Classic movies are classic for a reason–they are filled with nostalgia and wonder, and remind you of the slow days at home, sitting with your family with a bowl of popcorn between you and your favorite films playing on the TV. But when was the last time you paid attention to your favorite movie–and I mean, really paid attention. Did you notice all the incredibly not chill scenes, comments, and themes that slid past you when you were young? Now that we’ve got you considering all your favorites, ask yourself one question – would they pass the vibe check?
1. Holiday Inn
As far as classic movies go, black and white Christmas films are some of the most nostalgic and loved – and some of the most problematic. Take “Holiday Inn” for example. Everyone’s grandma made them watch Holiday Inn at least once in their life – it’s Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, so it has to be a staple Christmas movie. However, there are a lot of problematic elements in it, most notably the scenes involving blackface. In case you don’t remember, Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds sing the song “Abraham” for Abe Lincoln’s birthday in full blackface. And while many argue that you have to accept the scene as a part of the times, I just can’t let it slide. Sorry, all Christmas class movie lovers–“Holiday Inn” would not pass today’s cultural standards.
2. Mrs. Doubtfire
I want to preface this with the statement that I love Robin Williams, I do. He’s one of my favorite actors and he made some absolutely amazing, emotional, wonderful, classic movies. “Mrs. Doubtfire” just wasn’t one of them. I tried rewatching this as an adult because I loved it as a kid and I literally had to stop halfway through and walk away. It’s just super dumb in general, and the way the film treats Williams’ dressing like a woman as a joke (including the scene where his son accidentally finds him in the bathroom and is disgusted) is incredibly offensive to transgender viewers. This movie couldn’t be made today.
3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Another amazing actor who starred in some less than amazing films considered to be classic movies, Audrey Hepburn’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” would not be okay by today’s standards. I know what you’re thinking – Hepburn is a classic actress who made some of the most widely known and respected films to date, how can some not pass the vibe check? Well, there’s one huge, glaring problem with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” – Mr. Yunioshi. Mr. Yunioshi, Hepburn’s neighbor in the film, is an offensive and racist caricature of an Asian man played by the white actor, Mickey Rooney. There are so, so many issues with this character that it would take a whole article just to write about it, but let’s be clear that this incredibly racist and uncomfortable portrayal of the character would have no chance of making it into theaters today.
4. Sixteen Candles
’80s movies are a set of classic movies all their own, and Molly Ringwald and the Brat Pack absolutely dominated films released during the decade. But while these films are widely beloved by your mom, there are a lot of problems that need to be unpacked. For starters, Long Duk Dong and the clearly racist overtones written into the character are incredibly uncomfortable to watch. And while we at least don’t have to deal with casting a white actor to play the character like in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” it doesn’t fix the fact that John Hughes’ character was still an offensive and racist caricature.
5. Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom
I don’t know if I really need to explain why “Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom” wouldn’t pass the vibe check because I feel like anyone who’s seen it will already know what I’m going to say, but I’m going to say it anyway. As far as classic movies go, Indiana Jones is the epitome of classic action and adventure films. However, it is also the epitome of sexist and stereotypical female characters who are only there to give Indie someone to save, and of racist stereotypes of Asian characters. It’s literally so racist that it was banned in India when it was first released. It’s disrespectful to Indian people, culture, and religion, and therefore could not and would not be made today.
6. Forrest Gump
“Forrest Gump” is another example of classic movies with amazing actors that just could not have been made today because they are so incredibly problematic. It’s a huge example of films with agendas trying to win Oscars and awards by having actors play mentally handicapped characters, and the depiction of said character is inaccurate and insensitive. Not to mention, there’s a certain amount of historical whitewashing that comes with some of Forrest Gump’s achievements – for example, he’s credited with inspiring Elvis’ dance moves, which were actually inspired by black artists at the time. Lots of movies have taken away historically black achievements and given them to white characters, and that’s one reason why “Forrest Gump” can’t pass the vibe check.
7. The Birds
Here is an example of classic movies that couldn’t be made today not because of their content, but because of their history. Alfred Hitchcock is well known now for the horrible mistreatment of his female leads on set, through emotional, mental, and physical abuse, as well as the horrific moments of sexual harassment. Tippi Hedren has stated multiple times about how awful her experience was working with Hitchcock on the film, and with the prevalence of the #MeToo movement in today’s society, we feel confident that Hitchcock would have been called out and shut down had his actions been made public in today’s society.
“Grease” is, without a doubt, a popular choice for classic movies. Everyone and their grandmother love “Grease,” and we all seem to know at least two songs from the film even if we’ve never elected to watch it of our own volition. However, “Grease” could not pass today’s vibe check for two reasons: one, the idea that you can only find love if you change yourself completely for a man is not a message that would pass in today’s culture. Two, the predatorial line “did she put up a fight?” would immediately get the film shut down. Sorry grandma, but we can’t watch “Grease” and not recognize it as being incredibly problematic.
9. Gone With The Wind
“Gone With the Wind” is literally my grandmother’s favorite movie and is one of the most classic movies of all time. However, it is hugely problematic, most notably for its portrayal of Mammy. While Hattie McDaniel was the first black woman to ever win an Oscar for her role in the film, the role itself is so incredibly regressive and damaging to the representation of the black community that there is literally no way that it could be made today. It not only doesn’t pass the vibe check, but the idea would be immediately rejected from consideration.