I am a child of the ’80s. So, by all definitions, I should be able to quote The Princess Bride, know the founding members of the Brat Pack, and worship at the altar of Carrie Fisher. The trouble is, our family didn’t have cable, and I rarely went to the movies. I didn’t know Carrie Fisher was the actress who played Princess Leia until about 6 years ago – because I hadn’t seen Star Wars until 6 years ago. I still don’t know who the Brat Pack is, and I hadn’t seen The Princess Bride until recently.
I know, I know. I’m an embarrassment to my generation and all that. Except you know what? Many of those movies that we swoon over from our childhoods are actually pretty terrible. Sure, Carrie Fisher was a bona fide badass, and Star Wars is every bit as amazing as it’s hailed to be. But the rest of it? Well, it’s trash — mostly for the hidden and smack-you-in-the-face-obvious sexist and racist messages. And if it isn’t total trash, it’s a whole lot of blah and meh and what-was-the-big-deal-anyway.
I’m probably committing some kind of blasphemy with this list, but here are just a few cult classics that are actually pretty awful.
I’m no boxing fan, so that probably should have been my first tip-off that I wouldn’t love this movie, but I truly don’t understand the appeal. Even if you can appreciate the “underdog” aspect, there are a lot of big, glaring problems in this movie. Like Rocky’s treatment of Adrian, for one. Within the first few minutes of watching the movie, I’d had several conversations with my kids about consent and misogyny which led to a mom-lecture about how, when Adrian said she wasn’t comfortable in Rocky’s apartment, he should have said, “Okay, I’ll walk you home.” No means no, people!
2. The Princess Bride
I’ll admit, the movie is pretty funny, but what’s the deal with Princess Buttercup? She is the Worst. Character. Ever. I’ll grant you the Inigo is hilarious and all that. But why are all the good characters in the movie men? The only female character is the movie is absolutely worthless. It was a little hard to watch with my boys without launching into a lecture – and they had enough of those with Rocky.
The first song of the year actually condones date rape with its “Tell me more, tell me more, did she put up a fight?” line. WTAF! This whole movie with its slut shaming, patriarchal stereotypes, and blurred lines about consent is just one big dumpster fire of awful.
4. Sixteen Candles
It truly pains me to include this movie on the list, but sometimes even the great ones disappoint us. As much as I love me some Jake Ryan (who doesn’t swoon when he says, “yeah, you” at the end?), there are just too many problematic things in this movie, including the date rapey scene with Samantha and “the geek” at the end. Not to mention it’s kinda racist AF.
5. A Christmas Story
I’m not even sure where to start with this one. First of all, the plot is boring and it’s not that funny. Then there are the ’40s-era stereotypes, mocking of different cultures, and abusive parenting tactics. At least with this one, it was my kids who were appalled – why is she putting soap in her kid’s mouth?! That’s just mean!
Now before you call me a stick-in-the-mud who can’t appreciate ’80s pop culture, I do appreciate a bunch of ’80s cult classics that withstand the test of time: Star Wars (Carrie Fisher is the epitome of badassery), Stand By Me and Dirty Dancing (#BestMovieEver). And I still haven’t seen Indiana Jones or Fast Times At Ridgemont High or Heathers (I told you I had a sheltered childhood) so I’m reserving judgment on those.