The eighties were a great time to be a kid. You could be out of your house for a whole day, who knows where, and it wasn’t a big deal. The distances I traveled on my bike without adult supervision would be unthinkable today. I’m sure most of the time I had a destination and plan, but there were certainly plenty of times I just “went out” and eventually came back safe and sound.
Even those times indoors seemed better. Sure, our video games were plagued by 8-bit graphics, but they were still awesome. And the movies were gloriously offensive even though we probably didn’t realize it at the time. Nowadays, with “microaggressions” and liberal snowflakes desperate to be offended by something, it’s like I’m seeing my childhood getting torn to shreds. Think about it, have you ever watched a movie from your past and thought, “They couldn’t make that today!” or “That scene just couldn’t be done anymore.” Heck, a movie a mere ten years old now would likely be “unmakeable” now due to current woke standards. Sadly, we can’t simply acknowledge that these movies are just accurate reflections of the attitudes of the era and leave it to consumers to recognize this and still be entertained by them. Nope.
1. Teen Wolf (1984)
This is by no means one of my favorite movies from my childhood, but nevertheless, it is one in which I, upon rewatching it as an adult, discovered a scene that makes me shocked the movie hasn’t been canceled yet.
In the movie, Michael J. Fox portrays a teenager named Scott Howard who learns that he is a werewolf and when he is trying to tell his best friend Stiles about it, he struggles to do so, at which point, Stiles interjects, “Are you going to tell me you’re a fag? Because if you’re going to tell me you’re a fag, I’m not going to be able to handle it.”
“I’m not a fag. I’m a Werewolf,” Scott replies.
I’m sure there are plenty of snowflakes triggered by this scene now… and it’s not exactly a scene you can just cut out.
2. Back to the Future (1985)
Speaking of Michael J. Fox movies, Back to the Future deserves a mention for a scene that didn’t actually make the final cut of the film.
You know the movie, but you may not have ever had the chance to view the scene where Marty McFly questions whether he can go through with the plan he and Doc Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd) have conceived in order to get his parents to fall in love.
“I don’t know, Doc. I mean, it’s just this whole thing with my mother,” Marty says.
“What? What? What?” Doc Brown asks.
“I just don’t know if I can go through with hitting on her.”
“Nobody said anything about hitting her,” Doc says. “You’re just going to take a few liberties with her.”
“That’s what I mean, God…I can’t believe I’m going to feel up my own mother. This is the kind of thing that could screw me up permanently. What if I go back to the future and I end up being… gay?”
“Why shouldn’t you be happy?”
The scene was clearly meant to be a humorous showcasing of the way common slang and words in 1985 were anachronistic in 1955. At the time the movie takes place, “gay” was more associated with the definition “happy,” not being homosexual.
While the scene never made the final cut of the movie, it can be seen on the bonus material of its DVD/Blu-Ray release. Whenever the decision was made to include this scene on the bonus material, it clearly wasn’t problematic enough to just leave it in the vaults.
3. The Breakfast Club (1985)
This classic eighties film has been criticized for a whole slew of reasons, including being misogynistic, homophobic, and too white. But, until rather recently, no one really saw it that way. In fact, despite its classic status, the first time I actually ever watched the movie was in my sociology class in high school.
In the wake of the #MeToo era, the scene where Bender (played by Judd Nelson) gets a peek up Claire’s skirt suddenly became problematic, even for the actress who played Claire, Molly Ringwald. “If attitudes toward female subjugation are systemic, and I believe that they are, it stands to reason that the art we consume and sanction plays some part in reinforcing those same attitudes,” Ringwald said back in 2018. “What’s more, as I can see now, Bender sexually harasses Claire throughout the film. What’s more, as I can see now, Bender sexually harasses Claire throughout the film.. When he’s not sexualizing her, he takes out his rage on her with vicious contempt, calling her ‘pathetic,’ mocking her as ‘Queenie.’ It’s rejection that inspires his vitriol…He never apologizes for any of it, but, nevertheless, he gets the girl in the end.”
The other problem in the movie for the woke snowflakes of today comes during the brief visit to Bender’s locker, where we find he has graffitied “Open this locker and you die, FAG!!!” Current TV edits of the film crop it out, but gay slurs and stereotypes are featured elsewhere in the film. Nevertheless, one thing TV editing can’t fix is that every character is white and heterosexual, so sadly this ’80s classic is doomed. God help us if they ever reboot it.
