The premium-tier streamer throws a trigger warning on Mel Brooks’ irreverent Western satire.
It appears even satire is going to be subject to the racist disclaimer treatment on HBO Max.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the premium-tier streamer has slapped Mel Brooks’s iconic Western satire, Blazing Saddles, with an opening disclaimer for the film’s explicit and intentional use of racist tropes and language. Not unlike its recent contextual heading on Gone With The Wind, the disclaimer is handled by the University of Chicago’s Cinema and Media Studies professor, Jacqueline Stewart, who also hosts TMC’s Silent Sunday Nights.
“This movie is an overt and audacious spoof on classic Westerns. It’s as provocative today as it was when it premiered back in 1974,” Stewart says in the opener. She adds, “As the storyline implies the issue of race is front and center in Blazing Saddles. And racist language and attitudes pervade the film. But those attitudes are espoused by characters who are portrayed here as explicitly small-minded, ignorant bigots. The real, and much more enlightened perspective, is provided by the main characters played by Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder.”
Stewart also provides some liner notes on the film, explaining how the late Richard Pryor was initially offered the role of Sherrif Bart, but was passed on by the studio for his notoriously raunchy stand-up material and well-known substance abuse issues. The role, opposite Gene Wilder’s perpetually inebriated “Waco Kid,” was eventually taken by Cleavon Little. However, Pryor remained an integral part of the film’s writing and production. He appears in the credits as a screenwriter, but also served as a consultant for some of its edgier punchlines.
At the moment, Blazing Saddles and Gone With The Wind are the only films on HBO to get hit with the historical context disclaimer. But it seems safe to expect this to become commonplace practice across the streaming landscape in the months ahead.