Blazing Saddles: Race question....

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John CW, Apr 14, 2002.

  1. John CW

    John CW Supporting Actor

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    I know this film wasn't intended as being rascist: Richard Pryor co-wrote it, everyone who is rascist in the film is portrayed as being an idiot etc. But I was wondering if anyone who was black might find it offensive.

    Obviously there will always be a mixed response, but I was wondering how someone might take it. My friend is only 18 and is one of the few black people around where I live. I don't know him well enough to confont him face to face, but I don't want him to feel uncomfortable. Should I show him this excellent film or will is it possible he would be made to feel uncomfortable or even offended by it?

    To give you an example, I accidentally lent him my copy of Reservoir Dogs on DVD completely forgetting about that awful Tarantino rascist diatribe that happens in it.

    Sure Tarantino isn't rascist (according to Sam Jackson at least), the movie almost certainly didn't set out to be rascist, but I can certainly understand my friend feeling uncomfortable when that scene came on! Especially when so many people I know consider the film to be a classic! Obviously I don't think the guys in the film are "cool" when they're talking like that, I just hope he knows that.

    Anyways... any advice from more film-literate black folks would be appreciated.

    Is this film generally regarded as offensive (intentionally or not)?

    Thanks,

    ~ John

    PS - Any white Mel Brooks fans wanted to jump in and scream "this film isn't rascist" please don't. I know it isn't, I'm asking for another perspective. Cheers.
     
  2. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    I'm an Asian Mel Brooks fan, can I speak? [​IMG]
    Seriously, it all depends on how well you know your friend. Watch how he reacts to something remotely rascist. If he's not at all offended and is even a little good humored about it (I don't know how many times I was considered a stereotype in school thanks to Full Metal Jacket and CNN news), he won't mind Blazing Saddles. As a matter of fact, I think he'll like Sheriff Bart.
     
  3. Duane Robinson

    Duane Robinson Second Unit

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    I'm black and I love Mel Brooks' films. I friggin love this movie and I don't see it as being racist. Actually I see it as making fun of racism and racist people. The racists in the movie as you said are raging idiots and the film has a black hero who calmly deals with the stupidity and ignorance of the people around him. There are no negative stereotypical portrayals of minorities in this movie except for the protrayal of homosexuals in the last part of the film. But I doubt most people would find it offensive since it wasn't mean-spirited and was only a short scene. Plus the movie is funny as hell so unless someone is overly sensitive or has no sense of humor then they might be offended but it's kinda hard for me to see that.
     
  4. BarryR

    BarryR Supporting Actor

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    "Political Correctness is the death of humor" -- Mel Brooks.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Moving this to the Movies forum.
     
  6. rutger_s

    rutger_s Supporting Actor

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    Mel Brooks is a non-discriminating comedian. He pokes fun at everybody. He even makes jokes about HIS religion...

    Check out all the jokes about Jews in his films.

    From History of The World Part I(Jews In Space) to Robin Hood: Men In Tights(Friar Tuckman).

    Mel Brooks is one of the last remaining artists in Hollywood who is not afraid to pull punches. Which is why I am a fan of his films.
     
  7. Matthew_Millheiser

    Matthew_Millheiser Supporting Actor

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    Blazing Saddles is about as racist as Hucklerry Finn.

    Make of that what you will...

    BTW this is from a mixed-race [black, white, hispanic] film fan, does that count?
     
  8. Mike Franklin

    Mike Franklin Stunt Coordinator

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  9. Richard Harvey

    Richard Harvey Stunt Coordinator

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    The biggest shame is that a movie like Blazing Saddles wouldn't even get 5 seconds of consideration at a major studio today.

    Rich
     
  10. Dennis Heller

    Dennis Heller Second Unit

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    Mel Brooks skewers every group in Blazing Saddles. As someone else said, it depends on how well you know your friend.

    FWIW, there was a film class in my college with an African-American professor, and a semester never went by that he didn't show Blazing Saddles.
     
  11. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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  12. Mark Bendiksen

    Mark Bendiksen Screenwriter

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  13. Brett Hancock

    Brett Hancock Supporting Actor

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  14. Ben Motley

    Ben Motley Supporting Actor

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    Every black guy I've asked about Blazing Saddles has told me he loved it. Sure does paint an odd picture for the PC phenomenon. I'll tell you one thing, Blazing Saddles would never get made today.
     