4. Sixteen Candles (1984)
Sixteen Cabdles is another classic film from the ’80s by John Hughes that gets destroyed today for not aging well. Despite being highly praised at the time, and even well afterward, the movie has been called out for a number of reasons. Anthony Michael Hall’s character, Ted the geek, relentlessly pursues Molly Ringwald’s Samantha Baker, in such a way that is perceived as stalker-ish by current standards. Her only respite from his relentless pursuit of her affections comes when she agrees to give him a pair of underwear so he can use that as proof that they hooked up. He only agrees to give them to Samantha’s crush Jake (played by Michael Schoeffling), who ultimately returns them to her, when Jake offers his drunk and passed-out girlfriend to him, suggesting that Ted could have his way with her.
The film is rated PG, by the way.
But perhaps one of the most problematic aspects of the movie for modern audiences is its stereotypical depiction of Asians with the character named Long Duk Dong (played by Gedde Watanabe). In addition to his thick accent and over-the-top silly behavior, his appearance on screen is usually accompanied by the sound of a gong.
Even the actor who portrayed Long Duk Dong says he didn’t realize at the time how problematic that role was for Asians. Heck, even famed film critic Robert Ebert wrote at the time, “There are a lot of effective performances in this movie, including… Gedde Watanabe as the exchange student (he elevates his role from a potentially offensive stereotype to high comedy).”
While the film still was widely praised when it came out, younger audiences won’t be able to enjoy the movie like those of us who grew up in the eighties did.
5. Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
I can actually still remember the first time I saw this movie and loving it. It’s a fun adventure story for kids, and at the time it came out it was most certainly seen as harmless fun. But there are plenty of people who had no issue with the movie when it first came out who are scandalized by it now.
Early in the movie, there’s a scene between the older brother Brad and the younger sister Sara, where he repeatedly calls Marvel comic book character Thor “a homo.” Sara isn’t even offended by the term, but by the insinuation that Thor, God of Thunder, could be gay. She demands that he take it back.
Brad’s disparaging of Thor comes back to haunt him later in the movie when Sarah mistakes Dawson (played by Vincent D’Onofrio), who fixed their babysitter’s car, for Thor, and Sarah tells him that Brad “says you’re a homo,” at which point Dawson angrily grabs him. “You spreading lies about me, kid?” he asks.
Yeah, you won’t see that in a movie today.
6. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Despite the fact that the title characters travel through time in a phone booth, I would say this is a flick from my childhood that has aged well. I’ve watched it probably once a year in the past two years and I still enjoy it. Yes, the sequels are terrible, but this one will always be a classic to me. For the most part, there’s nothing problematic in this movie, save for one scene when Bill (played by Alex Winter) and Ted (played by Keanu Reeves) are in medieval England, and Ted, wearing a suit of armor, falls down some stairs and presumably gets stabbed in the chest by a guard with a sword. Bill is crushed, until he discovers that Ted is actually still alive, and explains that he fell out of the suit before Bill had seen the armor stabbed. I’m not exactly sure how that’s possible, but whatever. Bill is elated that his friend survived, they hug each other briefly before they both pull apart in disgust and simultaneously call each other “fag.”
A quick internet search will turn up plenty of digital ink discussing this scene. The movie has survived cancel culture so far, even after all the hype surrounding the franchise due to the release of the second sequel Bill & Ted Face The Music (which was horrible, don’t watch it) last year. One day, like so many other eighties movies, Bill & Ted will ultimately be deemed too bogus for the woke and unworthy of viewing by the rest of us.
7. Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
I watched this movie in the past six months specifically because I was convinced it wouldn’t be long before streaming services decided it wasn’t suitable for contemporary audiences. The movie is jam-packed with stereotypes, misogyny, and some other things that the woke audiences of today cannot stomach; the most prominent examples being when the fraternity of nerds secretly plant video cameras in the dorm of the popular girls’ sorority and when one of the nerds tricks one of the girls into sleeping with him by pretending to be her boyfriend behind a mask.
There’s also a gay nerd named Lamar (who was portrayed by a heterosexual actor Larry B. Scott) who embodies virtually all of the stereotypes, and who, on top of his sexual orientation, is black. When cancel culture discovers him, it won’t matter that this character is accepted as a fellow brother in the nerd frat as an equal.
8. Soul Man (1986)
Oh boy, a movie with a white actor in blackface? That can’t happen anymore. In this flick, a white teenager named Mark Watson (played by actor C. Thomas Howell) gets accepted to Harvard Law School, but his father refuses to pay his tuition. In a desperate search for a scholarship, he finds one that is only available to a black student. So, he takes tanning pills to darken his skin and pose black student.
There is literally nothing racist in this movie, but early in the movie, the character scoffs at the idea that he’ll suffer any negative consequences by saying, “These are the ’80s, man. This is the Cosby decade. America loves black people,” only to learn the hard way that racism exists, and, by the end of movie, he realizes the error of his ways and comes clean. If anything, this movie attempts to present the uncomfortable truths of racism. But, just because a white actor wears blackface throughout the movie, it will be immediately dismissed as racist.