It’s time for Zen Movie Review, Blazing Saddles by Mel Brooks, which we watched last night at our Friday Night at the movies. Right off in the name we have irony; is the saddle too hot or is it too bright. Does the glare of irony blind you? Do we need sun glasses to protect our eyes from this blazing saddle. What is the saddle. Its meaning is like holding a wiggling fish.
Does this saddle right mankind? Hate is in the saddle and rides America. Okay, says Mel, lets see what happens if we flip the saddle and put a black man (see I can’t even say nigger here, like Mel does in the movie) in the saddle of the western hero who rides into town to restore order. Everything becomes absurd. Utter absurd crazy chaos. And then the movie spills into the studio and then into the streets and then into the theater, and then back to the western town….It’s all mixed up. We are all living in our own movie, in our American myth of the Western Savior and the Nigger, the two myths that are in the saddle and ride America.
What Mel points out is that you can’t have a white savior without a nigger. The nigger is the white mans projection on the movie screen of his own self loathing. The white man can’t love himself unless he has a nigger to hate. How can we point that out unless we imagine what it would be like if the roles were reversed. This is good therapy. When you are stuck in a role, in a myth of yourself, in a fixed position that repeats itself down through the generations, reverse the role and play the other side. See how that feels.
It is then that you can see that the two roles, white savior and nigger, are mutually dependent. The master is dependent upon the slave, and he hates that, so he lynches the slave when the slave disturbs the polarity upon which he depends. The white man is dependent upon the nigger in order to be white and superior, and he needs to be superior so he won’t see that he fears he is inferior, because his identity is dependent upon another. To have no identity is a terror. Without the slave, the master doesn’t know who he is.
The mantra of this myth, of this blazing saddle that is too hot to sit on, rings through the movie. The only way off this saddle is to see the ultimate absurdity of it all. And then we laugh at ourselves.