There are a lot of movies out there with obviously racist themes – Song of the South, Birth of a Nation, every movie ever made by Spike Lee, The Wizard of Oz (hey, witches are people too) – but that’s not what this list is about. No, what this list is about are those films that are a little more subtle with their racism, the ones in which the racism isn’t an obvious plot point but an underlying assumption, which honestly is probably the most dangerous kind of racism there is. Got it? Good. So without further ado, here are seven movies that are subtly racist. Commence getting offended and yelling at me in the comments… now.
Photo credit: YouTube/Orion Pictures
7 Animal House
Look, I love Animal House, but… come on, you can’t tell me that the scene in which the boys take their dates to a club filled with giant, menacing black dudes isn’t at least slightly racist. Just a tad anyway. I mean, yeah, “Mind if we dance with yo dates?” is a funny quote from a funny movie but watching it recently I couldn’t help but think “What the hell? That’s, uh, that’s kind of racist.” From the terrified reaction of the guys to the meek, submissive fear shown by the white women, it’s a scene that could never be filmed today. People would go nuts. Sure, the giant black dudes treated the women with dignity and respect, but that’s why it’s so racist. I mean, that was part of the joke – the dudes just wanted to dance but because they were giant black dudes everyone assumed they wanted to rape the white girls and kill the frat boys. How in the hell is that not racist? Oh, also, how about all those minority students at Faber College? Oh, wait…
6 Dangerous Minds
The plot of Dangerous Minds: An intrepid white lady, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, braves the wild urban jungle in order to bring civilization to a gang of inner-city thugs and reprobates who are completely incapable of educating themselves or finding reasons to live without the guidance of a gentle white hand. Do I need to go on? No? Good. Also, this movie made Coolio think that he was an important artist, which honestly is the worst and most irresponsible thing on this entire list.
According to 300, the Spartans – representing the defenders of Western Civilization – are all chiseled demi-gods willing to give their lives in defense of everything noble and right, while the Persians – representing the East – are all rampaging degenerates, disgusting mutants, wild sex fiends with nothing but animal lust in their hearts and treachery in their lizard brains. Honestly, I’d rather hang out with Xerxes and his friends than Leonidas and his boys while they polish their shields all night and admire each other’s rock hard, uh, abs, but that’s beside the point. The point is that in a movie in which the chief conflict is between East and West – which let’s face it is kind of relevant given today’s world – the forces of the East are all portrayed as inhuman monsters. Yeah, yeah, I know the movie is about the heroic last stand of the Spartans at Thermopylae, but to anyone paying attention it’s impossible to ignore the subtext of the movie, which is that Westerners are all Greek Gods and Easterners are all shifty perverts and monsters. Uh, on second thought, maybe the racism in this one wasn’t so subtle.
4 Avatar/Dances With Wolves/The Last Samurai
I was going to give each one of these movies a place of their own on this list, but why bother? They’re basically all the same movie – a native tribe tries to fend off the greedy advances of the cruel, spiritless Western world while a single noble white man struggles with his own place in that Western world before being embedded with the spiritually advanced natives, who teach him their ways and then sit back while he takes over and leads their resistance. Seriously, that is the basic plot to all three of these movies. Whether it’s Kevin Costner fighting Union troops on behalf of helpless Indians or Tom Cruise fighting Union trained troops on behalf of helpless Japanese Samurai or Sam Worthington fighting grizzled space marines and greedy developers on behalf of helpless Indians, er, I mean Na’vi, they all have the same moral: white people are soulless greedheads, native people are all soulful spirit warriors and in the end, only a single spiritually evolved white man can save their dying civilizations. Some would call these movies progressive, but that shit is racist, yo.
3 The Passion of the Christ
Lessons learned from watching The Passion of the Christ: Jesus is cool, Jews are all evil and would sell out their own savior, and oh yeah, they really, really enjoy watching him get his ass beat because, again, they are evil, just like the bad guys in Lethal Weapon. Okay, got it. Thanks for the lesson, Mel.
What’s racist about Hoosiers? Well, how about the fact that the whole movie is built around the fantasy of a bunch of humble, midwestern white kids banding together thanks to grit, hustle, teamwork, David Eckstein and a lot of other buzzwords used by secretly racist old white dudes to champion un-athletic mediocre white athletes, in order to defeat the unstoppable inner-city black monsters in the end to win the state championship? Uh, that’s at least a little racist, right? Look, I love Hoosiers but let’s face it, this movie is a Klansman’s wet dream.
1 All of the Rocky movies
The Rocky movies are, like Hoosiers, basically a white man’s fantasy. Every single one of them is built around the white man triumphing over the black man, who is basically used throughout the series as a symbol for everything that’s keeping the white man from getting his piece of the pie. Let’s break down the series, movie by movie, shall we?
In Rocky, the villain is Apollo Creed, a flashy black dude who personifies the idea of style over substance. He wins in the end but over the course of their title fight, the world falls in love with the grit and moxie of the underdog white man, Rocky Balboa.
In Rocky II, Apollo Creed is again the bad guy, only this time Rocky triumphs in the end, once and for all establishing that the white way is the right way.
In Rocky III, Apollo has learned his lesson and now spends all his time helping Rocky train like a glorified towel boy or something. The new bad guy is a thug named Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T, a black dude with no respect for anyone or anything. Also, it’s implied that Rocky’s beloved trainer, a crusty old white dude named Mickey, literally dies because Rocky won’t listen to him and stay humble and act like a gritty white man should, which as we learned from the previous movies is the only way to triumph over the wild ways of the black man.
In Rocky IV, the bad guy isn’t black, but Russian and all the Russians are portrayed as inhuman cheaters, joyless robots who just want to crush the free spirit of the American Rocky. Also, Apollo shows up and gets killed by the Russian in a fight which sees Apollo act like such a black stereotype that it’s surprising that he doesn’t break into a little soft-shoe mid-fight.
In Rocky V, Rocky has become poor and brain-damaged from years of abuse at the hands of evil black dudes and monster Russians. He mentors a young white fighter who soon falls prey to the advances of a slimy black promoter who turns the young white guy against Rocky and forces Rocky to fight back once again against the flashy ways of the evil black man.
And finally, in Rocky Balboa, a 97 year-old Rocky comes out of retirement to whip the ass of the disrespectful and brash new champion, a flashy upstart who, shock of all shocks, is a young black dude.
I’m guessing that in Rocky VII, Rocky will finally just get it over with and join the Klan. You can argue with me all you want but just read everything I just wrote and tell me that the Rocky franchise isn’t, as the esteemed founder of Guyism – and reportedly handsome as hell – Chris Spags once stated, “a subtly racist parable for the white man’s triumph over the black man.” And that’s why it’s number one on this list.