Home Films Lights, Camera, Controversy: These Movies Offend People

Lights, Camera, Controversy: These Movies Offend People

Monica September 6, 2023

Watching a good movie is one of the best ways to relax after a long day and spend time with friends and family. Sometimes, movies even make an emotional impact on us. They can make us cry, laugh, or feel afraid. Either way, there are certain movies we keep coming back to.

But there are others that we never want to see again, usually because they were offensive or just plain horrible. So we looked back at the movies that seriously offended more people than you might realize. The stars of these films might regret being in a movie that angered so many people, or maybe they don’t regret it at all. Check out these classics of controversy on the silver screen right here.

Bold Outlaw

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

There were several things wrong with the 1990 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It wasn’t just bad acting that earned the film criticism, but there were also incredibly offensive scenes. For starters, a scene towards the end of the movie portrayed male aggression and harming women. Even though it was supposed to be comedic, there’s nothing funny about the Sheriff trying to attack the female lead Maid Marian, who was saved by Robin. These aggressive, sexual references made the movie inappropriate for all ages and offended many viewers (via IMBD).


Lady and the Tramp (1955)

With the new “woke” culture coming out, even Disney classics aren’t safe from outrage. The Lady and the Tramp is an animated movie about a spaniel falling in love with a stray dog. The villains in the movie are cats, so it’s obvious that dog lovers made this movie. Cat lovers alone might hate the movie, but there are other reasons why it offended people. During one scene, Siamese cats perform a song called “We Are Siamese if You Please,” which was offensive to Asians. It seemingly perpetuates anti-Asian stereotypes, bringing to light the actual racism in Disney films (via CNN).


The Jerk (1979)

Though The Jerk is a comedy portraying Steve Martin, that doesn’t mean it didn’t offend people. He portrays a man who believes he was brought up as a poor child in Mississippi. This is the sort of movie that wouldn’t be remade in the same way today, considering how sensitive the topic is. Putting racism aside, it still wasn’t a hit with critics even though it did bring in over $100 million. It got mixed reviews in the 1970s, ranging from the film being “incredibly offensive” to “drop-dead hilarious” (via Quora).

Revenge of the Nerds

Revenge of the Nerds (1984)

Even though this movie portrays itself as a light-hearted comedy, it’s quite the opposite. Nerds aren’t supposed to be bullies, they’re the ones getting bullied. But in the movie, when they spy on a bunch of naked girls, it becomes a problem. Nowadays, this is considered a breach of someone’s boundaries and harassment, even if the 1980s audience thought otherwise. Other inappropriate scenes also made it into the movie. Director Jeff Kanew said, “I’ve heard [criticism] a lot this year because of the #MeToo movement… At the time, it was considered sort of a switch.” Things that were considered funny back then are not considered funny now (via Decider).


Grease (1978)

Grease is seen as one of the best movies of the 1970s. People couldn’t get enough of Danny Zuko and his lover Sandy. Viewers memorized the lyrics to all of the songs. But if you watched the movie nowadays, you’d realize how sexist it is. Not only does it portray male aggression, but it portrays racism, homophobia, and bullying. At least Olivia Newton-John, who portrayed Sandy, didn’t think it was offensive. She said, “It was a stage play, it’s a musical, it’s fun. It’s a fun movie musical not to be taken so seriously.” Besides, the movie came out several decades ago. Times were way different back then. In response to the critics they now call snowflakes, one viewer tweeted, “If you’ve ever felt joy while watching one of the greatest, most uplifting films EVER then I’m afraid you’re going to hell. Here’s an idea woke-sters: Go make your own musical” (via The Pink News).

NY Post

Bruno (2009)

Even though Sacha Baron Cohen is known for offensive films, he’s taken it to another level with Bruno. Not only are there raunchy, cruel jokes, but there are also obscene, naked scenes, which caused Ukraine to ban the movie. The main character, who’s straight, plays an outrageously gay character. We’re left wondering why it’s appropriate for the director to make these sorts of movies, and why he thinks it’s appropriate for us to laugh at them (via Reverse Shot).

Slash Film

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

There’s nothing new about culture wars. And many films out there have offended Christians for decades, which is why The Last Temptation of Christ caused such an uproar. The movie is loosely based on the Bible, with tension between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Is Christ imagining himself in inappropriate situations? Blasphemy! People felt so offended about the movie, they set fire to a Parisian movie theater screening the film. We understand feeling angry about a film, but this is taking it too far. Even though the movie had a disclaimer that said, “This film is not based on the Gospels, but upon the fictional exploration of the eternal spiritual conflict,” the directors of this movie threw themselves under the bus on this one (via Slash Film).

