The desire to telegraph a great deal about a character in a short amount of time can leave a writer open to using cultural stereotypes. It’s human and we all do it. But so is shitting our pants when we’re babies and eventually, we grow out of that. (Until we’re old and senile like Andy Rooney. Then we can shit all over whoever we want and CBS will apparently pay us for it.) So, in the interest of helping us all grow the fuck up, Guanabee has compiled an educational list featuring our 20 favorite outdated stereotypes from television and films both recent and past. It should be noted that a lot of these movies are really quite good, despite their cultural faux pas. While others of them (cough! Norbit cough!) are all that remains of a talent that once shone bright as the stars. Sigh. Anyway! Please join us after the jump as we count the 20 Most Outdated Stereotypes In Film And Television.
1. Song Of The South (1946) - Uncle Remus, The Disney Uncle Tom
Disney’s Song of the South starring James Baskett as Uncle Remus is a little known film that introduced the world to, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”—the song of the happy slave. The film was groundbreaking at the time for its mixture of live action and animated characters, but rather old hat in its use of Uncle Tom, Massa and an actual Tar Baby. While it’s by no means the only racist Disney vehicle, it may be the one upon which their entire creative model was founded.
2. The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948) - Gold Hat, The Dirty Mexican
The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre features the famous line, “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges” uttered by Alfonso Bedoya who apparently inspired “Ask A Mexican’s” logo. If we had a nickel for every time a drunk spring breaker shouted this line at us in Matamoros, Mexico, we’d have a lot of nickels. He’s the quintessential dirty Mexican.
3. “Speedy Gonzales” (Debuted 1953)- Little, Brown, Mexican Rodent
We’re going to say it now. We fucking love Speedy Gonzales. Precisely because he is a stereotypical poor Mexican with an exaggerated accent who is STILL quicker than all the gringo cats. But let’s face it, that’s not exactly what most Americans think of when they think of Speedy. Oh, and let’s not forget his cousin Eslow Poke Rodriguez.
4. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) - Mickey Rooney As Mr. Yunioshi, The Strict, Japanese Landlord
Not much needs to be said about Mickey Rooney’s performance here. Not only is he not Japanese, but he goes out of his way to perform a caricature of a human being. Not really sure if this was even funny in 1961.
5. Deliverence (1972)- The Inbred Southerner
Imagine a movie made in 1972, at the height of the Black Panther movement, where four suburban guys get lost in the projects of Detroit and are sodomized by an inbred black family. Yeah, it never would have happened.
6. Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie (1980) - Cheech, The Drugged-Out Cholo With The Ridiculous Accent
We saw an interview once with Cheech Marin where he said he was literally coaxed into being more and more cholo with this character to sell it better. Today Cheech has a serious career as a Mexican sidekick (sigh), but he will never be as beloved as when he played the unemployable pothead from L.A.
7. Scarface (1983) - Tony Montana, The Greasy, Immigrant, Latino Drug Lord
We know we’re going to get some flack here. Latinos love to claim Tony Montana more than white guys love to think of all Latinos as greasy drug dealers. But the truth is, he’s a despicable character and one of the only ways that Hollywood will represent Latinos on the big screen. Put that in your straw and snort it.
8. Police Academy (1984) - The Kinky, Gay Predator
The “Blue Oyster” gay bar scene in Police Academy was such a successful joke, it was referenced again in at least one more sequel. Two antagonist characters accidentally walk in and are held hostage by the horny, gay patrons looking to make them their bitches. Cuz that’s what happens at gay bars.
9. Sixteen Candles (1984)- Long Duk Dong, the Asian Über-Nerd
We have to admit that the character of Long Duk Dong is as beloved to us as any hit song from the 80’s. And we were so judgmental of Mickey Rooney’s Asian character in Breakfast At Tiffany’s! Looking at it now, though, kind of makes us—okay, it still makes us laugh.
10. Pretty Woman (1990) - Vivian, The Hooker With A Heart Of Gold
Pretty Woman wouldn’t be such an affront if it wasn’t so critically lauded. It literally was Julia Roberts’ star vehicle. Well, at least it gave Richard Gere the chance to graduate from his star vehicle in American Gigolo.
11. The Birdcage (1996)- Agador, The Barely Housebroken, Gay, Guatemalan Houseboy
It’s bad enough that the character of Agador the Guatemalan is a houseboy to two rich, white guys, can’t walk in shoes or wear a shirt comfortably, but he’s also played by a Jew. Not too culturally sensitive there, producers.
12. The Waterboy (1998) -Bobby Boucher, The Dumb Cajun Southerner
There aren’t a lot of people out there defending Cajuns, but we’re going to. This falls under the second most accepted stereotype in all of America—the dumb, white southerner. (The first is coming up, natch.) Sure, Bobby Boucher has a heart of gold and is the hero of the movie, but does his mama have to hate readin’ so?
13. The Sopranos (1999-2007) - The Italian-American Crime Family
We know we’re treading on thin ice here, but America’s love of seeing Italians kill each other and everyone else has got to stop. It’s the most culturally accepted, nay applauded, stereotype in all of America as far as we’re concerned. And sadly, some of the most lauded Italian-American actors of our time continue to reinforce the stereotype over and over again. After all, what other roles will they be offered? Do they even know how to act without the accent and the gun?
14. Shrek (2001) - Donkey, The Wisecracking, Black Sidekick
Eddie Murphy appears twice on this list and it’s no wonder. The comic genius who created Delirious and Raw is now the minstrel willing to do any dance for a buck from the studio. And what character could be more tired in America today than the black sidekick? Even in donkey form.
15. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) - Pagoda, The Quirky, Exotic, Indian Manservant
Wes Anderson, director of the The Royal Tenenbaums, is sort of responsible for the quirky asian character’s rise to popularity in the last decade. Since Bottle Rocket he hasn’t really been able to get away from them. They kind of just stand in the background without too much to say. Like furniture. Or they play the brainy math teacher or bookstore attendant. He claims to love them, but they never get more screen time than a prop. And unfortunately he’s influenced an entire generation of advertising creatives. Like the guys who wrote all those retarded Virgin Mobile Chrismahanukwanzakah ads a few years back. Thanks, Wes.
16. Lost In Translation (2003)- The Entire Country Of Japan As Comic Fodder
This movie actually goes so far as to have Bill Murray mock a prostitute for ordering him to “lip” her stalkings. There’s also the flaming Japanese TV show host, the über hipster Japanese director (who says “lat pack”) and the crazy titty bar that introduced the world at large to Peaches (a Canadian.)
17. A Shark’s Tale (2004) - The Italian-American “Shark”
See the Soprano’s write up above. Voicing the dad in this crime family is Robert De Niro, of course. This time, the writers don’t even bother to hide the idea that Italians=sharks.
18. Spanglish (2004) - Flor, The Hot, Latin Maid Who Barely Speaks English
Latinas have made there way up in the world from the asexual, plump maid who crosses herself when the white protagonist does something funny to the skinny, hot maid who might fuck you. Rejoice!
19. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) - Borat, The Eastern European Bohunk
Sacha Baron Cohen plays the culturally clueless Kazakhstani who goes to America on a learning expedition while exposing his hosts to the way things are done in his country: incestous affairs with one’s sister, naked fighting with co-workers and the ritualized vilification of Jews. The country of Kazakhstan sued Cohen and the producers for defamation. Need we say more?
20. Norbit (2007) - Rasputia, The Fat, Black Bitch
Norbit is, in our opinion, Eddie Murphy’s lowest public moment. And we are including the tranny incident. An entire movie making fun of fat, black women? What’s next a movie about how smelly the homeless are?