“I’m not a fag. I’m a werewolf.”-Scott Howard, Teen Wolf
As America’s Cultural Revolution continues to accelerate, what is in the liberal parlance “not okay” is expanding accordingly. Thus, what was seemingly innocuous thirty years ago (or twenty, or ten) is suddenly Nazism incarnate “because it’s 2018.” Elena Nicolaou writes:
The other day, I sat down to watch The Office, a comedy I had loved so madly for years and years of my life. Instead of laughing at Michael Scott’s (Steve Carrell) exaggerated antics, though, I found myself cringing. During one of his stunts, Michael outed his colleague, Oscar (Oscar Martinez). The entire scene seemed like bullying and workplace harassment, not like humor. And yet: I knew, at one point in my life, I had thought this entire scene was funny — cringe-worthy, yes, but ultimately worthy of laughter. One of the side-effects of being a “woke” millennial is that I can’t consume entertainment the way I did back in, say, 2007. Storylines that I once completely glossed over now come off as offensive or shocking.
As I like to joke, proclaiming oneself “liberal” is enough to seize the moral high-ground—no facts or justification needed. To paraphrase Mark Steyn, in other words, simply because it’s “Justin Trudeau’s 2018,” the entertainment and attitudes and general zeitgeist of years past are “offensive” and “shocking.” With that in mind, here are ten films from the terribly outmoded, racist, sexist 1980s that could not be released in today’s hyper-sensitive and censorious climate:
10. Weird Science (1985)
The eugenic undertones make this film highly problematic, especially as it idealizes traditional Western beauty standards in the form of the “perfect” Lisa (played by Kelly LeBrock). As the ultimate embodiment of the “male gaze,” the film objectifies women by framing them as at the height of desirability when they are products of the male mind (personified in the form of Lisa), as literal creations of men (and white men at that). Furthermore, The Guardian tabbed Weird Science on its list of “the worst of 80s movie racism” because of its use of the trope, “Scary black people who teach white kids about real life.” Incidentally they also found several other movies on this list objectionable, so I am clearly on to something.
9. Highlander (1986)
The protagonist is motivated by both honor and a healthy, natural love for a mortal woman; in order to attain The Prize, MacLeod must vanquish all of the other Immortals. The entire premise of the film rests on Eurocentric, hyper-masculine, and hierarchical structures, all of which are highly problematic. Sean Connery also manages to culturally appropriate three cultures at once for his role as the ancient Egyptian with a Spanish name and katana. Lets not even get into how all Sean Connery movies should be burned on general principle.
8. Sixteen Candles (1984)
“Sixteen Candles is racist and sexist—and needs to be retired,” Sara Stewart writes. After condemning the film’s supposed support for date rape, Stewart continues:
The racism and sexism in Hughes’ movie is so over the top, I have to hope any teens watching it today would view it as a shocking, old-timey artifact. Perhaps most glaringly, there’s Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe), the Chinese foreign exchange student whose every mention is accompanied by the sound of a gong… Gather round, kiddies, and check out how rape and racism used to be hilarious punch lines.
Also, as Cat LaFuente points out, “Mike, Sam’s brother, is a misogynist” for threatening to beat her, and openly discussing both his sister Ginny’s period with their father and Sam’s “breast-growing” diet of carrots. Plus, “there are LGBT slurs” and “intoxicated women are comedy fodder.” This is all “disturbing.”
7. Rocky IV (1985)
This film is strongly nationalistic and demonizes communism; its saving grace for the Left is that the Aryan Ivan Drago is defeated and his Aryan wife Ludmilla Drago is disgraced, but this alone cannot atone for Rocky, as the physical embodiment of the United States’ “rugged individualism” triumphing over the Bolsheviks’ brain-child in the USSR. That Rocky is able to win over the hostile Soviet crowd foreshadowed the Western democracies’ ultimate toppling of the Soviet regime, and naively supposed that, like contact theory, capitalism was so self-evidently superior that simply being exposed to some luxury goods would be enough to sway the hundreds of millions of people trapped behind the Iron Curtain. Ask the former Soviet states who are now members of the EU today how they feel about life under the thumb of the new Soviet Union in the form of the European Union.
6. The Karate Kid (1984)
Daniel-san’s cultural appropriation is simply unforgivable, and the film relies on racist stereotypes of Japanese people and Japanese culture. The performativity of whiteness in the film is excruciating, but it is made that much worse by the appropriation of Daniel-san and the white Cobra Kai of alternate identities stolen from the Japanese people, a kind of “yellowface.” The worst moment is when Daniel-san is given a yellow car for his birthday from Mr. Miyagi (played by Pat Morita, who is reduced to nothing more than a caricature), which is supposed to symbolize Daniel-san’s metamorphosis, but reads like the commodification of Japanese culture which the film clearly is.
