When making a movie, writers, directors, and producers always need to consider longevity: Will this movie remain relevant to audiences in five years? Ten? Twenty?
Of course, some movies are made to capitalize on current trends, make a quick buck, and then slip away into the annals of zeitgeists past. You've Got Mail was dated even before AOL went out of style. But for every hacky "hey old people, check out this modern technology!" movie, there's a whole slew of movies that try to capture something honest and sincere in an attempt to appeal to audiences far beyond their era of creation.
Some succeed, earning the status of "classics" as viewers pass them down from generation to generation. But society changes with time, and our greater social ethos changes along with it. As a result, even some "classic" movies fall short when viewed with fresh eyes––and for some of them, perhaps it's time for their "classic" status to be revoked.
Dumbo (1941) and The Jungle Book (1967)
Both Dumbo and The Jungle Book were early, animal-oriented Disney films that imbued a surprising degree of racism into their otherwise still-relevant narratives. Dumbo featured a singing crow who was actually named Jim Crow after the segregation laws of the era. His character design, voice, and mannerisms all mimicked black caricatures of the time period.
The Jungle Book, which came out over 20 years later (but only two years after the end of Jim Crow laws), continued a similar stereotype with King Louie, a villainous orangutan coded as a black man who sings to Mowgli about wanting to act more human. To Disney's credit, the Jim Crow character has been removed from Dumbo entirely, both in the live action remake and the upcoming Disney+ streaming service release of the original.
One important point to note is that unlike many of the other entries on this list that should probably be retired completely, Dumbo and The Jungle Book both hold historical relevance. Their racist scenes are largely reflective of the larger, segregation-era and post-segregation-era sentiments in America during the 40s and 60s respectively. They continue to hold importance within the larger canon of Western animation but should be viewed with the caveat of being products of their time. The same cannot be said for many of the rest of the movies on this list.
Porky's and Animal House
Consider this entry a catch-all for basically every "teen boys sexing it up" comedy of the late '70s and early '80s. All of these types of movies follow a group of raucous guys who engage in shenanigans revolving around sex with women. This would be fine if not for the fact that "sex with women" really means objectifying women, lying to women, peeping on women, and getting women very drunk and doing things to them without their consent. Female characters in these movies never seem like real people, existing entirely to fulfill the wishes of male viewers. It's no wonder that many of the men who grew up watching these movies still hold ridiculously toxic views about women.
Revenge of the Nerds
20th Century Fox
Revenge of the Nerds is a lot like all the movies from the previous entry, except it goes a step farther by including an outright rape scene and passing it off as comedy. Here's the set-up: One of the nerds, Lewis, has a crush on Betty, the girlfriend of a jock named Stan. At a costume party, Betty waits in a bedroom to have sex with Stan. Lewis steals Stan's costume and has sex with her instead. Betty thinks she is having sex with Stan because she consented to have sex with Stan. She did not consent to have sex with Lewis. Therefore, Lewis raped her using deception. HAHAHA, right?
Of course, Betty is a non-character written by sexists, so she responds by falling in love with him. This has lead many other sexists to decide that this is not rape. They are incorrect. Rape by deception is rape. The act portrayed in this movie is rape. Anyone who disagrees is objectively a rape defender and a sexist. Feel free to out yourselves in the comments.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is just another wacky Jim Carrey romp where a big, loony goofball catches a murderer by...publicly removing her clothes to reveal that she's actually a pre-op transgender person? Wait. That's pretty messed up. Everyone gags and apparently this is supposed to be very funny? Looking back on it, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective basically boils down to a big "transgender people are gross!" joke. Lame.
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Breakfast at Tiffany's features Mickey Rooney in yellowface performing what might be the worst hate crime against Japanese people ever committed to film. Why did they do this? Just...why?
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
As an action film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom still holds up surprisingly well. The action continues to feel original and creative, even after being copycatted for decades. The portrayal of Indian and Hindu culture, on the other hand, is absurdly offensive. Essentially bastardizing foreign cultures for shock value, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom popularized long-lasting, incorrect myths such as the "Indians eat monkey brains" trope. Not cool.
View Askew Productions
Imagine a movie coming out today in which a straight man romantically pursues an out lesbian in an attempt to "change her back" and then actually succeeds. Such a film would be unfathomable. But back in the late '90s when LGBTQ+ communities weren't nearly as visible in the public eye, Chasing Amy seemed not only plausible, but cutting edge. Unlike a lot of the other films here, Chasing Amy doesn't intend to turn marginalized people into jokes––it just fails to understand them.
Crash was never a good movie. Crash never deserved its Best Picture Academy Award. Crash was a white director's shoddy attempt to boil down racism, race relations, and racial tensions into a simplified, melodramatic package meant for consumption by white people. Insane scenes delight in racially charged nonsense, like when a Persian shopkeeper, driven mad by racist slights, attempts to murder a Latino locksmith for no reason. Or when a racist white cop "redeems" himself by rescuing a black woman from a car crash after basically molesting her earlier in the movie. Crash was never and will never be anything better than stinky, stinky garbage. Please, throw Crash out.
20th Century Fox
Big may be a fun Tom Hanks romp full of whimsy and keyboard dancing, but it's also a movie where a little kid uses magic and lies to seduce and sleep with a grown woman named Susan. Ultimately, Susan discovers the truth and watches Tom Hanks turn back into a child, after which she presumably kills herself. Seriously, this poor woman needs to live with the knowledge that her emotional maturity is on par with a twelve-year-old and that she slept with a literal child. Where does a person go from there?
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