absolutely Could Be Made Today - Can This Conversation Be Over Now?
Following the confounding declaration from The Office’s Mindy Kaling that the most-watched show of 2020 couldn’t possibly succeed in 2022, The View’s Whoopi Goldberg has reopened one of the oldest cases in “could you do it now?” history by proclaiming that Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks’ 1974 comedy masterpiece about cowboys and Klansmen, could absolutely be made in the modern era.
In the wake of Kaling’s comments, Goldberg and the rest of the View crew felt the need to address one of the most tired debates in comedy – can boundary-pushing humor survive in today’s politically correct, culturally sensitive climate? The EGOT winner’s answer is a resounding “F— yeah!” – as long as it’s funny.
“Listen – it deals with racism by coming at it right, straight, upfront,” Goldberg said of the classic satire that was certainly not shy in its portrayal of violent, vitriolic racism against black Americans. The trick to Brooks’ success in dealing with prejudice, as Goldberg says, was his way of “making you think and laugh about it,” clarifying that the target of the incisive comedy was “not just racism but all the -isms.”
In Goldberg’s eyes, the reason that Blazing Saddles could be made today is, simply, Blazing Saddles was funny. Said Goldberg, “Blazing Saddles, because it’s a great comedy, would still go over today. There are a lot of comedy’s out there that are not good, we’re just gonna say that. (Blazing Saddles) is not one of them.” Goldberg called the film “one of the greatest (comedies) because it hits everybody.”
Goldberg’s comments contradict what the film’s writer and director has said about how Blazing Saddles would be received by a modern audience – Brooks has said that he doesn’t believe the comedy would be received as warmly in modern times, though he noted that, "Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. It's the lecherous little elf whispering in the king's ear, telling the truth about human behavior."
The secret to walking that tightrope and creating a controversial comedy that can stand the test of time has always been to bring a level of intelligence and empathy that reflects the seriousness of the subject matter – and, of course, to always be more funny than offensive. Blazing Saddles, for all of its silliness and slapstick, betrays Brooks’ deep understanding of prejudice and his powerful point of view that can make light of even the gravest of situations. Goldberg understands the potency of viewing bigotry through the lens of cutting satire, and she posits that, even in 2022, Brooks’ riff on racism would resonate with a wide audience, whether he believes it or not.
Sadly, Goldberg’s measured and grounded take on the humorless hypothetical of “which comedy could be made today” will not end the conversation – not as long as comedians like David Zuckers and Marlon Wayans continue to blame the ending of their heydays on the ever-nebulous “cancel culture.” However, it’s refreshing to hear a veteran comic contradict the mindless narrative that boundary-pushing humor has no place in the modern world.
Goldberg also took time on The View to pay tribute to her favorite scene in the film – unsurprisingly, a comedian who is named after a fart loves the beans scene.