[Ed. – The most galling part of this bit of soul-searching is that the people asking these questions are the same ones who accuse Donald Trump of being Hitler. But Hitler, like them, had no qualms about burning books he found offensive.]
The 1940 movie “The Philadelphia Story” opens with a case of domestic assault played for laughs — Cary Grant shoving Katharine Hepburn to the ground by her face while a jaunty musical score plays.
Eight decades later, the movie is clearly two things: uneasy fare for a post-#metoo culture — and an enduring American classic. And it’s far from the only example of such things.
They exist throughout society’s pop-culture canon, from movies to TV to music and beyond: pieces of work that have withstood time’s passage but that contain actions, words and depictions about race, gender and sexual orientation that we now find questionable at best.
Whether it’s blackface minstrel routines from Bing Crosby’s “Holiday Inn,” Apu’s accent in “The Simpsons,” bullying scenes in “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the arguably rapey coercion of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “Sixteen Candles” or the simplistically clunky gender interactions of “Mr. Mom,” Americans have amassed a catalog of entertainment across the decades that now raises a series of contentious but never-more-relevant questions:
What, exactly, do we do with this stuff today? Do we simply discard it? Give it a free pass as the product of a less-enlightened age?