We aren't at our most observant during childhood and adolescence.
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And even when we do notice some things that are objectionable, we're likely to think they're funny because we're immature and stupid. Hey, white kids raised by and among white people who casually interject racism into 90% of their conversations are not very likely to listen to a song and think, "Hmm, I find this language Problematic" or "This movie unfairly stereotypes ethnic groups." Maybe I'm projecting and you were Super Woke as a child. I wasn't. I guess you're a better person than me.

Recently I had two experiences with media that I remember from when I was much younger, both of which I remember enjoying quite a bit when they were new. And now, as a 38 year old adult I find myself kind of amazed at how fucked up they seem.
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First, I pulled up Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to stream as a background movie while grading exams.
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I probably haven't seen it in 30 years. I distinctly remember my mom driving me and my sister to my dad's office to pick him up at work, after which we went straight to the theater to see it on its opening day. I must have been less than 8 years old, and I remember loving it. Try watching it now as an adult; tell me you can enjoy it even a little given 1) how totally and stunningly Kate Capshaw is able to act, even a little, and 2) how kind of jaw-droppingly racist it is. I mean. It's hard to expect sensitive treatment of non-Western cultures in action-adventure movies of the present (let alone decades ago) but…come on. There's a limit. I can overlook a sass-quipping Asian sidekick (that actor, it turns out, has had a very successful career in film in non-acting roles) or having a Non Specifically Ethnic Villain, but it's as if the people who made this movie took a lengthy checklist of stereotypes about Indians and Asians and made sure not to miss any of them. Christ.

Second – and this one is more recent, but hear me out – was having DMX "Where the Hood At" pop up on a shuffle. This track (from 2003) came out in my early adulthood, at the point where I should have known better, but if you know anything at all about rap you understand that you're not listening to DMX to listen to his lyrics. He has one of the smallest vocabularies in hip-hop. And that's OK, because, "in last place: DMX. But this shouldn't undermine an artist whose raw energy and honesty were the most memorable qualities of his music." OK. But try listening to "Where the Hood At." Holy balls the first verse of that song is the most brazenly homophobic thing in existence. Most people probably don't even know it's there, because the entire point of DMX (and that track) is to turn it up real loud and yell WHERE THE HOOD WHERE THE HOOD WHERE THE HOOD ATTTTT with a large group of similarly enthusiastic people.
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Even devoted fans probably don't know the rest of the words to the song. But….damn. You've been warned.

What are some of your favorite examples of shit you thought was awesome and now do a hard cringe at?

130 thoughts on “NPF: UPON FURTHER REVIEW”

  • Bond, particularly Sean Connery, who is himself a member of the same group of formerly beloved now cringed at. The one that did it was when I was in college and rewatched the one where he rapes a nurse in the shower while supposedly recovering from an injury. Even Idris Elba would not get me into a Bond film.
    Also, the Dukes of Hazzard. *shudder*

  • I'm 34. I had never heard DMX until last year (I grew up in a whiter place than Ed, apparently) and I was completely shocked by the language. I can't believe he has a career.

  • Before I had more complex musical tastes, I thought Aerosmith was amazing and now that I am not 11 anymore, I cannot even stand to hear Steven Tyler's voice on the radio without descending into a borderline psychotic rage. A second example is NASCAR. I grew up in a small town in Indiana with dirt race track and NASCAR was/is huge there. I was in like 6th grade when Dale Earnhardt died at Daytona and I went into a mini depression that ended with me realizing how profoundly stupid the concept of driving a vehicle at 180 MPH in a circle actually was to me.

  • Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is one of the most horrifyingly racist & unfunny things ever put out by Hollywood (aside from Mel Gibson of course). Even as a kid seeing it for the first time in the 70's I thought it was way over the top.

    I love all the Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellers, but today whenever I see him refer to Kato as "my little yellow friend", I cringe hard.

  • Probably the same as everyone else's, but ye gads, the ending to Sixteen Candles where the blonde gal gets literally passed over to one of the male characters as a party favor.

  • Ace Venture, Pet Detective. It's mind-bendingly transphobic. It bothered me a bit when I first saw it (since I am transgender), but back then trans jokes were just part of the landscape. Now, however, it really comes across as shockingly awful.

  • I remember watching several Humphrey Bogart movies and just cringing over and over at how misogynistic they were. He treats women worse than second-class citizens in them. I realize it was a reflection of gender roles at that time, but damn! The fact that people look up to him as an example of what a "real man" was… it's really sad.

  • Any episode of Bonanza or Gunsmoke. Jeez.
    Also, with all credit for the mockery and satiric license, and tongue-in-cheekiness of it – still, Randy Newman's Good Old Boys. Headphones only.
    Is it any wonder that 99% of Zeppelin fans had the Y chromosome?

  • Already mentioned above, Breakfast at Tiffanny's and Sixteen Candles. I grew up in a midwestern suburb in the '70s and we played a little game called 'Shmear the queer'-essentially football where one person with the ball runs around while everyone else tries to tackle him. I was also in Indian Guides, which was supposed to be the liberal version of the Boy Scouts, and it was, but also really kind of accidentally racist.

  • As a teenager I read Stranger in a Strange Land several times and loved it. I think by college I realized that it was "problematic," as the kids say—I remember recommending it to a friend and saying it was a lot of fun "if you don't mind a little casual sexism and homophobia." A decade and a half later, I'm amazed by how blatant and pervasive the sexism is—the book turns out to be all but unreadable. (And all the more so if you read the "director's cut" version that got published in the 90s.)

    I kind of wish I'd discovered Dune as a teenager too. I just read it for the first time in my mid-30s and imagine that I would have liked it quite a bit at an age when the sexism wouldn't have seemed so blatant. (Not to mention all the white-savior, noble-savage stuff.)

  • "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heinlein. Just altogether way less impressive when read as a grown-up. Mostly the inevitable-turning-into-Jesus thing. The stuff the main character says.
    Also, the rich guy. The rich guy reads like a sort of a libertarian child's fantasy of the good life. Complete with secretaries to whom he can be constantly rude, and they only occasionally chuck him in the swimming pool for it.

