Things just aren’t the way they used to be, and most of the time that’s a good thing. Despite all the world’s problems we have undoubtedly become more civilized in recent decades. It was only 50 years ago that blacks were struggling for basic rights, and today things are better. The same goes for women’s rights and the rights of the gay community. Now it is time for the transgender community to finally start getting the rights and equal treatment they are entitled to.
Of course, things are far from perfect and there are still too many problems, but racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia are dying out. This change in the way we treat others to the basic human decency they deserve has affected not only society, but pop culture as well. When television was in its infancy, the Honeymooners most famous ongoing gag was about spousal abuse. Today, that kind of stuff is not acceptable. There are many movies from Hollywood’s past that simply wouldn’t be made today. The characters, plot points and jokes in many movies would simply be too inappropriate by today’s standards.
It’s not just our changing sensibilities that have affected cinema over the years. There was a time when kids movies could get away with a lot more than they could today. Many 80s and 90s films simply wouldn’t be suitable for kids today because film ratings have gotten much stricter. There are many classic family movies that by today’s standards would come off as nightmare-inducing, or simply too scary. Many of these films are highly praised and considered classics, but time has made them outdated and out of touch. If any of these movies were released today there would be a lot of outrage.
10. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
The movie that made Jim Carrey a star, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was a huge hit and is considered a classic comedy by many. Unfortunately, it is also extremely transphobic. The villain of the piece is a shamed former football player who turns out is actually transgender.
Sean Young plays Lois Einhorn, who was formally Ray Finkle – a disgraced Miami Dolphins kicker who cost the team the Super Bowl. Einhorn blamed her mistake in the big game on Dan Marino failing to put the laces out on the football. So, she was out to sabotage the Miami Dolphins by stealing the team’s beloved bottlenose dolphin mascot named snowflake.
The finale of the movie involves Ace Ventura stripping her almost naked and discovering her penis. When he realizes that Einhorn used to be Ray Finkle, Ventura spent minutes vomiting as the two had made out earlier in the film. There’s no denying Ace Venture: Pet Detective is transphobic, so perhaps you should watch the sequel Ace Venture: When Nature Calls – it’s a much better movie anyway. OK, the sequel’s a little racist, but it’s practically harmless compared to the original.
9. Blazing Saddles
It’s one of Mel Brooks‘ finest works, but there is no way something like this would ever be made today. Despite being considered by many to be the greatest comedy film of all time, this satirical western starring Gene Wilder is clearly a film that could only be made during the turbulent times of the 1970s.
Yes, it is a satire of racism, and it clearly portrays the racist characters in the movie as idiots. However, even though it satirizes racism, it is still extremely politically incorrect by today’s standards. Many movies still use the “n-word” today, but the sheer amount of times this racial slur is uttered in Blazing Saddles just might be a record.
When Tim Burton remakes this movie in the next few years, it’s very likely the racism will be cut out of the new version. It is perhaps one of the most beloved Disney animated classics of all time, and many would rank it right up there with the Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Disney’s other finest masterpieces.
There is no denying though that the crows in this movie are racist and a product of the turbulent 1940s when this movie was made. The crows in Dumbo are undoubtedly some of the most racist characters in any Disney film. By 1940s standards, they would be fairly harmless, but today we can see how inappropriate these characters are. The leader of the groups of crows is called Jim Crow, and the actors who voiced the crows were all white and doing highly stereotypical black voices.
7. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Mickey Rooney’s infamous yellowface routine in this classic film seems like it would be offensive even by 1960s standards, let alone today. It’s so over the top and ridiculous you can’t help but wonder what the heck the filmmakers were thinking when they allowed something this offensive to show up on screen.
Rooney sported buck teeth and had his eyelids taped so he would look Japanese.
The character of Mr. I.Y. Yunioshi is seen as extremely offensive, and since the movie was released, objection to the racist character has grown exponentially. There are regularly protests when the movie is screened, and film criticism of Breakfast at Tiffany’s generally avoids discussion of the film’s racist low point.
