Some movies seem like they’re perfectly normal upon release. They’re signs of the times. However, looking back at classic movies, we often find they’re much more offensive than we remembered. Here’s the top 10 classic movies that are way more offensive than you realized when you first watched them.
Don’t forget to check out other lists throughout Thought for Your Penny.
10. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) 46% on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: Tom Shadyac
Starring: Jim Carrey, Courteney Cox, Sean Young
It’s a goofy movie filled with slapstick physical comedy by Carrey. The mystery that drives the entire movie is figuring out who kidnapped the Miami Dolphins mascot. It’s assumed to be Ray Finkle, a kicker who blew an easy field goal to cost the team a big win. But he can’t be found…because he had a sex change, a revelation that disgusts every man on the police force while The Crying Game plays in the background.
9. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999) 55% on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: George Lucas
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman
All Star Wars movies are super offensive. Every alien race is based on human civilizations, because Lucas and co couldn’t be bothered with originality. Episode I takes the cake because it was made at the end of the 20th century, when we were supposedly “woke.” Jar Jar is a black caricature, the Trade Federation are clearly east Asian, and Anakin is racing for a terrible Jewish stereotype. Star Wars needs to die already.
8. Sixteen Candles (1984) 86% on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: John Hughes
Starring: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Justin Henry
Gedde Watanabe’s entire career throughout the 80s and 90s is among the most offensive reminders of how bad those eras truly were. He’s the worst kind of Asian stereotype, and it’s hard to not agree with people like Kim Jong Un’s assessments of our country. The man’s name is Long Duk Dong in this movie. And check him out in UHF, and a variety of other movies and TV shows. SMH Hollywood…
7. Dumbo (1941) 97% on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: Samuel Armstrong, Norman Ferguson
Starring: Sterling Holloway, Edward Brophy, James Baskett
Disney cartoons have a long history of being super racist. That’s because they catered to the masses, and the masses have always been intolerable in this country. Dumbo features a few black crows (one of which is named Jim Crow, after the segregation law). These crows are jive-talking and represent just about every racist stereotype you can imagine against black Americans.
6. Falling Down (1993) 72% on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey
Throughout the entirety of this movie, we’re following William Foster, an unemployed Caucasian defense contractor, on a rampage through L.A. He encounters nothing but stereotypes on his way, from Mexican gang members to Korean store owners, and more. All of which are attacking him for no reason. At this point, you’ll half expect him to pick up a tiki torch and start marching with the rest of the white supremacists.
5. The Toy (1982) 11% on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: Richard Donner
Starring: Richard Pryor, Jackie Gleason, Ned Beatty
Everything about this movie is wrong. Jack Brown is a black reporter who can’t find work at the papers, so he becomes a janitor. Soon he’s employed as a human toy for a rich child. THe more humiliating it gets, the more money he’s offered. This is a must-see movie because it speaks not only to racism, but classism as well.
4. Jingle All the Way (1996) 16% on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: Brian Levant
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman
Two fathers vow to get a Turbo Man action figure for their children. Two men are willing to do whatever it takes to make their kids happy, including breaking the laws. However, the black man is a villain throughout the entire movie, while the white man is simply a good dad. Way to be racist on Christmas.
3. Song of the South (1946) 60% on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: Wilfred Jackson, Harve Foster
Starring: Ruth Warrick, Bobby Driscoll, James Baskett
While “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” has an Academy Award for best song (and it’s one we all recognize), everything about this movie is ultra racist. Uncle Remus is a black sharecropper on a post-Civil War Georgia plantation telling stories to a young white boy about the Br’er Rabbit. It’s so cringe-worthy that Disney has been trying to delete it from our memories like Kevin Spacey. But it’s important we remember this is what the world was like not that long ago.
2. Soul Man (1986) 14% on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: Steve Miner
Starring: C. Thomas Howell, Rae Dawn Chong, Arye Gross
A white kid isn’t able to get into Harvard nor afford paying for it. So he does the only sensible thing – he paints himself in black face to obtain a minority scholarship. This movie has a special place in my heart because I actually went to college on a full-ride minority scholarship without having to do any of this. However in Soul Man you get to watch this kid jive talk his way through every black stereotype on the planet.
1. Gone with the Wind (1939) 93% on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: Victor Fleming, George Cukor
Starring: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell
It’s near the top of every pretentious film critic’s list of best movies ever made. However, Gone with the Wind is the most racist movie ever made too. It’s set during the Civil War and Reconstructionist Era, but focuses entirely on the white experience of those times. The romanticized view of slavery is still shared by people during Netflix’s Chelsea Does Racism documentary. It’s a reminder of how little diversity there is in Hollywood.