5. Commando (1985)
This film is toxic masculinity incarnate, including an alpha male muscular white father who loves his daughter and would do anything to get her back safely, including resorting to—gasp!—violence. Since John Matrix is not punching Nazis, and never declares Allyship, his actions can only serve to reinforce the lethal toxicity of hetero-patriarchal normativity. He uses a saw blade to kill an ethnic minority in cold blood, drops the only Jewish character in the movie off a cliff, and gay-bashes the Freddy Mercury-esque antagonist to death with a metal pipe. What the hell is wrong with you, white people?
4. Gremlins (1984)
As both a critique of consumerism and a thinly-veiled expression of a “fear of a black planet,” Gremlins was already in flagrant violation of neo-liberal apologism, but you can interpret it another way, as a critique of mass Third World immigration.
Special mention for the racist wise old Chinese guy stereotype, and the fact that -yet again- the only black character in the movie dies first. Tsch.
3. Soul Man (1986)
C. Thomas Howell in blackface in a film that lampoons Affirmative Action? Today’s cultural commissars would find this highly objectionable; grounds for execution in fact. According to The Guardian:
Stupid ethnic stereotypes ensue, all with a white actor in blackface for an entire movie. Perhaps the weirdest thing about Soul Man isn’t that it was made at all, but that the black female lead, Rae Dawn Chong, ended up marrying Howell.
Alas, it was another age. As Howell’s character Mark explains: “This is the 80s, man. This is the Cosby decade. America loves Black people.”
Soul Man tagline: “He didn't get up, he got down.” At one point, while still “black,” after Mark has sex with a white girl, she contentedly sighs, “I could feel 400 years of oppression and anger in every pelvic thrust”—which, according to Jason Concepsion, was “spoken in a scene that is probably rape since the reasons for the woman’s consent aren’t true.”
The NAACP denounced the film as “racist,” and we should never question an organization with “Colored People” in its very name when it comes to leveling accusations of racism, right folks? Female lead Rae Dawn Chong stated in an interview:
I always tried to be an actor who was doing a part that was a character versus what I call ‘blackting,’ or playing my race, because I knew that I would fail because I was mixed. I was the black actor for sure, but I didn’t lead with my epidermis, and that offended people like Spike Lee, I think. You’re either militant or you’re not and he decided to just attack. I’ve never forgiven him for that because it really hurt me. I didn’t realize [at the time] that not pushing the afro-centric agenda was going to bite me. When you start to do well people start to say you’re a Tom [as in Uncle Tom] because you’re acceptable.
2. Baby Boom (1987)
Single motherhood is only to be venerated, not used as a source of comedy. Plus, a white baby? Yuck. Surely it should be an adopted baby from the Congo or Thailand instead. In any event, everyone knows that white children are literally destroying the planet and the one chance of redemption this movie might have had comes in the form of a burqa-clad muslima would-be nanny, who promises to teach the protagonist's child how to properly respect a man. She is rejected without a second thought, clearly betraying not just the racism of this movie, but the Islamophobia that is as endemic in Western culture as female genital mutilation is in Birmingham, England.
1. They Live (1988)
This film is very obviously a metaphor for the JQ. As Anna Gaca writes:
They Live has long attracted questionable alternative readings from people like Holocaust denier Michael A. Hoffman (who believes the leaders of the New World Order are intentionally revealing themselves via action movies) and conservative radio host and “internationally recognized prophecy expert” Paul McGuire (who connects the film to Nazis and “vibrational energy”). As Gizmodo points out, Stormfront posters were raving about the supposed anti-Semitism in They Live way back in 2008. More recently, semi-anonymous YouTube conspiracists are posting clips with titles like “THEY LIVE IS ABOUT THE JEWS 100% PROOF.” The creator of that clip [Now deleted by YouTube- Ed] is particularly fixated on the fact that two key scenes in They Live take place in a bank (where Piper delivers the bubblegum line) and at a television station—because this, to the online neo-Nazi, represents “proof” of Jewish control of finance and media.
When Rowdy Roddy Piper’s character John Nada dons his Hoffman lenses, he is able to peel away the ersatz veneer of his perception to see the true reality underneath, and that is of an alien race colonizing the planet and enslaving humans in a never-ending cycle of consumption and rampant capitalism via their control of entertainment, advertising, media, government, and finance, and the small alien minority have successfully blended in by “passing” as human.
OBEY. SUBMIT. CONSUME. NO INDEPENDENT THOUGHT.
TOLERANCE. DIVERSITY. INCLUSION. LABOR SHORTAGE.
RESIST. RESIST. RESIST. “ORANGE MAN BAD!”