HBO Max added a content warning to Blazing Saddles. The streaming platform was committed to adding these disclaimers to movies rather than removing them anymore. There was a huge dustup when the service decided to pull Gone With the Wind. Social media devolved into an uproar about the choice to stop hosting the film, even though it was replaced shortly afterward. Conversations kept raging about censorship and it’s role in this new streaming landscape. The 1974 comedy film is a classic to a lot of movie fans, so they’re happy that the feature isn’t being censored and instead of being used to spark a discussion about the attitudes of the time.
Jacqueline Stewart is a cinema and media studies professor at the University of Chicago and a host on TCM. She said in the introduction, "as the storyline implies the issue of race is front and center in Blazing Saddles. And racist language and attitudes pervade the film. 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."
Stewart also wrote an op-ed on CNN about the issues surrounding Gone With the Wind’s removal.
"For me, this is an opportunity to think about what classic films can teach us," Stewart wrote. "Right now, people are turning to movies for racial re-education, and the top-selling books on Amazon are about anti-racism and racial inequality. If people are really doing their homework, we may be poised to have our most informed, honest and productive national conversations yet about Black lives on screen and off."
She also added, "As the current debates about putting up, taking down, and contextualizing Gone with the Wind make clear, it is a film that continues to expose deep fissures in our interpretations of American history, film history and the relationship between the two. The film has loyal fans, and it has vocal critics who critique its version of Southern history with the same language Black activists used when they picketed the film 80 years ago. But as I saw at a jam-packed panel discussion on "The Complicated Legacy of 'Gone with the Wind'" at the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival, there are people who love the film, and others who love to hate it, and still others who are nonetheless curious about how other folks respond to it."
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