Or Why the Statement “A Mel Brooks Couldn’t Be Made Today” Is Both Incorrect and a Sad Indictment About Certain Members of Our Society.
Linsday Ellis (formerly known as the Nostalgia Chick) does a lot of really good videos on her YouTube channel that take deep dives into various subjects. Her Loose Canon series looked at the way media portrayed various subjects (including a two-part series on the media’s portrayal of 9/11), but she has also done various other videos, including a current series about Michael Bay called The Whole Plate.
Her most recent video, however, was called “Mel Brooks, The Producers and the Ethics of Satire about N@zis” (ignore the @ sign, it has to do with YouTube’s weird algorithms) and it takes a long look at both why people say “You couldn’t make Blazing Saddles/a Mel Brooks movie today” and why that is both wrong and an indictment against certain people who don’t understand what made Brooks’ movies funny in the first place.
As the video points out, Brooks made fun of subjects like Hitler and racism in order to take away their power. Hitler became an effete parody in The Producers’ in-universe musical “Springtime For Hitler,” but there were a lot of people (Jews included) that were outraged by this. Blazing Saddles used the n-word a lot, but it always portrayed those using it as idiotic rubes. The films tries to rob these subjects of their power and it does so by making them into jokes.
But as Ellis points out, there’s also the “Paradox of Satire.” There will be people who see these films and come away not with the message that racism is bad, but that the film used the n-word a lot, so why can’t they? And as the video later states, this isn’t just limited to satire — American History X is all about condemning the Neo-Nazi lifestyle...but it’s loved by a lot of Neo-Nazis because of the way it portrays them. So when does satire help and when does it hurt?
I would highly recommend watching the entire video, because it’s highly informative and also funny.