A few years ago, actress Keira Knightley announced that she refused to allow her young daughter to watch certain Disney animated films because she didn’t like the messages they were sending to young girls. Naturally, this caused howls of outrage from the usual suspects ranting and screaming about “PC run amok” and “Feminazis at it again.” Normally, I’d side with the detractors that this was another example of someone pushing their modern sensibilities onto older films, but in this particular case, I have to agree with her. Disney princess movies from the past may have enchanted all of us when we were younger, but unfortunately, many of these films also contain outdated and in some cases troubling messages that should make any parent take pause, and for the following reasons:
Like everyone else, growing up I had it beaten into my head that certain movies were the cream of the crop of cinema and above criticism. One of those films is Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men (1957). The movie has such a reputation as an undisputed masterpiece that it has one of the highest ratings at the IMDB.
Two years ago, I posted a long ass diatribe attacking James Cameron’s detractors after they came after him for comments about Wonder Woman. I thought I was done with this topic, but then recently stumbled across this: Motherhood in Film & Television: Is Terminator’s Sarah Connor an Allegory for Single Mothers? It’s an old essay, yes, and it’s not even really negative. However, it seems that in trying to provide balance towards Sarah Connor in the form of criticism, it did it by using fauxminist talking points. Before I explain why this was a huge problem for me, I have to explain what fauxminism is in the first place.
A few years ago, I discovered The Detective (1968) for the first time when it aired on the Movies network. When it first started, I thought it was going to be a very middle of the road mainstream police movie. Instead, I came across a movie that shocked the hell out of me on many levels, even though it was released in a time when movies were nowhere near as gritty and envelope pushing as they are today.
WARNING: Please do not read this essay if you’ve never watched Fight Club, as it contains major spoilers.
Let’s face it–movies aren’t credible sources of information. Either they oversimplify reality or stretch credulity to its limits. The last thing anyone should be doing is looking to any movie as reference. However, having actually studied psychology in college, I think that Fight Club (1999) might be the exception to the rule. I don’t think I have ever seen a movie that explored so many complex theories with such depth and clarity. The film does such a good job, in fact, that I think it would be great required viewing in any Psych 101 class.
I never thought in a million years I’d be defending Showgirls (1995). Although a fan of Verhoeven, I absolutely loathed his collaboration with Joe Eszterhas and couldn’t stand how Basic Instinct kept being passed off as this sophisticated erotic film noir when getting down to it, it was nothing more than a cheap, tawdry sex fantasy. So, when this second collaboration of theirs came out to instant scorn, I thought, “Finally. Hollywood has woken up to what a hack and creep Eszterhas is,” and passed on the movie.
I have a confession to make: I absolutely love the Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto franchises. Charlie Chan was a lot more personable than Sherlock Holmes and injected lots of humor into the otherwise dour murder mystery genre. As for Mr. Moto, he was a groundbreaking character. Years before James Bond, Man from UNCLE, The Saint and Mission Impossible, there was the diminutive Japanese secret agent spying on behalf of Interpol (the Japanese government in the novels) fighting spies and agent provocateurs.