  • This might be a silly example, but I watched an episode of the old She-Ra cartoon where her pet magical unicorn had a baby but due to a nefarious plot by the bad guys, it was born as a regular boring horse instead. Then there was a bit where the parents magnanimously decided they were ok with it and would still love him anyway…then She-Ra remembered she has a goddamn magic sword so she "fixed" the baby and turned it into a unicorn and there was much rejoicing. Cringe x1000. Substitute "gay" or "handicapped" or "autistic" for "horse" and "straight" or "able-bodied" or "neurotypical" for "unicorn" and rejoice in the thunderously awful life lesson there.

  • I've only seen Bogart in 'Casablanca' and 'To Have and Have Not', and he comes off pretty well. He starts as a misanthrope in both of them, but learns to engage as part of the story. That was a big theme in that era, the importance of connecting with the world. 'Thunder Rock' was an iconic play, and there's a good chunk of engagement theater in 'Lord of the Rings', especially the first book. A lot of the drive for this was the depression and the World War.

    'Sixteen Candles' does not hold up well, though parts of it are still hilarious. 'Gone With The Wind' was always racist, but it is still the Great American Novel which says something about our country.

    Also, anyone saying "That's mighty white of you.", except for a black character speaking ironically in an intentionally retro piece.

  • Hardy Boys. They had a friend, Chet, whose only character development was that he was fat. And it gets worked into every single sentence about him. "'Sure I will, Frank' said their portly companion." Chunky. Plump. Stout. Heavy. Every sentence.

    Also, I'm amazed I read about 100 Hardy Boys books without noticing that the writing is just pathetic, execrable. I can't imagine who I was then to enjoy them.

  • Gone With the Wind has to be a huge one for me. I am old enough that I predate even VHS, at least as a readily available home thing. They still did periodic, limited-time theater re-releases and one of them came along and I BEGGED my mom to take me and she did. We both loved it. I was maybe 12. Should I have known better? It wasn't even like, OK, there's a lot of problems with this but there's some great movie making as well; it was just unalloyed thrill. Now I am just appalled. The thing is, a lot of people who should still just don't have the first clue.

  • There are probably many, but I re-watched Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid recently. The scene where Steve Martin "adjusts" the breasts of an unconscious Rachel Ward is shocking. What's also shocking is that I once thought it funny.

  • I'm going to second Breakfast At Tiffany's. Holy shit.

    Also, Eddie Murphy's Delirious. That whole gay chunk is nearly unlistenable. The police siren in Raw is funny as shit, though.

  • There's a scene in, I think, Superman, where Larry Hagman's character suggests giving a (feigning) unconscious Miss Tessmarker a "vigorous chest massage, and if that doesn't work… mouth-to-mouth". At the time it seemed funny.

  • I read a lot of science fiction when I was young and even as a white boy in the 70s it was hard to miss the sexism. It was harder to notice the racism and homophobia since all the characters were straight and white – except for the aliens. I suppose the toughest thing has been to insist on enjoying Tolkien despite the fact that he drinks from the same toxic historical springs as Nazism does.

  • Angela Englert says:

    So much casual homophobia in Mystery Science Theater. "Joel, isn't this kind of fruity?" etc. I still love it, but that stuff clangs at me like someone just dropped an armload of china.

  • Funny, I just watched Temple of Doom last week, and it's really the worst of all of them (even Crystal Skull, yeah I said it, I will fight you).

    Other movies I've watched in the past two months (I've been on a bit of a roll with films from my youth):
    Crocodile Dundee – there's some wild transphobia in there played for laughs.
    Starship Troopers – love all of those pasty white folk from Buenos Aries.
    G.I. Jane – the references to sexuality are part of the military culture at the time (DADT and that), but it's played pretty negatively outside of those contexts.

  • I grew up watching Westerns with my Dad and of course now I have a very different perspective on how Native Americans are depicted in just about all of them. There are a few in which the situation is more nuanced, and it's interesting that John Wayne in Hondo is shown as both respectful of Native American culture and towards the female lead, played by one of the best actresses he ever worked with, Geraldine Page. And then he turns around in McClintock! And in Donovan's Reef and gives a "hilarious" spanking to the women in the films. It's just awful.

  • Okay – not from my youth but a show currently on that my kids will undoubtedly scold me for allowing them to watch: Lab Rats Elite Force. There's a male character who has a crush on a female character. He is a freaking stalker. He takes video of her while she's brushing her teeth for Christ's sake. I always yell in the background that he's a creep.

    Allowing them to watch this makes me a terrible parent, doesn't it? Fuck.

  • Are you kidding? EVERYTHING from my youth. Every. Single. Fucking. Thing. But of course some things stand out:
    The Dean Martin Show. Wowza.

    Laugh-In. Now,it's true, there was some political commentary, but a lot of that show was really sexist.

    Star Trek (original). Yep, Star Trek. While it made some advances with regard to racial diversity, it was still just terribly sexist. Sure, the women could be professional and scientists, but they were still mainly there for sex.

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    Most people from Buenos Aires ARE white. It may be MORE racist to assume that people who live in Latin America and speak Spanish have to be brown. :-)

  • re: Breakfast at Tiffany's

    When the spouse and I were planning our wedding a few years ago, we started binge watching wedding reality shows on Netflix. This mostly turned out to be a huge source of things we REALLY didn't want to do. The strangest thing was that at least every third episode seemed to include a couple that was planning a 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' themed wedding. I still can't figure out why anyone who has actually watched that film from start to finish would ever want it as their wedding theme.

  • Revenge of the Nerds. I loved, LOVED that movie when I was a teenager. Then I saw it again a few months ago and felt ill. Rampant misogyny and homophobia, including a rape portrayed as romantic hijinx.

    James Stewart is a complete and utter asshole to Doris Day in The Man Who Knew Too Much. Some see it as commentary on the Eisenhower-era man's-man persona. I just see a dude slapping his wife when she gets upset that her son is kidnapped.

  • Netflix recently released the original 1961 Parent Trap. I loved that movie as a kid but hadn't seen it since. Once they're reunited, Maureen O'Hara repeatedly hits Brian Keith, not love taps – HARD. It was jarring to watch.

