Director Gus Van Sant’s 1998 film “Psycho” caught plenty of heat before it even hit theaters.
Why would anyone, even a talented filmmaker like Van Sant, create a shot-for-shot remake of a horror classic? What’s the point?
Turns out Van Sant was edgier than we thought. After all, he did make star Vince Vaughn dress up in Mother’s clothes during that iconic shower sequence.
That’s not what you’ll see on the A&E series “Bates Motel.” The TV prequel to the “Psycho” film franchise opted against having star Freddie Highmore (AKA Norman) dress up like Mummy to take out Marion for a new generation.
The show’s creators wanted to create some distance between the original and the new version. Plus, the scene might reinforce a transphobic narrative created by that dastardly director Alfred Hitchcock, according to “Bates Motel” showrunner Kerry Ehrin. “[We wanted] to tell a different story than the woman being the victim,” she told IndieWire.com.
Thematically, Ehrin was also very conscious not to reinforce a transphobic narrative — an accusation attached to “Psycho” because of how it demonizes a man when he identifies as a woman. In the film, Norman is dressed as his mother when he kills people, including Marion. Because Norman himself is innocent when identifying as a cisgender male and murderous when he identifies as a woman, one could argue “Psycho” propagates fear of trans individuals and supports a heteronormative viewpoint.
With that in mind, let’s revisit seven other classic movie scenes that might enrage social justice warriors today.
- “Frankly my dear …” -- It’s the capper to one of Hollywood’s greatest screen romances. “Gone With the Wind” ends with Clark Gables’ immortal kissoff to Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett. She asks him, “Where should I go? What should I do” in pleading fashion. His response? “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Feminists would roar against a woman appealing to a man for guidance, period.
- “Do you feel lucky, punk?” -- The whole notion of a rogue cop named Dirty Harry would demand trigger warnings in our “Black Lives Matter” society. Even worse? Clint Eastwood’s Harry taunting a bloodied black man reaching for a weapon in 1971’s “Dirty Harry.” That just won’t do, unless Harry ended the movie behind bars. Or six feet under.
- Bo Derek’s a “10” … but that hair! -- Dudley Moore became a superstar following the 1979 comedy “10.” So did Bo Derek, the flawless beauty he chased after on that beach. But look at her hair with all those cornrows! That’s cultural appropriation 101, using beads more commonly embraced by nonwhite cultures as a style marker.
- “Shoot the N-word” -- There’s so much about Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” that couldn’t be recreated today. Let’s focus on the arrival of the town’s new black sheriff. The N-word gets a thorough workout, pointing to the ignorance of the locals. And then the classic Cleavon Little line, “Excuse me while I whip this out…” would be blasted as playing into stereotypes about black machismo.
- Marilyn meets that iconic grate -- “The Seven Year Itch” delivered the indelible image of Marilyn Monroe struggling to retain her modesty while air whushed up her skirt from a subway grate. In context, it let the film’s protagonist (Tom Ewell) ogle Monroe’s character without getting to know her intelligence, morals or wit. This kind of overt objectification plays directly into our patriarchal society.
- “Springtime for Hitler” -- You’d think this Mel Brooks concoction from “The Producers” would be daffy enough to avoid modern-day censors. Want proof that isn’t the case? Consider the New Jersey High School that banned the use of swastikas in a high school production of the musical version last year. Today, Hitler is conveniently weaponized by progressives. When Tim Allen evoked the Nazi era he got slammed by the Anne Frank Center. Sean Spicer’s recent Hitler analogy sparked a wave of “oh my goodness, I’m so sorry” speeches. SJWs might let a new take on “Springtime for Hitler” pass … but nothing is certain.
- Lloyd Dobler’s boombox: -- The 1989 romance “Say Anything” is a romantic touchstone for anyone who grew up in the ’80s. Yet the film’s signature scene -- John Cusack holding up his boom box so Ione Skye’s character can hear their song -- smacks of stalking to some modern eyes. No means no, and if you have to wake up your ex-girlfriend in the middle of the night that’s crossing a serious line.