Blazing Satire Essay, Research Paper
Blazing Saddles, a Mel Brooks film, is a perfect example of satire. The main object of the movie is to make fun of the western genre of films. Mel Brooks is notorious for his satires of many different films and film genres, and Blazing Saddles follows true to form as, in some opinions, one of the funniest films made. Many of the film s ideas and problems are common in most westerns, although Mel Brooks has added a twist. In addition, the movie pokes fun at a more modern theme, racism.
Many westerns contain some of the same elements. For instance, almost every western ever made involves a sheriff. He is usually the peace-keeper of a small town overrun by outlaws and cowboys, which he eventually chases out of town or kills. Another element of westerns is a gunslinger. A gunslinger is usually a young man who makes his living shooting other men in showdowns, a classic example is Billy the Kid. Railroads are also a recurring image in westerns. Since the railroad was the major mode of transportation in the old west, it is always present in westerns. Finally, westerns always have a villain. The villain, usually a man, dresses very slick and will stop at nothing in his quest for power. In addition, the villain usually has a gang to carry out his dastardly deeds. The gang is usually full of incompetent, but loyal thugs, who would love to destroy a small town just for the pleasure of wanton destruction. The elements of a western are very simple, but easily manipulated into a very interesting plot.
Blazing Saddles contains all the elements of a stereotypical western, only with a twist. Like most westerns, Blazing Saddle has a sheriff, but he is black. African-Americans usually do not have major roles in westerns. Next, he is persuaded to save a town; even though, the citizens hate him. An example of this, is when he greets an elderly woman, she replies, Up yours, nigger, which illustrates her dislike of the new black sheriff. In most westerns, the sheriff is the favored citizen everyone loves, except the outlaws. An example of this is in the film is that the townsfolk automatically remove their hats and bow their heads when someone mentions the name Randolph Scott, a favorite western sheriff. Whenever Bart, the sheriff, is mentioned the townsfolk cringe. Furthermore, the movie includes a gunslinger. He is stereotypical, except for the twist that he is old and an alcoholic, rather than a cocky young cowboy. The sheriff finds him in a jail cell, and recruits him as a sidekick. In addition, the railroad is present throughout Blazing Saddles. The sheriff starts the movie as a railroad worker, before becoming the sheriff of Rock Ridge. In addition, the villain is the head of the railroad, which motivates him to destroy the small town. He needs the land to lay more tracks, which is typical of a power hungry villain. The elements of westerns are represented in a zany way during the movie.
The villains are also poked fun at during Blazing Saddles. His name is Hedey Lamar, but everyone refers to him as Hedley, which infuriates him. Typically, villains are not made fun of, or crossed. Hedey employs a huge army of bandits ranging from cowboys, to Germans, to Middle Eastern terrorists. A parody since many of the bandits would not be able to come to the United States in the 1800 s. Furthermore, the lack of intelligence of the bandits is over-exaggerated. An example illustrating their low intelligence is when Bart, the sheriff, places a dime toll- booth in the middle of the prairie, hoping to slow them. When the army gallops to it on their way to destroy Rock Ridge, they stop and exclaim, Somebody s gotta go back and get a sh*t load of dimes! No person, in an actual western, would stop; they would simply ride around the building and carry on with business. Another example is, when the strongest thug, Mongo, comes into town, a bomb, made to look like a candy-gram is the only thing that can stop him. Just before the bomb explodes Mongo cheers, Mongo like candy! The candy-gram and the quote imply that Mongo posesses the mind of a child. The villains are the main victims of satire in Blazing Saddles.
Racism, a very serious topic, is made light of often during the movie. First, the sheriff is black. There are never any African-Americans in older westerns, especially sheriffs. Second, the word nigger is used thousands of times throughout the movie. Furthermore, during one seen, a Chinese railroad worker passes out from exhaustion. The foreman yells, Dock that chink a days pay for nappin on the job. The word chink is a derogatory name for Oriental people. Another example of the lighter side of racism occurs while the Rock Ridge citizens are trying to save their town. Bart persuades his railroad worker companions to help in return for a place to live; however, the townsfolk decline, then accept as long as no Irishmen move in. Later they reluctantly accept all the workers. Jokes of racism are evident throughout the movie.
Blazing Saddles, a western satire, makes fun of stereotypical western elements, along with racism. Mel Brooks made racism funny, although it is a very sensitive subject. The satire throughout the movie is hilarious and tasteful. Blazing Saddles is a perfect example of satire.