HBO Max has added a disclaimer that will automatically play before any viewing of the 1974 classic comedy film Blazing Saddles. The satirical Western is typical of madcap comedian and film director Mel Brooks, in that Blazing Saddles swings wildly, broadly, and has been long understood by critics to not shy away from potentially offensive content in pursuit of making a laugh and also a point.
Similar to the additions HBO Max made to Gone With the Wind earlier this summer, the new three-minute disclaimer preceding Blazing Saddles features Turner Classic Movies host Jacqueline Stewart “ensur[ing] the film was put into the proper social context,” according to a comment provided to The Hollywood Reporter.
Blazing Saddles’ racist language and bigotry is put into stronger context for viewers. Stewart, in the new intro, explains: “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.”
The introduction also provides further insights into behind-the-scenes information about the film, including how Richard Pryor was considered for the role of the sheriff, but distributor Warner Bros. felt the comedian’s controversial stand-up and history with drugs made him unsuitable for casting.
This is the latest in a number of moves this summer by TV networks and streaming services to course-correct for previous releases featuring racist elements or portrayals. The Office, Community, Scrubs, 30 Rock, and many others are just a handful of recent examples of shows setting a new trend in entertainment.
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