Of Course Cowboys Fart

        If one could take into consideration the copious amounts of beans consumed by cowboys in the Wild West on a regular basis, it should come as no surprise that they would invariably pass a substantial amount of gas. Yet, never before Blazing Saddles (1974) did a film have the audacity to depict such a riotous scene. Blazing Saddles, in fact, is widely known to be the first of any Hollywood film to apparently have a character breaking wind during a legitimate take. This is but one of many instances in the film for which no other director could possibly have gotten away with unscathed except for Mel Brooks, the director of Blazing Saddles.

        The humor, though perhaps crude and childish, nonetheless delivered such biting social critique that much did not pass by too many contemporary audiences. Certainly the film was hilarious, but the film instinctively found a way to turn the usual Western on its head by highlighting certain major flaws that often plagued the genre, most notably racism. One example that would be at the top of everyone's list would be the use of the "N" word throughout Blazing Saddles (1974). To be honest, even I do not feel at ease in writing out this derogatory word in its entirety even though it would be for the purely academic purpose of a commentary paper.

        Besides blacks, Native Americans and Chinese laborers were also routinely assigned lowly roles in many American Westerns. In this particular film, for the need of social awareness, whites were often assigned roles as bumbling buffoons. Indeed the hippest character in the film was the black sheriff, Bart (Cleavon Little). An interesting tidbit is that Mel Brooks had originally intended for Richard Pryor, not Cleavon Little, to fill the role of Bart. However, Mel Brooks could not receive funding if he were to cast Pryor, so Pryor was made co-writer instead. Even if filmed in our present time, Richard Pryor perhaps may have still been too risqué for Hollywood financiers.

        As was the case then, devotees of westerns can still get really upset at film makers tweaking their favorite genres with outrageous spins on the characters and story lines.

John Couris

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