I would not have expected mysterious veteran commenter Extradimensional Cephalopod to be the one to score a Comment of the Day regarding the idiotic and offensive “trigger warning” HBO Max felt it had to append to “Blazing Saddles.” Mel Brooks’ satire (and fart jokes) would not seem to the kind of thing a squid from another plane of existence would be able to appreciate. Shows what I know.
But seriously folks, this is the first ethical analysis of “Blazing Saddles” I’ve ever seen, heard, or imagined. And as usual with EC, it is thoughtful and enlightening.
Here is Extradimensional Cephalopod ‘s Comment of the Day on hate, contempt, and the post, “HBO Max Adds A Disclaimer For Morons Onto ‘Blazing Saddles’”:
On the one hand, I agree with the people ridiculing the disclaimer. On the other hand, if it gets more people to watch the film and learn to appreciate satire, I’m in favor of a little message at the beginning that says, “It’s okay, you’re not a bad person for watching this film.” I’d like to get to the point where we don’t need the disclaimer, though.
When you mention hate and contempt, it makes me realize that most of what people refer to as “hate” is actually contempt, and that sloppy language prevents them from realizing what they want and what they need to do to get it. People don’t just want to eliminate “hate”—they want to be respected.
The tricky thing about respect is that people can’t simply demand it even if they deserve it. Sheriff Bart knew that, so he just did his job to the best of his ability despite the contempt Rock Ridge had for him, and he earned their respect by saving them and their town.
Obviously, saving people’s lives should not be necessary for earning their respect, but my point is that Bart showed he cared about the people of Rock Ridge and had the courage and competence to help them out and succeed where they despaired. That’s also how he ended up winning over his allies in the film:
He showed compassion to the alcoholic ex-gunfighter Jim and beat him at chess. He spoke with femme fatale singer Lili in her native language and managed to… sweep her off her feet even with her jaded attitude towards men and sex. He offered the brutish brawler Mongo candy and delivered him defeat (in the same action, no less) and released him from jail with no hard feelings.
He’s classy, considerate, cunning, and capable. When did it go out of fashion to be like Sheriff Bart?
It seems like people don’t partake of educational fiction anymore, or don’t learn anything from it, or fail to apply the lessons where they’re needed most.
Granted, it’s quite difficult and costly for people who are in a bad situation and under enormous stress through no fault of their own to show such magnanimity to the world with no guarantee of a reward, and arguably even unfair for them to have to. If we equip them with empathy mindset and a solid competence at something, though, a little can go a long way.