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Dumb Topic #6: Movies / TV shows that are MESSED UP but you still like them

I am going to be on a friend's podcast this week and this is the topic we are covering. I think most of us are at an age where very popular movies and TV shows from our youths had some seriously unacceptable themes or characters... homophobia, sexism, racism, etc... I wouldn't choose this one myself, but for example: Long Duk Dong from 16 Candles is not some stuff you'd be able to get away with in a movie right now. 

1. Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins
A main Asian character is played by an extremely white man. Granted he is a pretty cool character and always has the upper hand, but you know... he's still a mystical man from a fictitious place in orient with fictitious magic martial arts and that is some major other-ness. Bonus sketchy points awarded for the fact that they are based on a long series of cheap adventure novels that openly espouse a heinously conservative worldview. I have read dozens.

2. Gung Ho
There is a genre of movies where dipshit americans are fish out of water in Japan (or Japanese settings) of which I am a leading expert. It's seriously messed up to portray Japanese people as an inscrutable hive of aliens who eat live bait and hilariously mispronounce words, even though, once again, the Americans are usually portrayed much worse. Still, I watch this movie like... anytime I am bored. 

3. Temple of Doom
I mean come on... jesus...

4. Full Metal Jacket
I'm willing to bet all my land and holdings that 99% of the audience are actually watching for the direct thrill of abusive, racist, homophobic slurs and insults being hurled by a true artist of the form and only... maybe... tangentially enjoying the main theme of dehumanization.

I have more, but I want to leave room for exploration.


  • PS I can think of at least two pretty major 80s cultural touchstone movies that are loaded with bad ideas and sketchy themes I am curious if anyone will name.
  • I watch Christmas Story every year, in the appropriate season, and every year the Chinese restaurant 'fa ra ra ra ra' scene makes me cringe.

    Hurts me every time, but I still watch it.

    Gremlins had some pretty hardcore mystical orientalism in it, as did Hellraiser, for that matter.

    I rewatched Stripes a couple of years ago, after not having seen it for many, many years. I had somehow built it up into a cinematic masterpiece in my mind, remembering only the good parts. I discovered, of course, that it's basically Porkies with John Candy and Bill Murray. The good bits are still good, but as a whole's it's nearly unwatchable.
  • It starts out pretty progressive though! The girlfriend being the only stable person in the movie and not even remotely standing for bullshit was kind of a rare circumstances to just toss into a goofball comedy!
  • Revenge of the Nerds
  • edited June 2015
    You are going to link to the podcast, right?

    Honestly, I am most embarrassed about all the awful Hasbro cartoons I used to watch: Transformers, GI Joe, COPS, etc. A while ago I ruined my childhood forever by hopping on Youtube and looking some old episodes up. NEVER EVER DO THIS.

    I do not know that the cartoons are racist (although they are certainly tone-deaf in that earnest 80s way) but rather that they are so violent, with so few consequences. All the soldiers in GI Joe clutter the screen with their fricking laser beams, but nobody gets hurt until the movie with Serpentor, which I found absolutely horrifying. The 80s Transformer movie was pretty grim as well; the image of flames spurting out of the dying Prowl's eyes after he got shot point-blank is seared into my memory forever.

    EDIT: Oh wait I was supposed to still like these shows. I suppose that they have a nostalgia-hold on my heart to this day, because I am utterly susceptible to marketing. But overall I have failed the thread.
  • It's okay because you bridged the gap to TV which I forgot to do.
  • And Jeff got one! Who gets the other?
  • I watched weird science a couple years ago and hated it.

    I've watched a lot of Top Gear and was relieved when the BBC finally canned them so I wouldn't "have" to watch anymore. Jeremy Clarkson is vile but Star in a Reasonably Priced Car is so addictingggg and what if I missed an episode where they drive a Toyota up the side of an active volcano??
  • edited June 2015
    I pretty much didn't watch movies in the 1980s, but I am guessing that the other touchstone picture starred Tom Cruise.

    I think I will submit Disney's Aladdin as my candidate for movie that is embarrassing which I still unironically enjoy. (Not that I've seen it for years...)
  • You mentioned Long Duc Dong so I'm guessing Sixteen Candles wasn't the other 80s touchstone but it is a 90 minute paean to date rape as well as racism so it's a hideous piece of shit that I used to love.

