Ridiculously overblown political outrage over motion picture content is nothing new.
Back in the ’90s, when I still leaned left and considered myself a liberal, I was always put off (and I still am) when right-wing puritans would attack certain motion pictures on the basis of the violence they depicted…
Sidewinder’s Anecdote #1: I declined to vote for Bill Clinton’s re-election in 1996 (not that it mattered, right?) on the basis of his comments echoing those of his Republican opponent Bob Dole, who stated, citing True Romance and Natural Born Killers specifically, that Hollywood needed to crack down on their violent movies. In other words, both pandering politicians were advocating for a stifling of artistic expression.
…or adult cartoons like Beavis And Butthead, because it would encourage little kids to play with fire…
Sidewinder’s Anecdote #2: When I was five, back in 1974, I knew several classmates, besides myself, who played with matches. We didn’t have a TV show to blame for it, just childish curiosity and a momentary lack of adult supervision.
…or The Last Temptation Of Christ because it depicted a possible earthly future for Christ should he succumb to Satan’s offer…which Christ, at the end of the film, declines to accept. But most protesters hadn’t actually seen the movie, so how would they know that?
Sidewinder’s Anecdote #3: I never understood why the protesting Christians back in 1988 felt threatened by that movie, which had, and continues to have, a rather limited audience appeal. Personally, I think it’s one of Scorsese’s most overrated films.
And I still recall the parental protests in late 1984 over the theatrical release of Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Sidewinder’s Anecdote #4: As a teen, I remember seeing the photos of those protests and thinking, You’re standing outside a movie theater in the cold, protesting an R-rated Slasher movie whom your own small children, presently standing beside you, wouldn’t be able to gain admission to without your accompaniment. All your protests are achieving is free publicity for the movie.
Militant feminists in the early 1980s, along with fellow travelers in the entertainment media, such as Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, used to protest Slasher movies (i.e. Maniac, Dresssed To Kill, Friday The 13th) as being misogynistic and literally dangerous to women.
Homosexual activists made similar claims about the movies Windows and Cruising, declaring that each film would inspire real-life violence against gay men and women:
Today’s generation of left-wing Church Ladies, having given up protesting hot-button Thrillers and B-grade exploitation genres, are now attempting to browbeat more mainstream audiences who enjoy older comedies, the majority of which apparently now qualify as crimes against humanity:
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg (Ghostbusters, Say Anything and Big, for example, all have instances of sexual misconduct as well). Across the board, the sexual misconduct, even the rape scenes, described in the movies above, are treated with a very lighthearted and jovial approach.”
Yes, according to the author of this piece, even the original Ghostbusters is guilty of promoting ‘rape culture’. Why? Because Bill Murray’s character is ‘creepy’ in the way he interacts with women.
And that’s it.
In a similar Guardian piece by a different author, Murray’s role in Meatballs gets attacked on the same grounds:
Say Anything, for all its positive attributes, the author notes, is nonetheless to be condemned because it continues the longstanding Hollywood tradition of romanticizing the act of stalking/harassment, for instance:
Big is verboten because a female adult has sex with a 13-year-old boy whose spirit is trapped within the body of an adult male.
The other movies mentioned in the RealClearLife article? Animal House, Caddyshack, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Porky’s, Revenge Of The Nerds…
…and Back To The Future, which is the only example provided by the author which explicitly depicts an attempted forcible rape. The author disapproves of this mainly because it allows George McFly to rescue his future wife by KO’ing her would-be rapist.
Revenge Of The Nerds is vile to the humorless SJWs because of the nerds’ behavior during and after their panty raid of the mean sorority, and because Robert Carradine’s nerd has sex with a sorority mean-girl who believes she’s with her costumed greek boyfriend.
Adding insult to the SJW’s injured sensibilities, the sorority girl, Betty, ends up falling for the nerd because his sexual performance was so satisfying. Realistic? Not really. Pandering to the lascivious fantasies of sex-starved male nerds? Obviously.
As far as its filmmakers making light of the nerds’ behavior, let’s not forget that this was intended to be a COMEDY and that it was centered around those nerds…taking…REVENGE…on the frat boys and sorority girls who’d jointly acted to humiliate them and get them thrown off campus.
What I take away from the author’s condemnation of this film is that, when it comes to comedy, certain topics and particular perspectives on those topics, are forbidden, regardless of context or intent. And this author’s not alone.
There’s an undeniable whiff of snobbery to all this outraged pearl-clutching, along with an unhealthy obsession with virtue-signalling.
George Carlin would have had a field day with these uptight scolds and their totalitarian demands on humor.
By attempting to police humor, resulting in a culture where no jokes are allowed, lest someone somewhere be offended, the left-wing Church Ladies hope to keep the rest of us on edge, off balance, fearful to speak, too nervous to laugh.
My favorite aspect of motion pictures, past and present, is the wide range of stories, characters, ideas, perspectives, styles and genres the curious viewer can seek out and experience, different kinds of films which elicit a variety of emotional responses (if the films are any good, that is).
In other words, the true diversity of cinema. A diversity of ideas.
While there are certainly well-made classic movies I find unappealing…The Graduate…I don’t believe I’ve ever attempted to scold anyone else for enjoying them. I’ve certainly never advocated a movie be banned or censored. The idea of criminalizing a piece of art or entertainment, if only in peoples’ minds, is one I find repellent.
The authors of these two “80s Comedies Promote Rape Culture” articles, while not calling explicitly for censorship, seem to be laying the groundwork for future censors by, essentially, accusing the films mentioned of being complicit in real-life sexual misconduct/assault/rape.
That’s not much different, and certainly no more credible, than a mass murderer blaming his parents for the killing spree the maniac chose to embark on. Or anyone attempting to shift blame for their own criminal behavior onto their bullying classmates at school…or a movie star they’ve never known personally…or society in general…or the music of 2 Live Crew and Ozzy Osbourne, for that matter.
Blame-shifting is for cowards. The reality is, individuals have individual thoughts, make different decisions, not all of them good or necessarily even law-abiding. Punishing artists and a wide swath of consumers for the unlawful behavior of individual deviants is collectivist BS.
Attempting to corral bad behavior through the condemnation or banishment of arts and entertainment represents little more than a power-grab over the individual by killjoy control-freaks, a slippery slope of puritanical authoritarianism. Such prudes.
But, hey, keep attacking fans of classic comedies that have been popular for decades. Keep casting your ever-widening nets of outrage. See how far it gets you.