  • alighierispal says:

    Try being in your sixties and listening to the music that enlivened your youth. I was a blues fan. "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," or almost any of Robert Johnson's songs. Good lord.

  • I graduated from college with a degree in theater (set & lighting design) and worked on a production of "Kiss Me, Kate" during that time. I thought that, for a musical, it was pretty good. The songs were catchy, plot was interesting (a play within a play of "The Taming of the Shrew), and the characters suitably over the top.

    Recently, I saw a local production and could not enjoy it for one moment because of the misogyny and casual treatment of what is clearly domestic violence. Different times, I guess.

  • A lot of comedies have the lovable male character trying to trick women into having sex with them, or demonstrate their affection by badgering and stalking and chasing them until they give in, and this is treated as just Part Of The Game. Check out Bill Murray's behavior in Ghostbusters, one of my favorite movies, as an example.

    My favorite example is M*A*S*H, a universally-beloved smash hit TV program that wore its liberalism on its sleeve, but could just have accurately been titled L*O*L*R*A*P*E (be sure and look up how "Trapper" John earned his nickname!)

  • I used to devour Ben Bova's sci-fi books, but his earlier stuff is way sexist. I forget what I was reading, but one of the lead scientists was a woman who had a fainting spell because of something and later realized that she just wanted to be a mother and petticoats and whatnot.

    He wasn't great at characters, but he was fantastic at the science of sci-fi.

  • Gone with the Wind. As a teen I read and re- read it countless times. About 20 years back I was seriously taken aback by how overtly racist it is. This past summer I decided to try again, and it is so unbelievably racist I couldn't even finish it. Especially after the war ended, it really becomes a horror story and fetishizes the rise of the Klan. I ended up throwing it away.

  • Better Off Dead? I'm wracking my brain trying to remember anything there. The Asians who speak like Howard Cosell? The horrible portrayal of French people? What am I mis-remembering?

  • Death Panel Truck says:

    AC/DC. Loved them as a teenager and into early adulthood; now, not so much. The rampant sexism bothers me. I do still like the songs that celebrate rock and roll, like "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll)", for instance.

  • I've got two, one of which is very modern and the other shows just how much worse things were 50 years ago.

    Modern: The Lion King. I had a hippie-ish/progressive teacher (one of many) who tried to tell us the speaking hyena characters were obviously racist ethnic stereotypes, one black, one Latino. I thought she was nuts. Watch it again — it's a fucking disgrace. The hyena scenes are a damn minstrel show. How Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin debased themselves to do those voice-overs is beyond me.

    Old: some time ago on Turner Classic Movies are whatever, I saw the 1960 Burt Lancaster/Audrey Hepburn western The Unforgiven (no relation to the Eastwood movie). Obviously all westerns back then had a laughably racist take on American Indians, but this one takes the cake. There's a scene where Lancaster is speaking to the Indians in what we apparently meant to understand is their own language, which consists of — I'm serious — English with all the articles and conjunctions removed. "Woman my house white. Dahkoi. Father white, mother white. Burned to death by you; by Kiowa."

    Reminder, this isn't how the Indian characters talked (oh wait, yes it is) but how Lancaster talked TO them. Just thinking about it makes me cringe.

  • As a kid I loved the Little House books and read them constantly. A few years ago I read them to my daughter and was reminded of the raging anti-Native American sentiment ("The only good Indian is a dead Indian!" said mother). There is also a scene in Little Town on the Prairie where the men in the town get together and perform a black-face minstrel show to the delight of the townspeople.

    This isn't really something I enjoyed, but my parents listened to a lot of twangy country music when we were kids. Songs like "If the South Would Have Won, We'd Have Had it Made" by Hank Williams, Jr. were pretty common. Bleh. Gross.

  • Oh, and the fucking gay stereotypes in some 80's movies! Meshach Taylor's character in the movie 'Mannequin' is just embarrassing.

  • Toward the end of Salt-N-Pepa's "Shoop:"

    "Twelve inches to a yard and have ya soundin' like a retard."

    After he says "retard," one of them (Salt?) makes that "retard" sound that nobody blinked at in the early nineties, accompanied by an attempt to lick one's ear and smack one's chest with a curled up hand. Basically the impression Trump did of Serge Kovaleski. I hadn't heard that song in years and shouted "OH MY GOD" as I was driving. It was playing on the radio.

    And it was recently used in Deadpool.

  • Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. There's just the one scene where Evil Bill and Evil Ted spend about a minute or so calling Bill and Ted fags.

  • Dances with Wolves, hands down. However, its white-savior theme makes for a very handy reference to describe other movies. Just a few examples:

    Dances with Wolves in Japan (The Last Samurai)
    Dances with Wolves in Servitude (The Help)
    Dances with Wolves in the Inner City (Dangerous Minds)
    Dances with Wolves in Space (Avatar)

    I'm sure you can come up with more!

    Also, a great disappointment in my life was discovering how racist H.P Lovecraft was. Sigh.

  • For all of our personal outrage at the horrible sexism, racism, and homophobia that was accepted as normal in the past we have to ask ourselves one question: Have racial and gender issues improved in the last 30 years?

    When we can't make fun of our differences, is there any real dialogue?

    We all love to consider ourselves to be "woke" progressives but we have managed to paint ourselves into corners where we are so afraid of the consequences of accidentally offending anyone different from ourselves that we ultimately end up less connected to anyone different than ourselves.

    Progress is great. Becoming humorless, sexles, judgemental scolds is not.

  • w/r/t Better Off Dead there's the Asian guys and also the one black guy saying some dumb jive thing.

    OH MAN remember Weird Science?

  • Most 70s rock can be summed up as "Hey baby, let's f*ck."

    I can't really listen to it anymore. Mostly because it's been so over played. I've reached my lifetime limit on stairway to freebird.

  • When I was taking a Portuguese class in Lisbon back in 1990, this Hawaiian friend of mine gave me a mixed tape that included the song "Glenn Miyashiro" by Frank DeLima. I thought it was hilarious at the time. About a year or two ago, I thought to check it out on Youtube. Let's just say that this time I found it uh, problematic.

