'Blazing Saddles' at 45: The Movie That Couldn't Get Made Today
One of the greatest comedies in the history of cinema is celebrating a birthday:
The Hollywood Reporter celebrated the occasion by republishing its original review of Blazing Saddles. Here is an excerpt:
The screenplay by Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor and Alan Uger (from a story by Bergman) is totally irreverent, never passing up a chance to point up a cliche and sparing nothing or no one along the way. The language is definitely R-rated but it never becomes offensive. In fact, the incongruous pairing of the language and the characters accounts for a great deal of the boisterous humor.
Brooks' fast-paced direction is a masterpiece of comedy detail, filled with delightful and perfectly timed sight gags. The predominant style is one of the extremely broad burlesque but the film is also packed with more subtle touches, especially in Morey Hoffman's clever set decoration and in Peter Wooley's production design.
The line about "sparing nothing or no one along the way" is key. Blazing Saddles seems to send up almost everything. And it does it brilliantly. The humor employed is filled with what today would be known as triggers for the emotionally weak, politically correct, Social Justice Warrior crowd.
Ethnic jokes abound. There is enough juvenile sexual humor to keep a thousand generations of pubescent boys entertained. The movie also has the most memorable fart joke scene ever.
Throughout, the what would now be taboo humor is used to lampoon racism, politicians, entertainers, and too many more things to remember offhand. It is brilliantly done, but only if one is from an era when the majority of the population wasn't perpetually seeking to be aggrieved.
There probably isn't a scene in Blazing Saddles that wouldn't grievously offend the modern snowflake. The SJWs will tell you that's because we've (they've) evolved, and they would be wrong.
When everything is offensive, nothing is offensive. That has a double meaning that applies to both sides here. It is difficult to take the present-day SJWs seriously when they complain, because they complain about virtually everything. What Brooks and Co. did is make sure that they offended everyone, which made it funny.
When everything is offensive, nothing is offensive.
It's almost sickening to think of the fact that we've gone from a society capable of creating and supporting something as masterful as Blazing Saddles to one filled with humorless youth who would protest it to death before it could get released in just forty-five years.
A humorless society that seeks to make words criminally offensive is a society in severe decline. Hopefully, we're just in a phase from which we'll soon emerge.
Should we be that lucky, maybe movie comedies will one day again be funny.