  15. Matthew_Millheiser

    Matthew_Millheiser Supporting Actor

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    I 110% stand by the notion that Huckleberry Finn is NOT racist, and it in fact should be taught as early as Junior High (when I first read it).
    Does it contain the racist morales of the era? Absolutely. No question.
    But ask yourselves this: Who is portrayed as the most noble, human, and compassionate character in the book? Which elements of society are skewered by Twain?
    EVERYONE should read Huckleberry Finn. If we had any decent education system in this country, every student would be made to understand exactly what Twain was trying to say, and why it needed to be said. Teaching goes beyond looking at the words being said -- it means looking at the MEANING and the MESSAGE.
    If the Topeka Public School System can't teach a room full of white students that what they are reading is a scathing indictment of mid-19th century idiocy, then the problem is with the school's lesson plan -- NOT WITH THE LITERATURE!!!
    There is nothing racist in that novel. NOTHING. Yet the dumbing down of America continues...
    As far as Blazing Saddles is concerned, that film is one of the funniest ever made (IMHO the funniest) and is similar to Twain's novel in that it takes the racist attitudes of the era and exploits them to ridicule those that espouse them.
    It's a shame that people cannot read beyond the printed letter to see the real meaning and the real message being presented to them.
     
  16. Scott Leopold

    Scott Leopold Supporting Actor

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    I think one of the great things about Blazing Saddles is that it picks on everyone equally. I think that if it had been handled any differently, it could have been perceived as a very racist movie. As it is, though, it's perfect.

    I was lucky enough to get to see this on the big screen several years back at a local, second-run theater (that's sadly now defunct). The audience was split pretty evenly, about half white and half black. I was literally the only white person in the theater who was laughing. Everyone else was so uneasy about offending the blacks in the audience that they didn't want to laugh at any of the "racist" jokes--which they apparently assumed to mean all the jokes in the movie. A friend of mine was sitting in front of me and threated to "kill me before they did" if I didn't shut up. I tried to point out that every non-white member of the audience was laughing hysterically at the movie, but this is something that was somehow overlooked by everyone. In the end, I felt sorry for everyone who couldn't fully enjoy the movie, but was glad that at least half of us had a good time.
     
  17. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    I agree that neither Hucklberry Finn nor Blazing Saddles promote racism; I guess a lot of people really do have a hard time understanding satire. That's the only reason I can think of that Huck Finn is challenged in so many school districts.
    I think high school is a good time to read Huck. That's when I read it, and our teacher taught it in such a way that I completely understood its points. It's always baffled me that so many supposedly educated people can't see that it is skewering, not enforcing, racist attitudes, among others, in the 19th century.
    My roommate in college was black, and he loved both Huck Finn and Blazing Saddles. He completely understood what each dealt with, and found them both to be very funny.
    By the way, for younger viewers, I recommend Disney's 1993 movie version of Huck Finn with Elijah Wood. Of course, it's no match for the book, but it might be a good way to introduce kids (and perhaps adults) to the story. It is somewhat santized and simplified, but not as much as you might expect. I think it's actually closer in tone to the book than most other movie versions.
    Good discussion, folks! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  18. John CW

    John CW Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the intelligent debate over this issue everyone! I think I see the film in a different (even better) light now. I'm not sure how sensitive my friend is, he may be made too uncomfortable from the first occurance of the N word before the film shows what's really going on.
    Still if he asks about it I think I'll tell him what it's about, I think it'll probably spark his interest whilst giving him a warning. I'm sure he'll love the movie if he's prepared for it.
    Thanks again,
    ~ John
    PS - I think you're all right: This film wouldn't get made now unless it had a very famous black star writing and starring in it! [​IMG] I don't think PC is the death of comedy as the film doesn't insult the "PC" groups. If the film was truly rascist then it wouldn't be "PC" - something that I think is misunderstood.
     
  19. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I have several African American friends who don't find this racist at all, in fact they find the movie very funny.

    BTW, it felt weird when I typed the phrase "African American friends". Because I don't think of them as that. They're just my friends.
     
  20. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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