'Blazing Saddles' now has intro on HBO Max to put it 'into the proper social context'

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·2 min read
Gene Wilder puts his arm around the shoulder of Cleavon Little in a still from the 1974 film 'Blazing Saddles'. (Photo by Warner Bros/Courtesy of Getty Images)
Gene Wilder puts his arm around the shoulder of Cleavon Little in a still from the 1974 film 'Blazing Saddles'. (Photo by Warner Bros/Courtesy of Getty Images)

Streaming service HBO Max has added a new introduction to Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles in order to put the film “into the proper social context”.

Viewers who stream the 1970s classic will be greeted by a three-minute intro from cinema professor Jacqueline Stewart, discussing the portrayal of racism in the movie.

Read more: Mel Brooks reveals very rude joke cut from Blazing Saddles

The raucous comedy is a satire on American racism, depicting the bond between Cleavon Little’s black sheriff and an alcoholic gunslinger portrayed by Gene Wilder.

“Racist language and attitudes pervade the film,” says Stewart in the clip.

Blazing Saddles, lobbycard, right: Cleavon Little, 1974. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)
Blazing Saddles, lobbycard, right: Cleavon Little, 1974. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)

“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.”

Read more: Critics suggest anti-racism films to watch

The new introduction is similar to one, also presented by Stewart, added by HBO Max to the 1939 movie Gone With the Wind, which was removed from the service in June.

It was returned to the streamer two weeks later with the new introduction, which contextualises and discusses the movie’s depiction of the South and slavery.

Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel in a still from the film 'Gone with the Wind'. (Photo by MGM Studios/Getty Images)
Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel in a still from the film 'Gone with the Wind'. (Photo by MGM Studios/Getty Images)

Referring to Blazing Saddles, a spokeswoman for HBO told The Hollywood Reporter: “The intro was added to ensure that the film was put into the proper social context.”

The discussion of context for films featuring depictions of racism arose earlier this year in the wake of high-profile Black Lives Matter protests all over the world.

Read more: University to remove John Wayne exhibit due to racist comments

Numerous TV shows that included characters wearing blackface — including Little Britain, 30 Rock and Community — were removed from streaming services, either in full or by episode.

Disney has deployed content notices on its own streaming service since it launched, warning viewers about “outdated cultural depictions” in movies like Dumbo and The Aristocats.