  • FMguru, are you me? I used to love, love, love the tv show M*A*S*H. Caught a repeat a year or so back and found it unwatchable. Imagine–that show was thought to be progressive at the time. As for Ghostbusters, ABSOLUTELY as you said. I thought it was quite fun in 1984, saw the remake last year, and it hit me how utterly and reprehensibly sexist the original was.

    I was also a huge reader of science fiction and fantasy. Always hated Tolkien–sexist windbag. However, to my shame, I devoured Heinlein and Piers Anthony–putting up with the misogyny to get to the puns.

    Also agree about ST-TOS. As exciting as it was to see women who weren't just mommies and teachers, it was also depressing that nearly every woman was a prize to be won by Capt. Kirk.

  • FMguru: Last month I watched the movie M*A*S*H for the first time since I saw it in the theaters upon first release. I remember it as having been hysterically funny and I love Robert Altman – I think him one of the great directors of all time. But wow is that movie awful. All but unwatchable. The most vile, sexist thing I've ever witnessed. There wasn't a single scene I would want to sit through again.
    And the theme song – do you know the lyrics? Suicide is painless/it brings on many changes…..
    That comes about because a character thinks he's gay so he decides to commit suicide – and that is played for laughs cause gays should die, right?
    And again, remember, it was considered a progressive movie.

  • How about all those 80s high school movies, John Hughes & otherwise, where there's like maybe a black student in the hall sometimes, but literally EVERY character who figures in the plot at all is pure whitebread? (Long Duc Dong being the exception that proves the rule…)

  • Dire Straits – Money for Nothing.

    I'm guessing I was in High School when I got past the "I want my MTV" refrain and noticed the homophobic slang.

  • @ jonas
    Smear the queer was the best game ever; much worse things were said on playgrounds in the 1970's.
    Friends from other parts of the country called it 'smear the guy with the ball'. Not quite the same ring.

  • I'm sure I'll get back to this later but I wanted to say that this:

    "Maybe I'm projecting and you were Super Woke as a child. I wasn't. I guess you're a better person than me."

    was interesting.

    I was super unaware of how racist my upbringing was until i was 10 or 11 said something really racist, in the context of a "joke" and was upbraided for it by a large, middle-aged black woman–who, as luck would have it–was the same demographic, sex and approximate size as the subject of the punchline.

    I sometimes think that everyone should get that level of sensitivity woke me the fuck up.

  • Tarzan. Especially the Johnny Weissmuller movies. When I was a dumb kid, Maureen O'Sullivan was hot enough and naked enough to make just about anything forgivable, I suppose, but it's not enough anymore. Sorry, Mo.

    Re Starship Troopers: Not only are there lots of pasty white people who live in the real Buenos Aires, Starship Troopers is a parody of xenophobic white America, so criticizing it for racism seems odd.

  • I remember sitting in class in the 2nd grade after the Kent State shootings thinking that those students had no one to blame but themselves for getting killed.

    I was 9 years old.

  • I've always loved the movie Major League. My brother and sister and I could quote it from memory when we were kids, and I still basically can. I watched it recently with my girlfriend who had never seen it, and while it's just as hilarious, I hadn't realized just how fucked ion Tom Berringer's character is in that movie. He stalks Renne Russo to her job, her apartment, her fiance's apartment! And the movie treats it like this is just a really cute romance, instead of extremely creepy stalking.

    Bob Uecker is still goddamn amazing though.

  • "McLintock!" Yikes.

    Most 1950s and 60s Japanese horror movies.

    Every other paragraph in any Heinlein book.

  • I laughed as a kid when the Asian owner of the diner on Happy Days would come on. Same thing with those Calgon commercials that had the line, " My husband, here's his ancient Chinese secret, Calgon."
    Asian stereotypes much!

    I also find the Men on… skits from In Living Color to be as bad as Amos and Andy skits from my parents generation, only it stereotyped gays and not African Americans . From 25 years on, I look back and know how I changed found that I don't find funny at all.

  • btw, I assumed we were talking about Starship Troopers the movie, not the book (of which I know little). And 'satire' is probably a better word than 'parody' [of the xenophobic (and fascist) strains of white American culture].

  • Booth Tarkington, the Penrod novels. I read one when I was a child and thought it funny. A few years ago I tried reading them all and good God, are they racist.

  • @Nate–To be fair, that was Evil Bill and Evil Ted. It's right there in the name.

    Gonna second Revenge of the Nerds ("Oh, you tricked me into thinking you were my boyfriend wearing a mask so that I'd have sex with you! How clever and romantic!"). Also Animal House is pretty bad. That part in American Pie (which otherwise holds up better than most of the genre) where Jim's friends are like "Hey you should totally secretly film the woman you're having sex with and show it to people without her consent, but oh no! The whole school sees it, which is a problem only insofar as your sexual inexperience embarrassed you!" Really any teen/college sex comedy had some rapey bits that now make it unacceptable viewing.

    Likewise, "Crank" (which came out when I was old enough to be bothered by it) had that part where Jason Statham basically forces himself on his girlfriend in public and she winds up getting totally into it because that's what would happen in that situation, guys. Also in newer things, "How I Met Your Mother" always played Barney as kind of a creep but in a defensibly consensual way (e.g. he tells lots of lies to women he picks up at bars, but when one falls asleep or passes out he bails, albeit leaving her to pay the cab fare or whatever), right up until the point in the last season where he advocates "taking advantage of dumb drunk girls"–direct quote.

  • @Talisker: thanks for the link to that article. I used to play AD&D back in the early 80s and when 3rd Edition came out, I got together with some of my old buddies and we played a few games. One of them had a paladin and I was shocked at the way he would start laying into orcs, goblins, etc. with absolutely no provocation. Then I remembered that I pretty much did the same with my own paladin character back in the day :/

  • @ Robert E.:

    Re: "Starship Troopers".

    I can't find the exact quote but Jay Carr of the Boston Globe said that it was the best fascist propaganda film since Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will".

  • "Southern rock" in general and Sweet Home Alabama in particular. Lynyrd Skynyrd was the first concert I ever attended. Freebird!

  • I know too many examples to go into, no doubt. But I must also admit that I do not quite understand all the problems that are seen here.

