I hate to admit it, but I’m a sucker for clickbait listicles. Facebook has me pegged. If one shows up in my feed, I’ll probably click it. I’m considering going to rehab if I don’t get it under control.
But seriously, I recently came across a listicle published on Screen Crush that I just had to read about movies that “could never be made today.”
Reboots are rarely a good idea—probably the only film reboot that was good was the Coen brothers’ adaptation of True Grit—so, in a sense, none of the films should be made again, but what this list and others like it are really speaking to is how modern “woke” audiences wouldn’t take well to content in the movie. So I clicked over and read through the list. There are several films I haven’t seen on the list—and some have legitimate reasons for being controversial, but I can only speak to the ones I’ve seen (which I’ll mention) and for the most part, it’s laughable that anyone would be so bothered by these films.
First off is the usual suspect: Blazing Saddles. Forget about this movie not being made today, I’m honestly surprised you can still watch it. The author of the listicle even acknowledges that the film mocks racism, yet there’s so much profanity (oh no, curse words?) and so many racial slurs in the film “that modern audiences are often taken aback and even offended by the content, regardless of its intent.”
Next come Meatballs, the Bill Murray comedy from 1979. It’s been many years since I’ve seen this movie, and honestly remember very little, but the snowflake writer of the list laments that “One of the key supporting characters is a nerdy boy with tape on his glasses called ‘Spaz,’ both a stereotype and a name that would never fly today.”
Oh no! Protect the masses! Meanwhile, absent from the list is the movie Carrie, which one could argue portrays religious Christians as crazy zealots. Something tells me the author didn’t have a problem with that.
The next movie on the list I’m familiar with is Animal House. A classic. I’ve watched it many times, and yet somehow I turned out okay. One scene, when the Delta frat brothers go to the Dexter Lake Club, was almost taken out of the film for allegedly being racist. Here’s what IMDB says on that issue:
According to John Landis, Universal Pictures President Ned Tanen objected so strongly to the Dexter Lake Club scene that he interrupted a screening of the film and ordered the scene be removed immediately, claiming it would cause race riots in the theaters. In response, Landis screened the film for Richard Pryor, who then wrote a note to Tanen which read: “Ned, ‘Animal House’ is f—ing funny, and white people are crazy, Richard.”
But, Richard Pryor’s seal of approval isn’t enough for the snowflake who wrote the list.
One movie I’d never heard of, much less seen, on this list is a movie called Pretty Baby, about child prostitution, featuring an underage Brooke Shields—who apparently appeared nude in the film. Obviously, the author of the list rightly finds this movie objectionable, and muses that today “it’s very difficult to conceive of it getting released at all.”
This was an interesting take, given the controversy surrounding the Netflix-released film Cuties from last year. In the wake of the controversy about the movie, PJ Media’s Stephen Green watched it and concluded it was “a preteen sexploitation flick.” Yet, writer-director Maïmouna Doucouré calls it “deeply feminist film with an activist message,” and the left-wing site Slate blamed conservatives and QAnon for all the outrage over it. So, yeah, something tells me Pretty Baby could get made today, and Netflix would stream it. Because of “feminism” and “female empowerment” or some other absurd reason.
So, when the same author wrote a subsequent list about ’90s movies that “could never be made today,” I couldn’t help but chuckle at some of the movies he chose and why.
While I’ve never seen the movie Basic Instinct, it makes the list, not for the infamous scene that caused a real stir when it came out, but because it allegedly propagates “negative stereotypes about LGBTQ characters” because Sharon Stone’s character in the movie is bisexual, and in the movie, she’s manipulative and possibly a murder. Oh, no! Are certain groups not allowed to be depicted as bad people because it perpetuates a stereotype? Are only white heterosexual men allowed to be portrayed negatively on film now?
Disclosure makes the list because, apparently, the #MeToo era makes it taboo. Entrapment gets a mention because of the age gap between the main characters Sean Connery (79 at the time the movie was made) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (who was only 30). “The absurd age difference between the romantic leads raised a few eyebrows at the time. Today, it would surely have garnered much more negative publicity.”
But then the author of the list hits Forrest Gump—a beloved movie (featuring the beloved Tom Hanks) that the author believes wouldn’t be well-received today because of Hanks’ portrayal of Gump being problematic, and because Jenny (played by Robin Wright) gets “punished” for her “life of free love in the 1960s with addiction, AIDS, and death.” The author suggests such a portrayal “would be hot take’d into oblivion if it appeared in a 2020s movie.”
I’ve seen lots of lists like this one that give various reasons why the crude humor or of movies from decades past wouldn’t fly today. And yes, while attitudes have changed, and a couple of movies have legitimate objections to them, it’s still sad to see that many movies are so triggering to the delicate snowflakes. As far as I’m concerned, when people start making lists that suggest that Forrest Gump is too problematic for today’s audiences, that’s when I get really worried that wokeness is even more extreme than I thought.