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HBO Max puts trigger warning on Western spoof Blazing Saddles due to 'racist language and attitudes'

HBO Max have begun showing a warning before the classic Western spoof Blazing Saddles, alerting viewers to the 1974 film’s ‘racist language and attitudes’ throughout.

The film began streaming on the platform on July 28.

Ahead of the film, HBO airs an introduction by University of Chicago professor of cinema studies and TCM host Jacqueline Stewart – similar to the disclaimer introduced in June in front of Gone with the Wind.

‘This movie is an overt and audacious spoof on classic Westerns,’ Stewart says in the newly added intro. 

‘It’s as provocative today as it was when it premiered back in 1974.’

Cleavon Little, who died in 1992, and Gene Wilder, who died in 2016, star in the film

Cleavon Little, who died in 1992, and Gene Wilder, who died in 2016, star in the film

The film tells how Bart (Little) overcomes racism to endear himself to residents of Rock Ridge

The film tells how Bart (Little) overcomes racism to endear himself to residents of Rock Ridge

HBO Max have put a warning before the streaming of the comedy classic Blazing Saddles

HBO Max have put a warning before the streaming of the comedy classic Blazing Saddles

The film tells the story of a railroad worker, Bart, played by Cleavon Little, who becomes the first black sheriff of Rock Ridge, a frontier town about to be destroyed in order to make way for a new railroad. 

Initially, the people of Rock Ridge harbor a racial bias toward their new sheriff, but then warm to him after realizing that Bart and his perpetually drunk gunfighter friend, Gene Wilder, are the only defense against a wave of thugs sent to rid the town of its population.

Jacqueline Stewart delivers the three-minute warning ahead of Blazing Saddles on HBO

Jacqueline Stewart delivers the three-minute warning ahead of Blazing Saddles on HBO

Stewart, in her three-minute explanation, notes: ‘as the story line implies the issue of race is front and center in Blazing Saddles.’

She continues: ‘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.’

Little died of cancer in 1992, aged 52. 

Wilder, best known for his 1971 role as Willy Wonka, died in 2016, aged 83.

Stewart also informs audiences about director Mel Brooks’ spoofing ways. 

'Racist language and attitudes pervade the film,' says Stewart in the warning before the film

‘Racist language and attitudes pervade the film,’ says Stewart in the warning before the film

Mel Brooks' work is widely seen as a comedy classic, despite its racist themes and tone

Mel Brooks’ work is widely seen as a comedy classic, despite its racist themes and tone

Stewart highlights the director’s later genre satires, including Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety and Spaceballs.

Richard Pryor initially was up for Little’s role, but was turned down for his controversial stand-up material. The comedian, however, stayed on board and contributed to the writing. 

The situation is similar to that of Gone With The Wind, which was pulled from HBO Max not long after the streaming service was introduced, due to outcry over its outdated and racist story and themes. 

The 1939 war classic returned in June with additional context, also narrated by Stewart, and a disclaimer attached. 

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