TV Tropes

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2000)

In this movie, two straight guys marry each other for the benefit of their children, who will then receive free healthcare. Even though it’s illegal and they’re committing insurance fraud, it’s just a movie. But the real offense is same-sex couples, who have fought for their right to get married out of love. The movie itself is unbearable to watch, not only because of how offensive it is, but because of its horrible acting. If it were made today, it wouldn’t survive a chance in the woke culture (via Hollywood in Toto).


Knocked Up (2007)

Many couples go through the stress of an accidental, unwanted pregnancy. Ben Stone, portrayed by Seth Rogan, gets a wake-up call to his party lifestyle when he gets his partner in a one-night stand pregnant. Even though the movie was hilarious and did well with critics, it still offended a lot of people. She said, “It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys. It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it, on some days. I’m playing such a b*tch; why is she being such a killjoy?” The movie impacted Katherine Heigl’s career, as it showcased her in a humorless light since the movie was sexist (via Decider).


Silence of the Lambs (1991)

This movie itself is not only terrifying but transphobic. Buffalo Bill portrays a transgender woman and it’s one of the main focuses of the entire movie. Considering it was the early 1990s, it was one of the first times a transgender person reached popular media. Not only that, but Hannibal Lecter didn’t help the cause with his nasty commentary throughout the movie. Still, most people only remember “a weirdo serial killer dancing around in women’s clothes” (via Screen Rant).


Dressed to Kill (1980)

In the 80’s, Dressed to Kill was one of the best, thrilling neo-noir movies out there. After a one-night stand, a woman witnesses a murder. But it’s not just any old thriller, the killer is a cross-dresser who kills women he finds attractive. The film offended people because of critics’ claims that it implies transgender people are the same person. The film faces claims of misogyny and transphobia. The sensory overload in the thriller is enough for us to shut it off and turn on something else (via The Guardian).

The London Horror Society

A Clockwork Orange (1972)

As one of the strangest movies out there, A Clockwork Orange also offended its viewers. The movie is just as remarkable as it is controversial, which stems from several disturbing scenes at the beginning of the movie. In some countries, it had to be edited down so as not to offend its viewers. More or less, it’s an irresponsible horror show that’s provocative, confusing at times, and inappropriate (via NY Times).

Films Deconstructed

Kids (1995)

Though this modern story depicts a lot of hardship like pain, drugs, violence, and tragedy, the movie offended people because there was no overlying message or lessons that usually come with depressing movies such as this one. For some reason, the directors decided to make a depressing movie but with no real motive other than to cause pain and sadness to its viewers. Furthermore, it was set during the AIDS crisis, another reason for its controversy (via Sun Stroke Magazine).


Sausage Party (2016)

We all know the phrase “sausage party,” since a lot of frat guys back in college used to describe their unsuccessful, man-filled parties as such. But the film Sausage Party made a lot of audiences roll their eyes thanks to its extremely inappropriate nature and offensive comments about every person in existence. Critic Stephen Humphrey said, “Unrelenting puns are the go-to jokes in this script, and each food or drink product is assigned a personality based on race.” Despite the humor, it was a horrible movie with bad acting and offensive, racist commentary (via Salon).


Planet of the Apes (1968)

Even though it’s a classic, the movie Planet of the Apes is controversial. We watch a couple of hours of light-skinned apes giving commands to dark-skinned apes. If you look at it like this, you’ll recognize just how racist the film is. Even though some people believe it’s worth a watch, people still struggle with watching the film. Basically, “it’s about the state of the human condition and how there’s something rotten and inescapable deep down” (via Collider).


Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

If you haven’t seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s, you’re probably part of the one percent that hasn’t seen it. And no one said it was a bad movie, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t offensive in some way. Mickey Rooney wore fake teeth and pretended to be a Japanese man in an incredibly offensive way. Not only that, but he harassed Holly Golightly, which makes us wonder if his scenes will be cut in the future. The film also depicted racism and discrimination. It’s probably thanks to the soundtrack that the movie made it as far as it has (via Stanford Daily).


The Birth of a Nation (1915)

This silent film does much more than make people think, it revolutionized an entirely new way of movie-making. Despite all of the praise, The Birth of a Nation is incredibly racist. Most of the actors are portrayed as uncivilized and aggressive. Author Ellen Scott of Cinema Civil Rights said, “This film depicts lynching as a positive thing,” she says. “The politics of the film was essentially to say certain black people are worthy of being lynched. In that sense, it’s extremely racist.” Some believe it was the most racist movie ever made (via BBC).

Roger Albert

Sixteen Candles (1984)

In the film Sixteen Candles, one character steals another character’s pants, and eventually, he trades his drunk girlfriend for his pants back. Even though later scenes show the girl with her dress bunched up around her thighs, indicating a serious harassment scene, it still became an iconic example of teen movies in the 1980s. The movie overall was seriously problematic. One of the characters says, “I’ve got Caroline in the bedroom right now, passed out cold. I could violate her 10 different ways if I wanted to,” which would not fly in any movie nowadays (via Elle).

