Cringy lookback at movies filled with prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination
Tired of all the political correctness polices out there? I have to admit I have been, from time to time. But then I get a reminder of how things used to look like. when we weren’t as careful with our wording, our assumptions and our ideas of ideals. Things change, it’s as simple as that. We all have a place in this world and how we choose to define or not define ourselves is entirely up to each and every on of us. Whenever I see too much sexism, racism, homophobia and get the feeling that change is impossible and that people are still as stupid as ever – I turn on a 90’s chick-flick, a 2000’s reality show or the typical 90’s horror flick. I mean, holy moly – do you remember Beauty and the Geek? They really hit the nail on the head with with being offensive on all levels, pairing the stereotypical straight white “geek” with the stereotypical, unintelligent, shallow (and of course also straight) “beauty”, with the objective of making one more socially acceptable and the other a tad bit smarter. A round of applauds for the creativity please!
Sexism, homophobia and racism in movies
I still enjoy the typical slasher movie, you have to appreciate the simplicity in knowing the entire plot before even pressing play. A group of young, mostly attractive people- one being of color and lacking any sort of personality, one nerd or a pothead (often a nerdy pothead), an attractive girl without any self esteem, a macho guy, the macho guys unimportant friend, and of course our beautiful final girl. Personally I’m always rooting for the nerd, but obviously he’s just there to crack a few jokes on what not to do, so that the beautiful brave white folks can do exactly that, and so that the poor guy of color can sacrifice his life to save them from their own stupidity. I guess it has its charm?
As a movie lover I rarely watch the typical chick flick, it’s not really a movie that represents the art I’m so much in love with. On rare (maybe not so rare) hangover occasions I will however put on the typical chick-flick rom-com to let my mind relax for a bit and just space out to the very predictable plot. So macho boy meets girl, obstacles occur (obstacle then obviously being that the girl is ugly, weird, too smart, too unpopular or some other nonsense), girl has a makeover to please the boy, boy returns the favor by declaring his now socially acceptable feelings in a grand gesture. Let me just casually drop some titles here so that you see what I mean: Grease, A Princess’s Diary, She’s All That. See what I mean? I guess….. It had its charm? Did we “put up a fight”?
So, hangover in bed the other day I decided to space out once again, regain some appreciation for all the PC polices out there, and watch yet another chick-flick. Scrolling through Netflix like a zombie I finally made up my mind and turned on “He’s just not that into you”, knowing I had already watched this movie as a young teen and liked it. So my teenage me obviously didn’t see anything wrong with this, it was the world we lived in and so watching it simply reflected how I already felt.
Remember when you were a kid, got heavily bullied and were told it’s because he/she (other pronouns were obviously not acceptable) like you? No? Well good for you then, others (myself included) weren’t as lucky. That’s the start of “He’s just not that into you” We see a little girl on the playground minding her own business when a boy suddenly approach her only to push her and scream that she’s made of dog poo. The mother, desperately trying to comfort her little girl, ensures her that the boy was only mean because “He likes you”. So there you have it, the tone is already set for the rest of the movie, with women displayed like hopeless, desperate love-seekers who won’t get the hint, that “he’s just not that into you”. Because we’ve been brought up believing that being mean assholes is how you show affection? I guess that’s the takeaway, not sure. *imagine face-palm emoji*
Will today’s movies stand the test of time?
Many movies, jokes, characters aged very badly when viewing it from our current climate. And isn’t that good? I’m happy that I feel uncomfortable watching certain movies from 10 years ago, seeing distasteful homophobic comments being thrown around like it’s nothing and thinking it would never go unnoticed today. Good! Isn’t that exactly how it should be?
I do agree that the PC police can go overboard sometimes when it comes to movies. Just look at the controversy around “Joker”, how Arthur Fleck’s struggles with mental illness, a traumatic past and struggles in life finally took him over the edge. NO, it does not set the norm for people with mental illnesses. It doesn’t promise an “edge” in the human psyche that if crossed will eventually make you an evil villain. It simply tells the story of one fictional human being – and beautifully so!
My point is, let’s just take a moment and appreciate how far we’ve come. Yes, we still have a long way to go, and in a decade we’ll probably look back and see the change we’ve accomplished reflect in our movies. In the meantime, let’s just breath a sight of relief and remember that 12 years ago Beauty and the Geek came to an end and now we can stream Ru’Pauls Drag Race on Netflix instead!
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