    For starters, while Temple of Doom is certainly the worst Indiana Jones movie, I cannot quite see the problem with using stereotypes in principle. I find it hard to imagine a movie in the IJ universe that does not feed off stereotypes about exotic places, German villains, etc.; and I find it hard to imagine amusing action movies in general that do not use stereotypes to give the viewer some easily navigated background. Are only character-driven dramas that break stereotypes by showing anti-environmentalist native Americans or pacifist Mongol warriors to be considered PC? Not sure that is even necessary or necessarily effective to create a better world.

    Second, Dances with Wolves in… is another one of those tropes where your mileage may vary. To some it is "exotic people need a white guy to solve their problems", but it may also simply be "give the target audience a protagonist they can easily identify with or you won't get as many viewers". Also, the idea of a system needing an outsider's perspective to help it deal with a problem is not exactly crazy. I wouldn't say that Avatar is a great movie or anything, but I wonder if the Inca empire for example could not have used a sympathetic renegade European to point out to them that Pizarro shouldn't be trusted, what to expect of cannons, and what tactics might be useful against an armoured cavalry charge. Pity really that generally nobody like that is available IRL.

    Finally, I thought it was generally known that the Starship Troopers movie is a deliberate deconstruction of the militarist and jingoist ideology promoted in the novel? Heinlein is probably spinning in his grave whenever somebody watches the DVD, because where he argues "war turns people into responsible citizens" the movie goes "war turns people into fascists".

  • Leonard Skynnrd (however it's spelled) was, meh, .38 Special, otoh, is shit.

    I'm okay with stereotypical portrayals of racist white assholes–there's a number of them in my family.

  • I hated pretty much every western ever shown on tv. The "heroes" (all white men) had brutal disregard for their horses, the women, the Native Americans…it was horrible to watch.

    I also hate pretty much any movie Marilyn Monroe was ever in, because she's clearly so miserable in each one, it's like watching those captive bears tortured to make them perform. And also because those movies make clear that toddler-like imbecility is the best state for a woman to be in.

  • I always read Temple of Doom as a knowing parody of the Fu Manchu archetype rather than a straight-faced "Eastern mystery" sort of thing.

    Also, everyone here needs to lighten the fuck up. I'm not willing to throw out every movie made before the year 2009 because it doesn't meet today's hyper-PC bar of inclusiveness. Nobody reads Jane Austen and gasps at the portrayal of the role of women, which, progressive though it may have been at the time, is objectively a half-step up from the Bronze Age. Take work on its own terms and engage with it charitably.

  • This thread. I am completely taken by the suggestions so far, but I immediately came to (maybe?) the same conclusion as some of the later replies: How can you judge bad racist homophobic tropes that are embedded in various levels of satire? Also, the need for commercial works to attract eyeballs obviates trafficking in some broad cartoonlike generalizations. That does not equal the creators always supporting misogyny, racism, homophobia etc.. My favorite movies are deliberately offensive: Blazing Saddles, Django Unchained, Hollywood Shuffle.

  • We 70-somethings had access to the really good stuff: Disney's "Song of the South" with its Uncle Remus and Tar Baby, a Donald Duck cartoon with a "safari" of black ants, and one of them miming Stepin Fetchit, for God's sake. Two vintage comedies even before "my" time that had truly hilarious patches were marred by black-servant stereotypes, Cary Grant's "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House," and Katharine Hepburn's "Alice Adams," with Hattie McDaniel making the most of her comic persona in "Alice" and Louise Beavers doing what she could in "Blandings." Laugh and cringe at the same time, go ahead.

    But I'm happy to say as teenagers we were hip enough to mock the clumsy symbolism of "The Defiant Ones," yelling at the screen that Poitier shouldn't try to pull Tony Curtis back on the train but "let him go!"

  • David Tyree's homophobic jokes when I first heard them made me roll my eyes a little bit, now they make me cringe.

  • Bitter Scribe says:

    SeaTea: Two weirdly funny things about Hogan's Heroes:

    –The actor who played Commandant Klink was Jewish, and his family had to flee Austria. (His father was a prominent orchestra conductor.)

    –Robert Clary, who played the Frenchman, was also Jewish, and he was actually locked up in a concentration camp during the war. He regularly spoke to high school assemblies about his wartime experiences. Someone invariably asked him how, given what he had been through, he could be on a TV show that depicted Nazis as harmless clowns, and he would shrug and say eh, it was a job.

    TV Guide called Hogan's Heroes the worst show in the history of American television. There's a lot of competition, but they have a strong case.

  • All of the crap sitcoms that were on the tube from it's installation as the Cold War version the "circus" part of "Bread and Circuses" for the masses were designed to convey a sense of, "Well, at least I'm not THAT fucked up.", conciously or otherwise.

    Every time I see a re-run of "The Honeymooners" and they show the kitchen of Ralph's apartment I think to myself–WTF? The place looks worse than my house. It appears to have been deliberately made to look as shitty as urban housing could look. Walls were not just in need of paint, they looked as if they hadn't been cleaned since the Coolidge admin. Gaaaah.

    OT, but not entirely.

    I spent far too much time, while waiting for a band I wanted to photograph, sitting near a genuine p.o.s. homophobic, anti-prog, Obamahater* and a woman he was trying to impress.

    He ranted, pretty much non-stop, for well over half an hour, about how HORRIBLE it was that he had to deal with the QUEERS. He kept mentioning the term "LGBTQ" and saying something along the lines of, "Hey they want to call themselves "QUEERS", that's fine with me! The democrats want to identify with QUEERS, that's fine with me! Yadayada…".

    I had a strong desire to face-punch him a few times but:

    A.) He was somewhat shorter and seemed to be semi-hammered.

    B.) I don't like the guy who owns the place but the PBR is cheap, the food hasn't killed me, yet.

    and, most importantly I know some reasonably intelligent people and a number of interesting musicians (there's some overlap) who work or play there.

    I finally got up and walked away before it got to the point where I'd go off on the guy. The last time it happened I had to go back and apologize to the owner (different bar) and his daughter for my behaviour.

    Yeah, this prolly belongs on the previous thread.

