No, ‘Blazing Saddles’ Doesn’t Come With a ‘Trigger Warning’
Mel Brooks’ landmark 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles turns 50 today, meaning that it’s been five whole decades since it first premiered to an audience of mostly horses. In 2024, it’s tough to uncouple the movie from the heated discourse around its place in modern pop culture, namely thanks to the dead horse of an argument that Blazing Saddles “couldn’t be made today” due to its pervasive racist language. Not to mention, the conspiracy theory that the radical left is somehow trying to censor Brooks’ film. Although, to be fair, the radical left did succeed in turning it into a children’s movie about a doggy Samurai.
Now, on its golden jubilee anniversary, a lot of people are revisiting Blazing Saddles on streaming, and some folks are outraged to find that it is currently preceded by a “trigger warning” on Max. Or as one outlet put it, “Cancel culture finally comes for Mel Brooks' blistering satire on racism.”
First of all, the three-minute video introduction by film professor and Turner Classic Movies host Jacqueline Stewart came out back in 2020. So complaining about this now is about as fresh as getting riled up by that Gal Gadot “Imagine” video. Professor Stewart’s intro mostly just provides some basic historical context for the movie, like on most TCM broadcasts, and notes that it’s widely considered to be “one of the greatest comedies of all time.” Cancel culture strikes again!
Much of the talk actually deflates any potential criticisms of the film, pointing out that Blazing Saddles is, at its core, a Western spoof, and the “racist language and attitudes” are exclusively vocalized only by characters who are “narrow-minded ignorant bigots.” She goes on to note that the film itself has a more “enlightened perspective,” a viewpoint represented by the two lead characters. Stewart also highlights how co-writer Richard Pryor’s boundary-pushing style blended well with Brooks’ “daring approach to comedy, where absolutely nothing is off-limits, and jokes can tackle any and every sensitive subject.”
So really, it’s less canceling the movie than it is doing the exact opposite. This isn’t censorship, it’s three minutes of explaining why any suggestion of censoring this particular movie is completely asinine. Some fans may still resent that the start of the movie is delayed at all, but it’s not like the Warner Bros.’ Woke Lecture Division uploaded a computer virus to infect your TV’s fast-forward button.
And really, the people who believe that the left wants to edit Blazing Saddles down to a family-friendly eight-minute short could probably use a primer on why that’s not actually the case. Like the famously humor-impaired Ted Cruz, who Tweeted in 2020: “Don’t censor Blazing Saddles”…
…while providing zero evidence that anyone, anywhere was trying to censor Blazing Saddles.
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