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Does Blazing Saddles Need a Disclaimer for Racist Content?

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HBO Max recently pulled ‘Gone with the Wind’ from its video library as an indirect response to protests about racism. It was later returned it with a disclaimer to provide context. This strikes a reasonable balance between the aesthetic importance of the work and the moral importance of presenting slavery honestly. The disclaimer also provides context for the film itself, such as how racism impacted the black actors. Perhaps because of the success of this approach, HBO Max has added a disclaimer to the classic comedy ‘Blazing Saddles’. The comedy-western engages directly with racism and prominently features racist characters using racist language. But, as the disclaimer notes, the comedy is explicitly anti-racist. The racists are the villains. Racism is savaged with the finest comedy. As such, it might be wondered why the film requires a disclaimer—that the film is anti-racist should be evident. This, one might argue, is analogous to putting a disclaimer before ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ to make it clear that the famously anti-war film is not pro-war. But let us consider the matter of the disclaimer. One concern about putting a disclaimer on a film like ‘Blazing Saddles’ is it could provide ammunition to those saying the “politically correct cancel culture of the left” is out of control. One imagines Ben Shapiro or his fellows raging that the left has gone crazy and is mandating disclaimers on ‘Blazing Saddles’. It would thus be used as “proof” that “the left” is wrong about criticisms of racism in aesthetic works. A possible response is that the right’s outrage engines can create outrage ex nihilo and thus a disclaimer will have no meaningful impact aside from providing a focus of the outrage. That said, the disclaimer might have some impact on those critical enough to check to see if the target of the outrage exists, yet not critical enough to be thorough critics of the outrage. This might seem like a silly concern, but things like this disclaimer can. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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