Legendary comedy director Mel Brooks says his classic Western spoof Blazing Saddles would never get made today because of the “stupidly politically correct” climate of today's society. Brooks, of course, is the godfather of irreverent film comedy, lampooning everything from Nazis in two versions of The Producers and a movie monster legend in Young Frankenstein, to history itself in History of The World Part 1 and Star Wars with Spaceballs.
But perhaps none of his films cut to the funny bone and frayed as many raw nerves than his 1974 comedy masterpiece Blazing Saddles, where a black sheriff (Cleavon Little) fends off racism in small Western town with the help of a recovering alcoholic gunfighter (Gene Wilder). Also starring Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Slim Pickens and Alex Karras ("Mongo only pawn in game of life," he famously deadpanned), the biting satire boldly steps over the line with its shocking dialogue, which, among other things, includes several racial slurs aimed at Little's character.
In a new interview with BBC Radio 4 (via Variety), Brooks was asked which of his films could be made today. Brooks says "maybe a few" including Young Frankenstein, but he decisively stopped short of Blazing Saddles. He said:
"Never Blazing Saddles, because we have become stupidly politically correct, which is the death of comedy. It’s okay not to hurt feelings of various tribes and groups. However, it’s not good for comedy. Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering into the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behavior.”
While Brooks made it clear in the interview that he's fed up with the "PC culture," the Jewish filmmaker and theatrical producer of The Producers (whose titular characters shockingly staged the musical Springtime for Hitler) said there are lines that he simply won't cross. He says:
“I personally would never touch gas chambers or the death of children or Jews at the hands of the Nazis. Everything else is okay.”
Preparing for the opening in three weeks of the stage version of Young Frankenstein on London's West End, Brooks seems to be content with adapting his films for the theater crowd. Brooks clearly found success on stage before, with the musical version of 1967's The Producers re-crafted for Broadway in 2001 (only for the musical to be adapted into a new film in 2005 with its Broadway stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick), so his work is as relevant today as it ever has been.
Source: BBC Radio 4 (via Variety)