    * Trumpligubagger. I'm never sure whether they're closer to a fistula in their new god's anal sphincter or a chancre on the Trumpianmanmeat. I'm sorta leanin' towards the sphincter, much roomier.

  • "Sixteen Candles", as others have said. I'm 44, and I can confidently say that nobody back then saw anything wrong with either the Long Duk Dong stuff or the implied rape.
    Also, as far as homophobia goes, the left should at long last come up with a strategy for addressing it when it's coming from non-white people.

  • Townsend Harris says:

    Ed cited an Indiana Jones movie from when he was eight years old.
    Children, by definition, aren't supposed to know the Indiana Jones movies are comic books turned into movies.

  • The original "King Kong" is a gold mine, and not just for the treatment of the Skull Island natives, either. Implied is that Kong eats the sacrificed black women for lunch, but the white one, for some reason, he saves and later falls in love with. MUCH too precious to eat.

    Then there's the animation: Kong rolls his eyes and mugs like a minstrel. How many in the audience "got" that on even a subconscious level? The film issues a stern warning against mixed marriages, I say, not to mention a characterization of the more "bestial" among us.

  • @anotherbozo:

    And at the end, the large, dark, scary beast gets gunned down by the forces of law, order, Truth Justice and the AMERICAN WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

  • Large swathes of the punk rock canon are now just embarrassing to me: The pity-the-poor-white-guy whining of Minor Threat's "Guilty of Being White." The homophobia in Fear's "New York's Alright" (actually, most Fear songs). The grotesque stereotypes of Africans in the New York Dolls' "Stranded in the Jungle." And I can't for the life of me figure out why Jello Biafra wrote one of the most scathing of the Dead Kennedys' songs ("California Über Alles") about Jerry Brown, of all people. Luckily I still have most of the Bad Brains catalog and MDC's "John Wayne was a Nazi."

  • I bought devoured the entire Aubrey–Maturin series, but by the end of them I was realizing that it's just two men doing man things and all the women folk are just there to be used and abused. I still have all the books, not sure I'll read them again. They were fun, well-written pulp but I don't know if there's much more to be gleaned from them.

    As a kid I enjoyed Hogan's Heroes. Got a history minor that focused on 20th century conflict… yeah, can't watch jokes about Nazi camps any more. Makes me ill.

  • Robert Walker-Smith says:

    "In The Summertime" by Mungo Jerry. "If her daddy's rich, take her out for a meal/ If her daddy's poor, just do what you feel."

    There are more than a few '60s rock/pop songs with lyrics that are now disturbing. Reminds me of a Joan Didion essay I read decades ago about how the '60s counterculture managed to retain a remarkable amount of racism and sexism from the dominant culture.

    The Heinlein that really gobsmacked me was "Farnham's Freehold". Cannibal Africans in the future!

  • Star Trek TOS, was 15 years old when that came out. Totally cool. Watched endless reruns in the 1970s every day throughout college years. Thought I would celebrate my memories when Leonard Nemoy died and purchased a set of DVDs. Found out I couldn't really watch it. Couldn't show it to my young daughters.

    Had some vague memory of Saturday Night Fever being fun. Watched it recently, oops.

    While reading so-called 'classic' literature to my daughters, Little House on the prairie, and so fourth, I find I need to alter the language as I read. Oops.

    I've discovered my 20-something colleagues at work are quite shocked at some the off-hand casual references I might make to historical (== my life time) events and language I might use while telling stories of the "good ol' days". I don't even realize it in my language until I see the shocked expressions and slack jaw response. It is like I grew up in a different world from these young whipper snappers. Or was that whippits ?

  • @Hoosier-Poli; I'm guessing you're a white straight male if you're so worried about the "hyper-PC" atmosphere these days. When the POTUS brags about "grabbing women by the p***y" and the majority of white people vote for him, that's a huge sign our country is not PC (which after all, is just short for "showing basic human courtesy"). It's telling that straight white men who have always had the lion's share are the most tetchy and threatened about the whole notion of acting like a decent human being.

    @Robert and Berkeley; the "Era of Free Love" was shockingly racist and sexist; there are a number of memoirs written by women who lived through that time that shine a better light on that than I could in a comments section. Not much has changed, either, if the stories from Burning Man are accurate. A number of instructors and students from the yoga studio I attend have gone, and come back with stories about white male dude-bros who assume any woman attending is there to give them free sex on demand, and the woman's actual interest in doing so is irrelevant to them.

  • @Berkeley; I loved the Little House books when I was young and even watched the melodramatic series on tv (Pa cries in every episode). When I tried to read the books to my own kids, however, I saw them through an adult's perspective. Pa was actually quite a jerk–not the farmer he thought he was, irresponsible (uprooting the family for what looked to be complete whim), cruel to animals (made the dog swim a raging river rather than allow him into the wagon). Ma wasn't much better–not only was she an insufferable prig, but in the later book where Laura is married and expecting her first baby and nearly dies, Ma's attitude is a shocking "you play, you PAY". If you're ever bored and on the Internet you'll see a lot of people have put a lot of time into this family. For example, there's some compelling evidence that Little Sister Carrie was always so frail and week because she was malnourished most of her life.

  • I admit to being an idiot and unconciously (in most cases) sexist. It was a while before I got out of the, "women, because" mentality. I still have to remind myself, sometimes, that I'm exactly equal as a person, to everyone else.

    I spend a fair amount (too much?) of time in bars. I see a lot of young people, many of them college students, who do some exceedingly nasty things to one another, 'cuz it's cool or something? I don't generally get my oar in–I have no business doing so, as rule–unless someone is in danger. I do wonder, a lot, about what makes young people dress for "spring break" in Oswego, in February. It is NOT t-shirt and shorts weather–even if you're driving.

    I see a lot of young women, some shockingly pretty, others not, dressed in what look like long, black tube tops. They wear ridiculous spike heels on icy sidewalks, often going hatless and coatless in cold and snowy weather. I don't get it. I don't think "Stupid sluts" or that, as one young feller put it, "Hos don't get cold!". I think, "Fucking peer pressure.". It's not just young women dressing inappropriately or young people in general getting ridiculously drunk. It is pretty obvious, to me at least, that all of the decades since 1970 have had champions for the rights of people but they have been trying to surf up the Niagra Falls of asshole entitlement.

