Mel Brooks is a Jewish American man who has written movies and stage plays. He is considered a comedy writer and has written some incredibly successful comedy things.
One of his movies is named ‘Blazing Saddles’ and it is about an African American man in the Wild West era of America. This character is appointed sheriff of a town full of people who openly use the N-word to describe him.
After doing a fantastic job of being a sheriff, he wins over the town and everybody ends up thinking he’s actually a great guy (for one of them).
All the way through the film, racial slurs are bandied about with fascist abandon, and this contributes to what is considered the comedy in the narrative.
As mentioned, the storyline is set in a time where slavery had not long been abolished in America, and black people had not long been allowed to ride horses. A practice that was previously illegal to them. Still they were not allowed to own land, or be in the same room as white people, and were generally considered subhuman.
Mel Brooks could have told the true story of Bass Reeves, the black sheriff who lived in the nineteenth century, on whom The Lone Ranger was based (played by a white actor). But instead he made a comedy about racism, probably in an attempt to bridge the divide between black and white people and create unity through laughter at black people’s expense.
Brooks has lamented recently that racism can’t be comedy any more because of political correctness. Apparently, it is no longer acceptable to laugh about a newly freed-from-slavery, marginalised people being marginalised by newly former-master-and-owner marginalisers. Political correctness gone mad.
It seems that Mel has seen the error of his ways and stopped writing such nasty, divisive and controversial art. He said “It’s OK not to hurt the feelings of various tribes and groups. However, it’s not good for comedy.” Also, Brooks has referred to political correctness as “the death of comedy.”
At one time, there was nothing Brooks wouldn’t joke about. He said “comedy has to walk the line, take risks.” When asked if there was anything he would not write comedy about, Mel exclaimed “I would never touch gas chambers or the death of children at the hands of Nazis. In no way is that useable or correct for comedy. Its just in truly bad taste. Everything else is ok.”
Well said, Mel. Never joke about an ethnic group who have been enslaved, murdered and who’s existence was made illegal. Never. There’s only one group of people that has ever happened to, obviously, so they must not be the butt of anyone’s jokes. But as you say, everything else is ok.
Even if an ethnic group has been born the property of another ethnic group for four hundred years, only to be reluctantly set free, with another two hundred years of social barriers holding them back, just because of the colour of their skin, they’re still fine to joke about. Absolutely fair game.
Shame really, as I had a good idea for a Rom-Com set in Dachau, starring David Schwimmer and Stacey Solomon.