Last week we lost a true comedic legend in Gene Wilder. In my tribute blog, I mentioned one of his classic films, Blazing Saddles, which reminded me that I needed to come up with a movie that they couldn’t make today segment.
What it was about
Blazing Saddles was a comedy released in 1974, which starred Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder as Sherriff Bart and the Waco Kid respectively. The film set out to attack racism as a parody of old west films the director Mel Brooks grew up with and adored. It’s a classic comedy that has stood the test of time despite being very much of its time. I say that because when the writers were working on it their only edict was, ‘Write 1874 as if it were 1974’. It has continued to be one of my top ten favorite comedies of all time and I highly recommend it to anyone with a sense of humor, which to be honest, if you hang around this blog you probably already have. And just in case you find the film unfunny for tackling race issues, look at it this way, the only people that use ‘that word’ are ignorant white assholes and the only cast member with any sense and actually gets shit done is an African American assisted by a Jewish Broadway star.
And if that doesn’t calm your nerves, this is a movie that features a minute-long fart scene. So don’t take it too seriously.
Why it can’t be made today
Blazing Saddles came out at a very different time in America. The Civil Rights movement was in the not too distant history books. Women stopped burning dinner and started burning bras (I’m not making a sexist statement. I just thought it was a cool analogy). Mel Brooks was given carte blanche to a script entitled Blazing Saddles, so naturally the first thing he did was throw it out and start fresh. Granted he brought the original writer in with his team along with Richard Pryor. At the time, Pryor was an unknown by film standards, but Mel Brooks brought him on, with the intention to star in the picture. Pryor however proved to be unreliable so his star would have to wait but not before adding his flare for writing. Ironically, Pryor who was known for his brand of tackling race in his stand up acts, was focused primarily on writing the ‘Mongo’ character.
The movie couldn’t be made today BECAUSE of the fact that it tackles racial issues. Simply check any news outlet today and you will find at least five stories involving racial discrimination. One could argue that perhaps now is the time for such a movie to be made so that the lines of communication could be open and we could start mending fences. However, we live in a day and age of ‘victims’. Everyone who disagrees with anyone else’s opinions assumes that a difference of opinion is an attack on one’s beliefs. If Blazing Saddles were made today, it would simply be taken out of context like every event that happens on a given day.
The inevitable remake
No one is busting down the door to remake Blazing Saddles at this time so I think we’re safe for now. I’d say that Hollywood is steering clear of Academy Award winners (hey best song still counts), but this year alone we got a remake of Ben Hur and the Magnificent Seven. In all likely hood they are avoiding it like the plague because of the reasons I mentioned but who’s to say. If they absolutely have to remake it, perhaps focus on the annexation of Texas. There has to be a Trump/Wall joke in there somewhere.
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