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Burn the Reel: Movies Which I Now Find Problematic

Author, poet, lawyer, former college football player, basic bro. I'm what you'd get if you crossed Nicolas Cage and Creed Bratton together

burnthereel

How many times have you watched a movie with friends or relatives and overheard the phrase, “Wow, they could never make this today!”?

I find this to be a frequent proclamation these days, even with films which are largely beloved classics. There is not doubt that the public’s taste in entertainment modifies overtime. However, the current push against some old movies, to cancel, edit or utilize disclaimers as a means to contextualize them so as they appear less harmful, is quite disconcerting— even a bit Orwellian at times.

Why is this happening? Is it because we’re once again experiencing humanity’s natural proclivity towards censorship, whenever there exists content that a majority or, more often, an intransigent ideological minority, deems detrimental? Perhaps it’s the narcissism which often plagues the culturally dominate generation—the self-righteous determination that we’re so much more enlightened and morally superior to our ancestors—leading us to adopt anachronisms as our mode of historical reflection. Or maybe it’s the now wider acceptance of post-modernist doctrine—its promotion for the deconstruction all aspects of society, including governmental, familial, educational and cultural intuitions.

I neither have the time nor the energy to engage in a philosophical debate on this issue. All I know is that this bothersome trend is continuing. But, as they say, if you can’t lick them, join them. This is why I’m going to give you a list of popular movies which are harmful and should be culturally discarded.

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You’ve Got Mail

I decided to start with You’ve Got Mail because I know that my attempting to cancel it is going to piss a lot of people off. In fact, I have several friends (all female) who swear that this is their favorite movie. However, this film is clearly problematic; and before you get all up in arms, let me first explain why.

During Meg Ryan’s opening monologue, she describes what it’s like to log-on to AOL (American Online), “I turn on my computer, I wait impatiently as it connects. I go on-line and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You've got mail. I hear nothing, not even a sound on the streets of New York, just the beat of my own heart.”

As someone who grew up during the early days of the internet, who used to sit patiently in front of the screen as the dialup tone blared, I can tell you that Meg Ryan’s excited reaction here was genuine. Hearing that voice chime, “You’re got mail,” did indeed peak one’s interest.

But that was back in 1998. Nowadays, I challenge you to find somebody in a first world nation who is excited to receive an email. Every time I open my inbox and see the flood of mostly useless jargon, I die a little inside. From the countless array of junk emails to work correspondence containing the habitual arrays of “per my last email” and “just following up.” It’s almost as if you’re drowning in a cybernetic flood of endless connectivity.

Moreover, back then, you could only use either your phoneline or internet, not both at once. This, along with the fact that smart phones didn’t exist, meant that you could escape your emails. Now, because of new technology, your emails are always with you, stalking you like a dementor as it slowly devours your soul. And don’t get me started on those sociopaths who essentially hoard e-mail notifications, with that ominous white and red number rising to sometimes the tens of thousands.

Thus, this movie is not conducive to modern sensibilities. It’s from a time when emails were novel and rare. I’ll admit that it does bring with it a brief nostalgia for simpler times. Nevertheless, when I watch a film, the goal is to escape reality, not to be made anxious by remembering that I have 5,000 unopened emails in my inbox. It’s why I think this movie should be cancelled.

Now, for those of you who really like the film, I would propose a compromise. Hollywood could do a reboot in which instead of the lovers communicating electronically, they do it via letters. I think this might actually work. I mean, I actually get excited when I receive a handwritten note now, which is strange because I used to feel the same way about traditional postage as I do about e-mails now. If we wanted to spice it up a bit, the characters could even send Poloroids of their junk to one another. It would function almost as a sort of social commentary, Boomers applying the Snap Chat nude phenomena to more traditional forms of communication. I’d pay to watch that movie.

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Home Alone 1 and 2

Let me recite the plot of these movies, and let’s see if you can spot what’s wrong. Two downtrodden men, individuals who’ve been abused and forgotten by the harsh nature of American society, are forced into a life of crime. Desperate, they decide to focus their sights on a wealthy suburb, an area they assume they can rob without causing much suffering. One night while breaking into the neighborhood’s most luxurious home, they are subjected to a range of hideous tortures designed by a sadistic little boy. The poor men face a life-and-death struggle to this one-percenter child’s, Jigsaw-like, twisted house of horrors.

Following this night of insurmountable suffering, society once again discards these unlucky souls, sending them straight to the slammer. They then catch a break, as they are able to escape to New York City. However, they struggle to make it in the absurdly expensive ‘Big Apple’. Their fortunes get worse when they discover that the insidious, pre-pubescent monster has pursued them here. Once again, they’re beaten and humiliated, not even granted the mercy of death by their sadomasochistic torturer. The kid ends the experience by convincing a homeless lady to unleash her army of pigeons upon them. They’re once again shipped off to prison, living out the rest of their Candide-like existence in perpetual misery.

Case closed.

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The Santa Clause

So, let’s break this down. In order to become the new Santa Claus, you essentially have to kill off the Santa Claus before you. In other words, this movie teaches children Santa Claus’s succession functions in the same manner as Roman Emperors did.

