When we look back on our favorite movies, there are lots of good memories, but we tend to block out the problematic aspects. Many films have a prejudiced or problematic aspect to them which was ok back in the day, but would never be considered politically correct in 2020. Here are the most startling movie moments in Hollywood flicks that we didn’t realize were insensitive.
1. Love Actually
This is going to make a lot of people upset, but there are a lot of issues with the Christmas themed romantic comedy. For one thing, the British flick consistently fat-shames, displays acts of racism, and the gross side of power dynamics. Remember Colin Firth and that housekeeper? Or we could focus on the very stalker-like performance with cue cards that happens in the end. It’s not cute at all, and women, you deserve better.
Many of us were crushing on John Travolta in Grease. After all, it is a love story – with predatory song lyrics. The main theme of the love story in Grease is what really grinds our gears. Olivia Newton John’s character portrays the idea that if a woman changes her entire persona, she might have a chance with the man of her dreams. Nowadays, more and more films are spreading the message of “be yourself,” as they should!
3. Sixteen Candles
It’s easy to romanticize this movie – Molly Ringwald stole our hearts in so many 1980s scenes, how could we not? But every time you find yourself falling for the fantasy, remember the character of Long Duk Dong, which portrayed racist stereotypes of Asian people. Gedde Watanabe was a shining beacon of on-screen representation for Asians, but we’re so disappointed in the character that was written for him. Additionally, there are discussions about assaulting Caroline when she’s drunk and unconscious.
4. She’s All That
Ah, the classic rom com trope: a perfectly good-looking girl needs to take off her glasses and put on a skin revealing outfit for someone to even glance her way. When the movie starts off, Laney is an independent tough girl with unusual views on things. So we wonder, when she’s such a baddie, why she would give it all up to be the conventional, boring “hot girl”?
5. American Beauty
This Kevin Spacey flick was a cult classic, but outside of its artistic riskiness, the sexualization of underage teens is downright unacceptable in 2020. It’s based about an entitled but very whiny white dude who ultimately “falls in love” (aka, acts like a predator to a child) with his daughter’s best friend. When you consider the Hollywood allegations against Spacey, this takes on a whole new light.
6. Pulp Fiction
We can’t name a Quentin Tarantino movie that hasn’t been controversial to people, but Pulp Fiction was the original straw that broke the camel’s back. When Quentin Tarantino’s character describes the dead body in the car with him and Samuel L Jackson, he persists in using the N-word. This is definitely not ok for a white man to say on screen, and it’s slightly disturbing to think of the fact that Tarantino might have cast himself just so he could get away with on-screen racism. You’re not invincible, Quentin – the PC police are coming for you!
7. Bring it On
We will always love Gabrielle Union from Bring it On, but thank goodness she has evolved as a woman since the film was aired. This 2000s teen movie was considered edgy, but we all remember the rampant homophobia that plagued it – Sparky Polastry, for instance, is a glaring stereotype of gay people portrayed by a straight actor. He also uses problematic language about neurodiverse individuals, and in other scenes, teens are repeatedly sexualized, shamed, and even inappropriately touched by a male cheerleader.