Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Blazing Saddles, Washington Style

There is this scene from Mel Brooks’ hilarious 1974 movie Blazing Saddles that I really absolutely love. This western town is in the midst of chaos. Crime abounds. Banks are being plundered. The women folk are being raped. Absolute chaos. So the townspeople petition the territory governor for assistance, and he hires a sheriff.

So the day the sheriff is due to arrive, the whole town turns out. There is a marching band. Politicians are giving speeches, the whole nine. Enter the late Cleavon Little as the sheriff. As the town spots him from afar on the horizon, a cheer goes up. But then as he draws closer, the townspeople get a better view, and much to their chagrin, realize the sheriff is black. “The sheriff’s a neeg--,” someone shouts, not quite able to get the complete word out before the scene changes.

That’s how I see the current scene in Washington. Bush and his administration proved so utterly incompetent and left things in such shambles, that the nation cried out for change. And on the scene steps Barack Obama.

President Obama won the campaign far and square. He articulated a message of change that everyone seemed to me looking for. It seemed that his message seemed to overshadow his race. That’s not to say the nation did not recognize that he was black. But that is to say that given the dire circumstances of the time and the McCain/Palin ticket’s grievious missteps and inadequacies, the fact that he was black seemed not to matter so much.

Now reality sets in. It’s as if someone stared into the horizon, only to discover that the president is a neeg--! Perhaps its just me, but in the discussions of President’s Obama’s performance thus far, it seems I’m not hearing, “How is this president doing?”, but “How is this black man doing as president?”.

Let’s face it. We’re in uncharted territory here. The question is not so much can the president succeed, but can a black man in this position be successful.

What’s my second favorite scene from Blazing Saddles? It’s when Cleavon Little’s character and another black character infiltrate a Klu Klux Klan rally. Their race is hidden underneath the hoods, but suddenly someone spots their hands sticking out and then snatches the hoods from their heads. There is a moment of silence when everyone tries to figure out what to do next. Suddenly, the sheriff flashes a pearly white smile and asks the klan members in attendance, “Where’s the white women?” A chase ensues.


Related Posts with Thumbnails