The whole bit about the Greek mercenaries losing their leader due to treachery is actually directly referenced in the movie, as the leader of the titular Warriors gang is framed for the murder of the super boss of another gang. This doesn't happen in the novel, where the super boss is killed via a mere murderous misunderstanding. Also, in the book, the super boss' name is Ismael, while in the movie it's, wait for it, Cyrus. As in Cyrus the Younger, who led a bunch of Greek soldiers of fortune away from their feta cheese and into Lighvan territory -- all of which has been referenced through just one name change.
It feels wrong typing it out loud, but The Warriors is, in a way, a pretty insightful lesson in how Western culture has told our stories for centuries: With a focus on underdogs overcoming impossible odds through sheer will and cunning, mixed with a healthy dose of distrust for foreigners. Yeah, sounds about right.
Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles, a comedy Western about a black man becoming sheriff of a racist frontier town, is truly one of those films that could not be made today. Not just because of its use of the N-word, but mainly because it takes a massive piss on the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Rand finalized her belief system known as Objectivism with the publication of Atlas Shrugged in 1957. The whole thing essentially boils down to the notion that if you're good at your job (especially if it has something to do with trains), then you get to be as much of an asshole as you want. And, well, doesn't that really explain the world as we know it today?
From House to Rick & Morty, we're slowly but surely pushing the idea that superhumans exist among us, and that no one, especially not the government, has the right to tell them what to do or how to act. It's a thoroughly cynical belief which a lot of people seem to have internalized nowadays, despite it going against the spirit of cooperation that made it possible for our species to survive this far. And it's this popular philosophy that's been cleverly and thoroughly skewered by Blazing Saddles.
In the movie, the villain is a guy who wants to clear out a frontier town so that a railroad can be built through it, earning him millions. Already we see a lot of similarities between the film and Atlas Shrugged, which was clearly written while Rand was touching herself with the help of a raunchy train conductor calendar. Next, the main flunky of the villain is called "Taggart," which is also the surname of the main character of Rand's capitalistic railroad porn, and already we've journeyed way beyond the realm of mere coincidence, elevating these obvious "shout-outs" to ear-splitting "scream-outs."
To seal the deal, we need to look more closely at the movie's plot, which concludes with the black sheriff stopping Taggart with a fake toll booth and convincing white, black, and Chinese people to work together for the common good. If Rand had ever seen the movie, chances are she would have furiously puked her guts out during those scenes. See, Rand believed that cooperation and working together was for sissies, and that truly great people got shit done all on their own, without any help, meaning that she probably and hopefully performed all of her own colonoscopies.
Rand also HATED government taking your money, so a character named Taggart being stopped by a toll booth operated by a government employee makes Blazing Saddles one of the biggest movie "FUCK YOUs" to cynicism -- just like another one of my favorite movies, Joyeux Noel. Yeah, I know this reference wasn't very stealthy, but when you get down to it, neither were the Atlas Shrugged digs in Blazing Saddles.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.
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