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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09.10.18 | School-Themed Tunes to Hum to in Homeroom
School is back in session making us remember all the songs that make school-themed flicks fun.
Sure, movies are nothing like what we remember school to be like, but why relive our own super-awkward academic days when Hollywood made school glamorous and full of good times?
These ten tunes with school at center stage are full of nostalgia. Grab your backpack and brown bag lunch. Rock and roll down the halls and sing through study hall. Check out these videos and revisit those school days when life was simpler and sentimental. Even if you were a "C-" student, these jams get an A+!
“You’re the One That I Want” – Grease
"I've got chills…" If you never seem to get enough of Danny and Sandy's romance back in the days of cool cars and too-cool-for-school students, "You're the One that I Want" will get you in the mood to watch Grease yet again. Teenage love is always confusing, but when the tunes are as good as the ones from this movie's soundtrack, the awkwardness is somehow amazing.
“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – Breakfast Club
Forget? How could we?! This tune is all about the '80s and its countless teenage trials and tribulations. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" is not only an awesome song, but makes us think of our high school days and the relationships that helped us through 'till graduation. Molly Ringwald, you are our spirit animal!
“Good Morning Baltimore” – Hairspray
Whether on screen or on stage, Hairspray is full of school-themed theatrics that put music to math and scales to science. "Good Morning Baltimore" is a belt-out beauty, full of the high-energy Hairspray is all about. Big hair, don't care!
“If You Leave” – Pretty in Pink
Pretty in Pink is a classic, from the concept to the characters. We can all relate to the teenage misery and milestones, and "If You Leave" is part of the soundtrack of our lives. High school may not have always been pretty, but "If You Leave" is a beautiful song.
“In Your Eyes” Say Anything
Our hearts are aching. Young love put out there to reveal a raw heart and first-love feelings come to the forefront in that unforgettable Say Anything scene. With a "boom box" blaring and a school boy laying his love on the line, "In Your Eyes" is as clear as a love letter put to lyrics can be.
“Milkshake” – Mean Girls
Mean as the "cool girls" may have been, there's nothing sweeter than a "Milkshake." Lindsay Lohan may be today's "hot mess" but when she starred in the high school flick Mean Girls, she was the cherry on top of a classic high school flick.
“Fame – Remember My Name” – Fame
Most of us went to an average high school where the most activity we saw was playing dodgeball or running around the track. But for the highly-gifted, tremendously talented kids in the flick Fame, singing and dancing made the days at school more like getting ready for the red carpet. "Baby look at me…" We sure are!
“Danke Schoen” – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Oh what fun it must have been to be a fella like Ferris. With no cares in the world and a flair for fun, this cocky character made us all wish we had the chutzpah to cut school and sing "Danke Schoen" on the top of our lungs. You only live once, and Ferris Bueller made every second count.
“Touch Me” – School of Rock
If your school was more "rule book" than "rock," School of Rock was surely a much-loved fantasy of what you wish your school days were like. Jack Black played an unlikely teacher, but he made the students embrace music with more passion than any social studies class could conjure up. So, "Touch Me" (by the Doors) may not seem appropriate for grade school kids, but somehow, School of Rock made it work.
“One Foot in Front of the Other” – Revenge of the Nerds
Nerds! They may have been dorky, but the jocks were taken for a ride by the pocket-protector-clad crew in Revenge of the Nerds. When it comes down to it, "brains" beats "brawn" any day of the week. College is more than parties and playing football. Smarts, sensitivity, and a little savvy got the nerds to the top of the class. Revenge sure is sweet!
Melissa A. Kay is a New York-based writer, editor, and content strategist. Follow her work on Popdust as well as sites including TopDust, Chase Bank, P&G, Understood.org, The Richest, GearBrain, The Journiest, Bella, TrueSelf, Better Homes & Gardens, AMC Daycare, and more.
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