    Teach kids anything you want to in classrooms; when they go home or hit the streets they pick up, very quickly, whatever the real vibe is. If it's intolerance and self-gratification, guess where they're headed.

  • I was 38 a quarter century ago. Most of these posts vindicate my choice to ignore much of pop-"culture" in that span. We watched an old Star Trek last night which stuck us as vapid and sexist, but was a reminder that maybe our collective awareness is moving in a positive direction, current retrograde not withstanding. Yes, the womanizing meme of "Mash" was tiresome even at the time, but we watched most (or all) of"All In The Family" last year and were struck that every single topic was current today. We haven't solved the problems but the point of view is main stream rather than edgy.
    As for "Money for Nothing", don't confuse persona with author. I recall at the time then hip radio station WEBN dubbed "that little 'froggy' is a millionaire",playing on their running joke of Tree Frog Beer.
    We can find unintened humor in "Mr. Blandings" racism because we're coming from a different place. I like to believe that humans have made progress in the course of my lifetime, but there's always more consciousness to be raised, beginning with our selves.

  • @Democommie; I have an undergrad daughter and we've spoken a lot about the peer pressure in clothing and behavior. In my day, it was tank tops/camisoles and miniskirts to the clubs–but not so much the stiletto heels. To be popular, a girl also had to seem "dizzy" and slow on the uptake. It seems to me that women are socialized to be utterly defenseless–not only does the popular girl need to be dressed in completely useless and often utterly unsuitable (like tube dresses in February) attire with teetering heels, but she's also expected to be 20 pounds underweight, burdened with a high-maintenance hair-skin-nails regimen, and stupid as a plank.

    What is it about a competent woman that terrifies men so?

  • "What is it about a competent woman that terrifies men so?"

    For many men; everything?

    For me? that they will see right through me ans realize that I'm telling them the truth when I say, "I got nothin','cept my charm.".

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    No clue. I had a colleague who had a Ph.D. from Stanford and a B.A. from Harvard, worked as a software engineer, and was pretty, athletic, and incredibly nice and down to earth. Were we not both married, I would have been delighted to date her. Of course I can't be sure she would have felt the same way, but there would have been only one way to find out, and I would have availed myself of it without hesitation. And did I mention that the baklava she made from scratch and brought to the company Christmas party was far and way the best I've ever had?

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    "I'm gonna keep on lovin' you, 'cause it's the only thing I want to do" is a bit OCD but hardly sexist. :-)

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    @democommie: If your charm is not enough for them, they don't deserve you. My wife makes a good living and was doing just fine as a single woman before we met. I'm actually blown away by how many of my male colleagues support a wife and several children on wages I have to assume are similar to my own (plenty for a single person or half a DINK, not so much for a family of five in the Bay Area). Obviously if my wife lost her job and couldn't find another I'd support her the best I could, but I wouldn't want to enter into a relationship like that on purpose.

  • Robert Mcneilly says:

    The superman tv show . Truth, justice and the american way.
    No truth no justice and the american way is geniside and slavery.
    Superman caught bank robbers but never bankers.

  • I saw REO Speedwagon back in 1979 when they were still a rock band and they were pretty good.

    I saw them again a year or two later after they'd gone pop and though they were awful.

    That being said, their pop stuff was commercially much more successful and I guess they had to pay the bills.

  • J. Geils Band; Angel is a Centerfold. Guy gets all bent out of shape and his fee-fees hurt because the woman he wanked off to in high school turns up in a porno mag, that slutty mcslut-slut, thinking she has any say over her own sexuality.

    @Andrew Lawrence; teenage girls in the 1980s thought the song Keep On Loving You was romantic (at least the teenage girls I hung around with did). Also re: achievement; a mentor told me in my very first serious job that a woman would have to be three times as good as a man to be considered half as good by her boss. I guess we've made progress; it's down to about twice as good to be considered half as good. I saw Hidden Figures and realized how very little has changed in the workforce.

    @democommie; don't be so hard on yourself. Most women are thrilled to have a guy who doesn't stalk them/expect them to be their mommy/leech off them/cheat on them.

    @Andrew again, as a woman in IT who did a stint near Silly Valley for work, I say this: a lot of IT guys think it's a major trophy/humblebrag to have wifey at home awaiting their every command and driving the kids around to an endless stream of extracurricular activities.

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    @Katydid: The guy I'm thinking of is an observant Muslim from Pakistan, so
    it may be cultural, but the other guys I've worked with who have stay-home wives in the 21st century were not Muslim. Most of them were churchgoing Christians, though. It seems religious conservatism doesn't care which religion. No surprise.

  • Welp, some of y'all (that's a tell) have mentioned Lynyrd Skynyrd, who were pretty upfront about flyin' the Stars 'n' Bars before they all (or most of 'em) went down in '77, but worse maybe (as it was almost ten years later) was Tom Petty, who made the Rebel Flag a big part of his Southern Accents tour in I dunno, '85? I was a (young, but still) adult at the time and I was all "fuck yeah!" which y'know, shoulda known better. I was under NO ILLUSIONS about the horrors of slavery and certainly have never been one of those romantic lost cause Southerners, but I never thought about the Confederate Flag as a symbol (THE symbol FFS) of organized racism in this country (particularly in the part of the country where I grew up) until WAY past the time it should have been stunningly obvious. The only excuse I can offer is that the Civil Rights era had died down a bit by the time I was in school, and that stuff was NOT taught. (Since Ed mentioned Maus the other day, I'd like to counter with John Lewis' March GN; I learned a lot of stuff I should have already known.) Petty has since apologized, but Jesus, I'm STILL amazed that he (and I!) could just think nothing of waving (not literally in my case, very much so in his) that fucking hateful flag. What the FUCK were we thinking??

  • "Most women are thrilled to have a guy who doesn't stalk them/expect them to be their mommy/leech off them/cheat on them."

    I honestly don't know what my REAL negatives are but those four items are not. Regardless, the four women I've lived with all thought I was a gem in the rough until they figured out it was ALL rought.

    My little hairy roommate loves me though, so long as I get his dish filled and make some biscuits every week.