    Just about any John Hughes or John Hughes-inspired movie could fit.
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's... That whole Mickey Rooney thing.

    Triplets of Bellville... Josephine Baker depiction at the beginning is surprisingly accurate and still probably super racist. There's a lot of history to unpack with that one.
  • The other one was Back To The Future.

    Marty traipses through time taking credit for the decisions, discoveries and achievements of black people (mayor Goldie, chuck berry, even darth vader) on a mission to ensure that his mother gets properly sexually assaulted. There was also some homophobic content that was left on the cutting room floor.
  • I haven't seen that since its heyday but yeah that's p gross.
  • I'll plead guilty. Not only did I miss the racism, but I still admire the first Back to the Future a lot.
  • This thread is a safe space where we face ongoing failures in judgement.

    Short Circuit is another classically 80s thing that has a witheringly unacceptable race issue. Luckily the movie itself doesn't even remotely hold up so Neill Blomkamp thoughtfully remade it as Chappie.
  • Maybe I did not miss all of the racism. I remember the part with the Libyan terrorists being pretty offensive.
  • Slightly different angle but I'm beginning to think Hannibal is pretty messed up though I still enjoy it. I've been having a lot of thoughts about how much of my preferred entertainment centers around violence and death and whether that's still working for me.

    I don't know it's a lot to type with one thumb (my other thumb is attached to the hand/arm currently being rendered insensate by a snoozing toddler).
  • That's a good take. I guess I sideline my thoughts on violence because death is available to everyone so it's really egalitarian and progressive.
  • I saw most of Chappie on someone else's seat screen (so no sound) on my Van>Munich flight. I imagined the dialogue to be Fink U Freeky on repeat. it still looked bad...
  • Skyfall. Bond movies STILL doing evil = queer, in 2013 or whatever it was, FFS, but I'm opening Netflix to see if I can get it on my iPad this second.
  • Oh I never noticed that but yeah!
  • no netflix in Turkey. :(
  • I'm unclear on whether it's ok to enjoy "30 Rock." The racial politics of the show have taken kind of a beating, but I also feel like everyone on the show was kind of weird and incompetent, so... I don't know?

    I am dreading revisiting pretty much any sketch comedy, but maybe particularly Monty Python and Kids in the Hall, that pulled comedy from men in drag.
  • edited June 2015
    I don't know if I see that as a negative thing. I'm willing to be schooled on it if I am way off, but isn't drag kind of it's own separate universe where the disparity is allowed to be a comedic element?
  • salsal
    edited June 2015
    the Little Britain school of men in drag is godawful because most of the humour is supposed to come from men doing a completely shit job of passing. it's gross, because it's about failing to meet a standard of femininity/beauty. I feel like Rowan Atkinson did some of this too.

    kids in the hall did it more to serve the story of the skit. there were competent and incompetent female characters, it was pretty varied - it wasn't about "haha hairy legs/facial hair". so while there's the problem of "why can't you just get an actual woman to do this", it's super tame. IMO.
  • There's a popular idea that good comedy punches up, right? If you start there, and look at John Cleese selling albatross in a dress; I'm not actually sure who's being made fun of. Maybe it's just the total absurdity of the thing. I like the Portlandia sketches where Carrie plays this hypermasculine dude, and that bit would be unnerving if the dude were played by a dude. Fred plays the lady, but it's a duo, so there isn't anyone else to play her, and they don't really try to mine his appearance for comedy. What about Dan Aykroyd's Julia Child bit?
  • In my arrogant opinion, a lot of good comedy plays with the line between acceptability and the taboo. Maybe politically correct comedy punches up, but I remain unconvinced that all good comedy is politically correct.

    I think Kids in the Hall has aged pretty well, though. As sal says, the fact that the Kids dressed up as women was rarely the joke.

    What hasn't aged so well (in my arrogant opinion) are Scott Thompson's Buddy Cole monologues. Maybe they were never funny in the first place.
  • I loved KitH, but never got into Buddy or the chicken lady.
  • BTW: If you're looking for socially progressive entertainment, check out Sense8.

    I really enjoyed it.
  • Where is scot's podcast?

    As long as we are talking about comedy that hasn't aged well, I would like to bring up Eddie Murphy's Delirious.
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