6. White Chicks
Somehow blackface is completely wrong, yet whiteface is totally acceptable. White Chicks isn’t even that old of a movie, which makes things that much more shocking. The film came out a mere 10 years ago. While blackface or whiteface is certainly in poor taste, it can be funny if done in proper context, but it’s certainly rare. Dave Chappelle did whiteface and it worked. Sarah Silverman did blackface on the Sarah Silverman Program and it worked. White Chicks on the other hand is so unbelievably trashy and puerile that the whiteface routine the Wayons brother do in the film comes off as incredibly offensive.
Of course, they got away with it because Caucasians are rarely thought of as a race that someone could be racist towards, but White Chicks proves that racism towards white people exists and that in this case it’s not funny. Not only is this film racist, but it sucks, too. Now the Wayons have taken to Twitter to try and build a fanbase for a sequel they want to make. Luckily this probably won’t happen because people simply don’t put up with the combination of unfunny and offensive anymore.
5. All Dogs Go to Heaven
The notion of heaven and hell is probably something that wouldn’t fly in a children’s movie today. This classic Don Bluth animated film touches on the subject of death, and by all accounts is probably something that is far too dark for kids today.
While we see plenty of animated children’s films today that have deep emotional plots (just about any Pixar film comes to mind), what we don’t see is a children’s cartoon that focuses primarily on the after life. All Dogs Go to Heaven also features scenes involving gangsters, thievery, gambling and burlesque shows. The fact that it’s cartoon animals engaging in this debauchery doesn’t make it any less frightening for children.
4. Watership Down
Here we have another classic children’s movie that is simply way too dark, perhaps even for the time it was made. This 1970s film was made way before animation was seen as anything other than kid’s stuff. So, despite its dark tone many thought it was an appropriate thing for young children to watch.
Today violence in animation is quite common and seen in numerous Japanese anime films and of course video games, but for the most part these things are not marketed toward very young children. Perhaps children are more desensitized to violence today, but when Watership Down was released, few were prepared for the haunting nature of cute and cuddly rabbits covered in blood and being ripped apart and killed. Show this cartoon to any kid today and they will probably have nightmares – even if they play Call of Duty regularly. A movie like this with a child demographic probably wouldn’t be green lit by any movie studio today.
3. Secret of Nimh
This classic children’s film about lab rats that escape to form their own society might be too much for today’s kids to handle. When a movie meant for children features scenes akin to torture, you might want to rethink it as a suitable viewing option for your kids.
Graphic violence and scenes of terror can be offensive to many people, but when this kind of thing is shown in a children’s movie, it becomes a heated debate as to whether the movie is appropriate or not. Even for 80s kids this film might be too much to handle. Today’s animated kids movies are much more watered down for the most part – they are often not nearly as serious or graphically violent as the dark fantasy film Secret of Nimh.
2. You Only Live Twice
One can’t help but laugh at the sheer stupidity and outright racism of this movie. Perhaps one of the most ridiculous scenarios James Bond has ever found himself in happens in this movie. Sean Connery as a Japanese man? This movie is all sorts of offensive.
Granted, it may have been one of the most positive portrayals of Japan at the time, but seeing as how it came out just over 20 years after WWII, that’s not saying much. James Bond’s surgery to look more Japanese is the most racist thing to ever happen in any 007 film. Bond’s Japanese makeover is not only un-PC, it’s just plain stupid. You Only Live Twice is also sexist, but then again a lot of classic Bond films are.
1. Song of the South
The famous zip a dee do dah, zip a dee day song that Uncle Remus sings in this Disney film is something probably all of us have heard. The song even won best song at the 1947 Academy Awards. Disney is so ashamed of Song of the South that it was never even released on any form of home video.
The film’s nonchalant attitude towards slavery isn’t just seen as offensive today. Even when it was released many critics found it to be racist and offensive. Even Roger Ebert was in favor of the film never being released on home video. However, he did feel that film students should have access to the film.