  • Pretty in Pink says:

    Like the other '80s kids on this thread, it's Sixteen Candles. Long Duk Dong played for laughs, plus there is a scene where the alpha male basically tosses the keys to his girlfriend over to the beta male. He might actually say, "She's passed out, so I'm doing you a favor." Ick.

    Watching Gilmore Girls again, and even that liberal love fest has its issues. Lots of "Lezzie Lorelai" type jokes that seem not as funny this time around. If I laughed before….

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    The misanthropic '90s zine subculture was a HUGE influence on me. It's hard to reminiscene on it now without seeing certain precursors to this current round of right-wing angry-boy chic.

  • Robert Walker-Smith says:

    I ran a D&D campaign for about eight years, with a multiracial group of gay male players. I fiddled with the established racial issues in a variety of ways, which nobody minded. Elves and Dwarves got along swimmingly and non-humans could advance in level and class at will. Even threw in an orcish society built around commerce instead of warfare.

    HoosierPoli – I will 'lighten the fuck up' when you are as likely to be shot dead by police as my two teenage sons, and not a Goddamned day earlier. Culture informs society as society informs culture, and ignoring that is a privilege I cannot yet afford.

  • @Democommie; I'm glad you have a furry friend.

    @EmersonDameron; the only zines I read in the 1990s (early 1990s, at that) were Star Trek and Star Wars zines. What were the other ones?

  • @ Emrson Dameron:

    I'm pretty sure that PMR* goes back to the first neolithic machohunterdude who saw his smaller, upper body weaker, babymakin'machine chattel take down a mammoth by panicking it into running over a cliff instead of being an idiot and attacking it frontally with a long, flint tipped stick.

    Just sayin', those fucking idiots of the NEW KKKonservative movement get their ladyhate from something much stronger than magazies–it's the Wholly Babble and the twisted fucks who "interpret" it.

    * Privileged Male Rage

  • @anori RE: "Also, as far as homophobia goes, the left should at long last come up with a strategy for addressing it when it's coming from non-white people."

    The problem with that is that it fouls up the robotic "It's Bad/Okay If" logic that much of the current progressive culture is based upon. For as long as so-called progressives insist on seeing people as Groups First, Individuals Second, it is impossible to address such a situation in anything resembling a consistent manner.

    It's near-impossible to meaningfully criticize DMX's anti-gay lyrics if you firmly believe that criticizing a black man is itself a sin. Because DMX is A Black Man long before he is A Jerk That Writes Lyrics About Killing People And Hating Gays.

    There should not need to be a "strategy for addressing it when it's coming from non-white people". The strategy should be "address it, regardless of the author, because one's race/gender/sexuality/creed/etc. has nothing to do with their actions as an individual and does not factor in to how one judges them". Either you're homophobic or you're not, and the color of your skin has no bearing on that and SHOULDN'T have any bearing on how firmly your feet are held to the fire on it by people who claim to be interested in social justice.

  • @GunstarGreen:

    Yes and no. {;>).

    Seriously, I agree that actions are not tempered by who's acting. I do think that all sorts of factors converge in our minds to cause us to think the way we do. Race, religion, tribe, ethnicity and all sorts of other categorizations get in the way of condemnation of bad acts and also praise fo the good acts.

    I'm not making an excuse for "It's OK, if…" rationalization. Otoh, I will try to listen to the "why" of someone's reasoning, if presented by them, to determine whether they're ignorant of the truth, delusional or simply being a hateful "ist" of some sort.

    PC is bad when it is anything other than simply treating ALL people like they have the same intrinsic human value–regardless left, right or whatever slant is on it.

  • I cut Temple of Doom a little slack for the racism, the "exotic Oriental villain" has been a trope in pulp fiction going way back, and IJ movies are supposed to be nostalgia fests. That said, it's horrible in so many other ways that I've only watched it once.

    @ Andy: In "Money for Nothing"'s homophobic lyrics, Knopfler is quoting some blue-collar types who are bitching about how easy pop musicians have it. I see it as a critique of those attitudes, not an expression of his own homophobia. YMMV, and I can't really listen to it anymore as it's one of the most overplayed songs in the history of civilization.

  • I think that my favorite gay movie moment in a lot of years was Terence Stamp, one of the drag queens in "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" punching out the guy who was picking on (attempting to sexually assault, iirc) the youngest member of the trio. Of course I knew that he was, in reality, General Zod, Superman's arch nemesis (1 or 2 or maybe 6?) and I was just surprised he didn't punch the guy right through his truck.

    I was much more surprised to realize a while back that Mr. Smith from "The Matrix" and the Elven King from the Rings, Hugo Weaving was also in Priscialla, along with Guy Pearce.

    I would watch that film again, and turn up the ABBA and BeeGees even though I never listen to that music at home.

  • @democommie (& Alex SL & Mostly Lurking)

    I can't tell from your paraphrase whether Jay Carr missed the satirical intent of Starship Troopers, or got it but felt that the parody was backfiring. It certainly wasn't as in-your-face as Robocop's satire of consumerism and crime porn. Maybe there's a lesson there on how to critique the latest fascist fashions.

    Anyway, another piece on Verhoeven's intentions, suggesting that the main target was fascism in Hollywood action movies [which I suppose are the modern version of the pulp novels of Heinlein's day]:

  • Oy, I Dream of Jeannie…although they did make Larry Hagman look the fool occasionally. The whole "Master" thing…No women at NASA (although know we know better, i.e. Hidden Figures)

  • @ robert e:

    I read the review in the Globe, back when I was living in Boston. Carr was usually pretty perceptive and I doubt that he missed the subtler aspects. I disagreed with his reviews in many cases but I never felt that he was being a jerk about things. I saw the movie (long after giving up on Heinlein's writing–it was really strange after "Stranger in a Strange Land") shortly after it was released and didn't miss any of the jingofascistic claptrap–a number of other people who saw it acted as if the Bugs had actually destroyed Buenos Aires.

  • Yeah, the entire song "Money for Nothing" is written in the voice of the appliance delivery guy, who considers showbiz people weirdos, queers, etc. Dire Straits wasn't endorsing his attitude.

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