Like all forms of art and entertainment, popular films have the power to bring us together - and the power to push us apart. In many cases, the extreme content of popular films - violence, profanity and sex - have rendered them difficult to stomach for a good portion of the viewing public. Other films, from Birth of A Nation to Passion of the Christ, have been criticized for pushing a message of racism and intolerance. Others still have faced some intense criticism for historical inaccuracy, misrepresentations and blasphemy.
In some cases, the aforementioned films have been treated more favorably in hindsight than upon release; some have even been cited as highly influential. In others, modern society’s more progressive values have generated more intense criticism of the films content or message. And in many cases, the filmmakers were simply trying to goad their audiences - presenting a story or image so thoroughly revolting that it tests the boundaries of art and taste itself.
15 South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut
14 Fight Club
13 The Passion of the Christ
11 The Patriot
10 The Human Centipede
9 The Deer Hunter
8 Brokeback Mountain
7 Natural Born Killers
6 A Clockwork Orange
5 The Last House on the Left
4 The Last Temptation of the Christ
3 I Spit on Your Grave
2 Deep Throat
1 Birth of a Nation
This 1915 silent epic drama film became the first controversial film in history. Based on a novel The Clansman by Thomas Dixon Jr., the film gloried the Ku Klux Klan as a heroic force. Meanwhile, the movie’s black men - often portrayed by white actors in blackface - are presented as unintelligent and aggressive toward white women. Though the film was a commercial success, it resulted in widespread protests by African Americans and even rioting. It has since been blasted as one of the most racist films of all time.
Interestingly, black actor and director Nate Parker reclaimed the title earlier this year when he presented his own Birth of a Nation at the Sundance Film Festival. Parker’s film portrays the bloody slave uprising led by Nat Turner - itself a controversial subject, though a far cry from the subject and message of the original.
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