15 Bafflingly Offensive Moments from Wholesome Franchises
Times change. Sometimes things that seem totally inoffensive are, just a few years later, incredibly shocking. This is at its most noticeable in largely wholesome, inoffensive entertainment — the kind of thing you throw on to keep some kids entertained when you have family visiting, only to hear them parroting 1970s gay slurs two hours later.
Nobody wants to be the one who accidentally teaches a kid how to be a dick, but it’s easily done. There are plenty of beloved family classics with extremely jarring moments of bigotry, hate speech and brazen misogyny played for laughs. The positive way of seeing it all is that we’ve come a long way. The less-positive way of seeing it is that, wow, people sure are shitty!
He’s Not Called Mike PeeCee
In the 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mike Teavee drops the R-bomb. He’s not meant to be a likable character, and that word used to be flung around like there was no tomorrow, but it still really jumps out.
Steven Spielberg supposedly didn’t want E.T. to receive a G rating, hence the memorable insult “penis breath.” Is it a mildly surreal childish insult or a nasty piece of homophobia? Either way, it’s pretty full-on!
The Santa Clause has a gag about BDSM-themed phone sex lines, with Tim Allen joking about the number 1-800-SPANKME. The gag has been removed from the Disney+ version, as it’s a real number that a bunch of kids have called.
Wrong Kind of Fun, Dude
The fairly wholesome dance-heavy teen rom-com Girls Just Want to Have Fun features Drew (Jonathan Silverman) tricking a girl into letting him feel her breasts. Then the movie just… continues. No comeuppance, no lessons, just a cheeky sexual assault.
Robots in Shitguise
While there are vastly worse words out there than “shit,” it’s a surprising one to hear in a kids’ animated movie. Transformers: The Movie does include one, though, supposedly to give it more marketing cred by avoiding a G-rating.
Crocodile Don’t Do That
Crocodile Dundee is a fish out of water in the city, but there are vastly more interesting ways to show this than the incredibly lame transphobia of the film’s hero grabbing a trans woman by the crotch for laughs.
Bill & Ted: No Homos
Think of Bill and Ted, and you think of two best friends. But in 1988’s Excellent Adventure, a joyful hug on discovering one another is still alive is immediately followed by gay slurs. Just hug your friends, you dicks!
There are a few moments in Ghostbusters that are odd to explain to a kid — Peter Venkman is pretty rapey — but the bit where Ray daydreams about being blown by a ghost is just, well, unnecessary.
Four Flipping Wheels and a Flipping Roof
There is almost no swearing in the magnificent Thanksgiving comedy Planes, Trains & Automobiles, apart from one truly incredible 19-fuck scene. It’s glorious, but must occasionally catch a new viewer really off-guard.
Nintendon’t Make False Accusations
The beloved feature-length Nintendo ad The Wizard has a jarring moment when Haley (Jenny Lewis) falsely accuses Mr. Putnam (Will Seltzer) of grabbing her breast, and it’s all played for laughs rather than, you know, fucking hell.
The Surreal Islamophobia of a Dog Basketball Classic
A brief glimpse of an obituary in Air Bud reveals, if paused, a whole host of oddly offensive details — the protagonist’s deceased father is said to have “flown ham to Muslims” and “became the first cross-dressing squadron leader in the world.”
Johnny 5 Is Alive… With Fury… at Hollywood’s Racially Insensitive Casting
Millions of kids wore their VHS copies of the two Short Circuit films down — they’re incredibly likable, exciting, funny films. But woof, the casting of Fisher Stevens in brownface as Indian engineer Ben Jabituya is pretty fucked, you know?
Age of Extinction, or Age of Consent?
Considering they are feature-length toy ads, it’s pretty bonkers how much time one Transformers film — Age of Extinction — dedicates to justifying adults having sex with under-18s. That’s not cool, Michael Bay.
Disney’s Love of Nonconsensual Kisses
Disney has made some of the most beautiful films of all time, beloved by generation after generation. The idea that if you see a beautiful woman asleep you should just plant one on her, however, is really fucked up.
In Fact, Most of Disney’s Back Catalogue Is From a Different Time
Whether it’s the racist stereotype characters in The Aristocats, Lady and the Tramp and Dumbo, or pretty much every frame of the happy-slave epic Song of the South, most beloved Disney classics require a big-ass conversation and reading list afterwards.