11 '90s Movie Quotes That Would Never Fly Today
Whether or not you're a film lover, you're probably familiar with many of the most popular '90s films — who doesn't love Clueless and Pulp Fiction, or the feminist 10 Things I Hate About You? Well, I hate to be a party pooper, but looking back at some of these beloved films, there is actually a lot of banter that ranges from the rather inappropriate to the blatantly sexist, racist, and homophobic squeezed in between the laughs and thrills. Some fans may wonder, why should I care? Isn't that era done and dusted? But I'd argue that the '90s never really disappeared, that it was a seminal age for popular culture with influence and impact, and of course, plenty of '90s movie quotes, that still reach us in 2016.
Since the '90s have been nostalgically revived and taken hold of by millennials, and given the fact that Hollywood continues to reinforce some the decade's best-known tropes (stereotypical men, undeveloped female characters, all-white casts), perhaps we should pause to reflect on how these outdated social values and identity norms resonate today. Below are 11 quotes I've pulled from some of the most popular movies from the '90s that just wouldn't fly today — well, I'd hope.
1. Pulp Fiction
In a rather unforgettable scene that involves the disposal of a young black man's dead body, Jimmie Dimmick — played by director Tarantino himself — demands of Samuel L. Jackson's character: “I wanna ask you a question. When you came pulling in here, did you see a sign in front of my house that said 'dead n*gger storage?' ”
Just not OK.
2. Varsity Blues
Charlie Tweeder: "Will you listen to me? Bitches are all just panty droppers. You understand? That's it."
Charlie Tweeder: "Listen. You give 'em a Percocet, two Vicodin and a couple of beers, and the panties drop. It's very nice."
Needless to add, this testosterone-filled "boys will be boys" conversation would not be OK today.
3. Fight Club
In a familiar misogynist trope, Tyler (Brad Pitt) attempts to denigrate the Narrator's (Edward Norton) new girlfriend, Maria (Helena Bonham Carter), who is getting in the way of their bromance, by saying, "She's a predator posing as a house pet." Ick.
4. American History X
Disturbingly, skinhead Derek Vinyard (Ed Norton again) sounds a lot like Donald Trump during one of his racist rants:
"Alright listen up, we need to open our eyes. There's over two million illegal immigrants bending down in this state tonight. This state spend three billion dollars last year on services, on people who had no right to be here in the first place... 400 million just to lock up a bunch of illegal immigrant criminals who only got in this country because the f*cking INS decided it's not worth the effort to screen for convicted felons."
As privileged rich kid Cher, Alicia Silverstone offers some of the worst female advice I've ever heard: "Sometimes you have to show a little skin. This reminds boys of being naked, and then they think about sex."
I can just hear Simone de Beauvoir sighing in her grave.
6. Ace Ventura, Pet Detective
The conversation below couldn't be more cringeworthy.
Woman: [after Ace has returned her dog] "Thank you Mr. Ventura. Is there any way I can repay you?"
Ace Ventura: "Well, a reward would be nice. I sustained some damage to my vehicle. Had to fill it with premium."
Woman: "Wouldn't you like me to take your pants off instead?"
7. There's Something About Mary
Besides the running joke about the semen stuck in Mary's (Cameron Diaz) bangs, apparently cheap potshots from creepy stalker Pat (Matt Dillon) at the mentally handicapped are also considered hilarious:
[after telling Mary that he's an architect]
Pat Healy: "Really, it's only a side thing for my true passion."
Mary: "And what's that?"
Pat Healy: "I work with retards."
Mary: "Isn't that a little politically incorrect?"
Pat Healy: "Yeah, maybe, but hell, no one's gonna tell me who I can and can't work with."
8. The World Is Not Enough
Julietta the Cigarette Girl: "Would you like to check my figures?"
James Bond: "Oh, I'm sure they're perfectly rounded."
Oh, come on.
9. Empire Records
A.J.: "What's with you? Yesterday you were normal and today you're like the Chinese guy from The Karate Kid. What's with you today?"
Gee, I don't know, A.J., I guess casual racism kinda bums me out. And Mr. Miyagi was Japanese, not Chinese.
10. 10 Things I Hate About You
Patrick: "What is it with this chick? She have beer-flavored nipples?"
More misogyny. Great.
11. Dazed And Confused
Wooderson: "That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age."
I'm not doubting Linklater's talent as a director, but there's something about Matthew McConaughey's character bragging about his conquests as an older guy that smacks of, um, statutory rape.
I love '90s movies as much as the next person — but not at the expense of a certain demographic or basic human respect. Really, in 2016, don't we all deserve better?
Images: Paramount Pictures (2); Giphy (9)