Why Movies Like “Clueless,” “Love Actually,” And “Grease” Just Don’t Hold Up Anymore

    “I think you can still enjoy things, but it really depends on how much of it is problematic and the way in which you’re consuming it.”

    On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed movies that don't quite hold up in 2021. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!

    Listen to BuzzFeed Daily on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever else you might listen to your favorite podcasts!

    So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to Buzzfeed’s Hannah Marder about why certain movies have not aged well. Here's some of what we learned:

    BuzzFeed News: You wrote a piece for Buzzfeed recently where you listed a bunch of movies that, at one time, were considered great movies, but that haven’t aged very well. What do you think it is about the last 5 or 10 years that have put so many of these offensive aspects into focus?

    Hannah Marder: I think getting more women behind the camera definitely helps. We still don't have a ton of female directors, and a lot of rom-coms and comedies that were on the list have male writers. So I think it's people seeing more movies that they're represented in and kind of comparing them to revisit the past that they didn't feel represented in. I know growing up, feminism was kind of a dirty word, and lately, in the last 10 years, it's become a lot more of something we're all thinking about. So I think talking about consent, #MeToo, and feminism has really helped us see these movies in a different light.

    BuzzFeed Daily: Misogyny and predatory behavior used to be much more acceptable, even a decade ago, and something that’s really shifted in the last few years is sexual politics. In your piece, you mention how in Beetlejuice, Winona Ryder’s character is a child bride and Beetlejuice is sexually harassing women for laughs; in Clueless, Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd’s characters have a romantic relationship, even though they were once step-siblings; and in the musical Grease there’s that song where the guys ask, “Did she put up a fight?” Why don’t you think people realized the problems in these movies at the time?

    Still of Josh and Chere from Clueless looking upset

    BuzzFeed Daily: Some people will say, “Everyone’s just too sensitive these days.” But I find that to be an incredibly reductive explanation for how the conversation has changed. Where do you think that defensiveness comes from?

    HM: I think it comes from people just wanting to enjoy the things that they enjoy and the comedy that's important to them, especially stuff that's nostalgic. If they grew up with a movie it probably has a special place in their heart. They don't want to be told they can't enjoy it. But I guess this goes into like, can you enjoy things that are problematic? But I think that you can point out the issues in something [without] necessarily always saying, "You're not allowed to watch this, you're not allowed to enjoy this." 

    So I feel like saying everybody's too sensitive is just a cop-out. I think, like you said, it's really reductive. I think that you're not really in a place to say somebody else is being too sensitive, if they're talking about a joke that's about a community you're not a part of. So I feel like it's more important to just listen.

    BuzzFeed Daily: There is a real debate to be had about whether it’s OK to enjoy these movies, despite their offensive moments. Because it seems like the more perspective we gain the more we realize that a lot of movies made in the past have something offensive about them. Do you think it’s possible to enjoy a movie even if a few moments are no longer acceptable?

    Still from Grease of one of the T-Birds singing "Tell me more, tell me more, did she put up a fight?"

    BuzzFeed Daily: There are a lot of romantic comedies where one of the characters will lie to or coerce another character, or even break the law, all in the name of love. This last one is gonna sting for some people, especially as we approach the holidays. But we gotta talk about Love, Actually. We’ve got Hugh Grant as the prime minister starting a relationship with one of his female employees, and of course, the famous “Cue Card” scene where a guy secretly tells his best friend’s wife that he’s in love with her. Why are scenes like these not OK anymore, even if their intentions were “pure”?

    Still from Love Actually of Mark holding up a cue card that says "To me, you are perfect"

    We also discussed Adele's interview with Oprah, in which she talked about how her looks have been dissected for years — including last year when a photo of her prompted a conversation about her weight loss.

    Photo of Adele in a black gown, holding up a microphone and smiling

    Plus, Dakota Johnson recently opened up about her grandmother Tippi Hedren’s working relationship with Alfred Hitchcock.

    Photo of Dakota Johnson in a gray suit, sitting in a chair, gesturing with her hand, and talking into a microphone

    As always, thanks for listening! And if you ever want to suggest stories or just want to say hi, you can reach us at daily@buzzfeed.com.