That’s not only horrifying, but it encourages ambitious children who want to take up the Claus mantel to stay up all night, armed and perched near their fire places, waiting to assassinate the old jolly tub of lard. I know, because I did this after I watched this movie.

Interesting side note—the original script actually had Tim Allen shooting Santa Claus after mistaking him for an intruder. They changed it because I don’t think Disney was thrilled with the idea of Santa getting capped on screen.

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Revenge of the Nerds

Full disclosure— I love this movie. The part where Lamar throws the javelin is one of my favorite scenes in all of cinema. That’s why it pains me so much to have to cancel this film. The problem with the film is that the power dynamic it predicts is now completely reversed. Let me explain.

Revenge of the Nerds illustrates the struggle against nerd oppression, and yes, the film’s characters actually use that language. This may have made some sense in the 1980’s, as it was in many ways the era of intense machismo. The issue here is that not only is this no longer the case, the roles have now been reversed.

Being “masculine” is often portrayed as a negative, perhaps even bordering on the “toxic” level. Just watch a recent Gillette commercial to get an inside look at this line of thinking. In contrast, the nerd is now clearly in charge. They fully control the tech industry, which in turn oversees and regulates all of our data. They utilize advanced algorithms to manipulate us, employing our trends and tendencies against us. They’ve even gone as far as to censor information and content they don’t like. The most powerful men on Earth right now are people like Jeffery Epstein companion Bill Gates, homeless Rasputin (Jack Dorsey), and the Reptilian Emperor (Mark Zuckerberg).

In our modern world, the nerd clearly reigns supreme.

In our modern world, the nerd clearly reigns supreme.

Just to be clear, I’m not advocating for either jock or nerd supremacy. I’m a former college football and club lacrosse player, so I certainly see things from jock perspective. However, I definitely, partially identify as a nerd, as I averaged a 3.97 GPA; and half of the You Tube channels I subscribe to are “Legend of Zelda” related. Being in this unique position of seeing things from both sides, I think what’s needed is a film which depicts society’s need for a healthy balance between jock and nerd.

Nerds are important. We need people like Alan Turing and Steve Jobs. But we can’t just let society be completely run by these people lest we become a bunch of pussies. We need the Alpha Betas of the world on the frontlines, for they’re the ones who’ll be doing the heavy lifting if we ever enter a hot war with China or Russia. You may think Ogre is a dick, but I’d love to see Putin step into the ring with him. No amount of Aikido skills would save the supposed strong man from getting his ass pummeled.

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Hence, though it’s unfortunate, it’s time we do away with Revenge of the Nerds.

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Every Pauly Shore Movie

Need I say more?

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The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises problematic nature stems from fact that the roles of the hero and the villain should be reversed. This becomes clear when we realize that Bane was decades ahead of his time.

First, the dude was never seen without a mask, which to many people living in 2020/2021, is the most noble and virtuous path anyone can undertake. Second, he did away with the city’s police force. Third, he completely locked down an entire city, forcing all its residences to stay indoors, to stay home, severely punishing those who ventured out unless they were a part of his movement. He shut down people’s businesses, making everyone more destitute. He then picked various individuals from Gotham’s elite and scapegoated them, putting them on trial for crimes against the people of the city whose woos were primarily a result of his policies. Bane was thus a true politician; a bald, roided-out version of Gavin Newsom.

Bane’s plan was to let chaos run rampant and let the city destroy itself, like Ted Wheeler’s Portland. Unfortunately, he was thwarted by that lunatic vigilante— the trust fund kid who fought to save the corrupt institutions which Bane was attempting to teardown.

Stupid Batman.

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Starship Troopers

Pretty much the same reasoning for The Dark Knight Rises applies to Starship Troopers. The bugs in this movie was merely trying to defend themselves from the Federation’s oppressive, colonial predations. I mean, can you really blame them for wiping out Buenos Aires? I suppose they could have chosen a better target, one which actually would have had the simultaneous effect of sending a message to and helping the humans, like wiping out Ohio or Detroit.

I’m also not a fan of the movie’s anti-insect propaganda. The scene were all those kids are stomping on cockroaches is particularly distasteful, especially considering the times. Starship Troopers was released in 1997, one year after the film Joe’s Apartment. The latter movie did much to heal relationships between humans and bugs, only for the former to decimate all that progress.

Hence, Starship Troopers should be cancelled—except the topless scene with Dina Meyer. That can stay. In fact, I’d be fine if that just became the entire movie.

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The X-Files

I’m primarily speaking about the first X-Files movie here; but this includes the television show, as well. You may be wondering how this franchise could possibly be problematic. This is because the series’ primary story arch deals with the Syndicate, a deep-state shadow government which hides its knowledge of extraterrestrial life from the public.

The problem is that the government is now acknowledging that UFOs are real and that the military has frequent encounters with them. In other words, the entire basis for this franchise has basically imploded. The future episodes which would possibly work would be the Syndicate handing Mulder a flash drive with all its knowledge about aliens and commanding him to, “Make sure every major news outlet in the world gets a copy of this.”

Honestly, I sort of miss the days when UFOs weren’t mainstream. When we could tell ourselves it was all a government conspiracy. Alas, the magic is now gone.

© 2021 RMS Thornton

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