I really don’t like to throw the word “offensive” around. I’ve always assumed that it’s used only by critics who don’t understand the intent of other people’s work. But sometimes, some things are undeniably offensive.
Over winter break, audiences spent $165 million to see one of the most insulting films of the last decade. It was a manipulative, unintelligible wreck about a dull couple who happened to own a wacky dog. Yep, “Marley & Me,” offended me. Think of it like this: The film is supposed to be about life lessons learned from a pooch, but it was poorly conceived beyond belief. Sure, it was cute, but what did anyone get from it?
Hem and haw all you want, but folks who saw the movie know that the scene involving dogs being unleashed at the beach to the tune of The Verve’s “Lucky Man” was just awful. Insulting to good ideas, good taste and all around cinematic competency, the flick was just kinda, totally … offensive.
Now, offensive may seem a little harsh, but it makes sense. Any film that’s deliberately insulting to the intelligence of film-going audiences ought to be considered offensive. Yes, it can still be a good film (see: “In the Company of Men”). But what films are truly offensive? I’ve been thinking about this as objectively as possible. And I’m not talking about blue talk, bare bodies, bloodletting or the debatable classics like “Triumph of the Will” or “Broken Blossoms.” I’m talking about films that deliberately ridicule their audiences.
Different things are offensive to different people, but here are a few films that, anyway you slice them, offend:
“Song of the South” (1946)
Offensive To: African-Americans
Remember that episode of “The Simpsons” where someone explains the “evil gene” and how only Walt Disney and Adolph Hitler had it? Well here’s the proof for Disney, the film’s producer. “Song of the South” is incredibly insensitive, was picketed by the NAACP for good reason and has inspired a lifetime of deserved ridicule for Uncle Remus’s rendition of “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Da.” It’ll make you cringe a helluva lot more than “The Jazz Singer.”
“I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” (2007)
Offensive To: The LGBT community
My sister said her TV and DVD player simultaneously broke after watching this awful gay-joke of a movie. Serves her right. It’s a mockery of gay rights for the sake of an implausible scenario. We’re still laughing at two men kissing? It’s especially uncool after the passage of California’s Proposition 8.
“Rambo: First Blood Part II” (1985)
Offensive To: Liberals
John Rambo goes to Vietnam in 1985 to kill a shit ton of Vietnamese and Russians? That’s called a conservative wet dream.
“The Day The Earth Stood Still” (2008)
Offensive To: Conservatives
The left does have its share of insulting propaganda, but “The Day” happens to be the most puerile. When Keanu Reeves tells the human race that we’ve treated the Earth so badly that he must destroy it, we get it. Even Al Gore wasn’t this rigid.
Offensive To: Good taste
Violence can be a powerful cinematic device (“Bonnie and Clyde,” “Hostel”). But when a young woman graphically saws off a man’s leg with a wire — gag — the only question to ask here is why? Why!?
“Knocked Up” (2007)
Offensive To: Feminism
Katherine Heigl gives up her fast-track career, her dream of meeting a decent guy and all of her hopes and aspirations to rectify a horribly life-altering one-night stand? Oh, and this sucked as a date movie.
“The Other Sister” (1999)
Offensive To: The mentally challenged
When Robert Downey Jr. explained in “Tropic Thunder” that you “never go full retard” in a film, he was onto something. Mental retardation as a gimmick? See this film — or better, don’t — and you’ll get it. It’s self-explanatory.
“Van Wilder” (2002)
Offensive To: Education
Gratuitous flesh, bad Indian accents, bulldog semen consumption and enough laxatives to almost kill a dude: Yup, “Van Wilder” really is the voice of a post “Animal House” college generation isn’t it?
Offensive To: Intelligence
You’re thinking: “This is supposed to be stupid fun!” O.K. But anyone who can honestly sit through this unnatural disaster without the need to down liquor with some Advil is a stone liar. “Armageddon” was the arguable rotten milk that destroyed summer movies with quick cutting, bad writing and effects flaunting. It’s unbearable.