The Tab

Cuties (2020)

Even though French movies usually do pretty well, Cuties did not. The movie showcases children in a twerking dance show, portraying them in a wildly inappropriate light. The kids bite their lips, squat, and bite their lips. The directors called it a “free-spirited” dance crew, even though the kid involved with the crew is merely 11 years old. Capitol Hill has started investigating the movie. It’s not a subtle movie (via USA Today).

Roger Albert

Manhattan (1979)

We’re going full-on Woody Allen in the movie Manhattan, which received a lot of backlash. Even though it didn’t receive much attention at the time the directors released it, decades later, people decided it was an unacceptable movie portraying Allen’s love interest. It was an older man dating a younger woman. It’s old news and something that’s been happening for centuries, though people suddenly decided to revisit its female characters and feel offended (via Alex Sheremet).

The Austin Chronicle

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

None of The Transformers films are that great. But the worst one of all is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. This is thanks to its horrible acting and racist robots called Skids and Mudflap. The directors even made them illiterate, with bucked teeth. They’re annoying and unintelligent, and their names are even suggestive of inappropriate things (via Complex).


The Last Samurai (2003)

In The Last Samurai, Tom Cruise portrays an ex-military with zero purpose in life. But his entire life changes when a clan takes him to help preserve the Samurai way of life. Not only is it historically inaccurate, but it’s offensive and racially insensitive. Despite the wrong facts, it won four Academy Award nominations. As one Rotten Tomatoes review puts it, it was a “white guy savior to the heathen natives.” At the very least, it’s not as offensive as some of the others on this list, and it seems to have disappeared from the spotlight (via Movie Web).

The New Yorker

Mother (2017)

Jennifer Lawrence stars in Mother. The entire movie is representative of Mother Earth and the way humans constantly mistreat her. There are some serious controversies depicted in this movie, though critics couldn’t understand the obvious metaphor. They claimed the movie was sexist, though that was far from the point (via Quora).


Cruising (1980)

Al Pacino stars in this tense thriller Cruising, who plays an undercover cop who pretends to be a gay man. He uses this tactic to capture a murderer that targets other gay men. The movie wasn’t particularly successful, and at the time of release, it angered gay activists thanks to the murderer, who was gay. Some people called it a “homosexual horror film.” Other critics said, “[Cruising] promises to be the most oppressive, ugly, bigoted look at homosexuality ever presented on the screen…” Maybe it’s best to skip this one (via Collider).


Me, Myself & Irene (2000)

The film Me, Myself & Irene is about a man with schizophrenia. That’s not the offensive part, the offensive part is the way it’s portrayed. It’s a misconception that people with schizophrenia have multiple personalities, and the film portrays it the wrong way. It even went so far as to have taglines like, “from mental to gentle,” and even makes fun of yeast infections and obesity. It wasn’t common in the year 2000 to bat an eye when someone offended someone with a mental disorder, which is something that wouldn’t fly now (via NY Post).


White Chicks (2004)

The film White Chicks portrays two black detectives who go undercover as two white women. The film makes fun of white stereotypes, which would never be made nowadays, considering how offensive it is. The NY Times famously said, “Most movies require some suspension of disbelief. But White Chicks […] requires something more radical than that. A full-frontal lobotomy might be a good place to start.” Comedies from the early 2000s are just not worth watching anymore, especially because of how many better ones there are out there (via Movie Web).

Roger Albert

Basic Instinct (1992)

Despite the famous Sharon Stone flash, this film is offensive. It portrays women and lesbians from the LGBTQ community in a bad light. Directors weren’t supposed to show the scene that made her famous, and they went against their word (via Decider).


Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

The second Ace Ventura was much better than the first one. The directors built the plot around offensive phobias. For example, Ace scrubs his mouth after he realizes he kissed a transgender woman. The movie was long and unfunny. If you’re going to spend your time watching a movie, there are much better ones out there (via Secret Life of Mom).

The Guardian

Freaks (1932)

This 1932 film portrays a circus performer who plans to murder one of her fellow performers, all in the name of money. Even in the 1930’s, people considered the film controversial, and it’s grown worse as the years have passed. Many people found it offensive because it showcases real performers in circus freak shows. There was a bearded lady, Siamese twins, and an “armless wonder.” It was even banned in Britain and various states in Australia and America (via Collider).

Warner Bros

Blazing Saddles (1974)

The concept of Blazing Saddles was controversial, and if it were attempted to be released today, it wouldn’t make it very far. It contains explicitly racist scenes. Classic Movie host Jacqueline Stweart said, “Absolutely nothing is off limits, and jokes can tackle every sensitive subject.” It was sprinkled with social commentary regarding societal issues, though there are still people who are diehard fans of the film (via The Wrap).