30 Times Your Favorite Kids Movies & TV Shows Were Way More Offensive Than You Remember

Nostalgia-watching is a favorite pastime of any film buff. Revisiting the movie or TV show you loved when you were 8 can transport you back to the mid-'90s in the best way. You can practically taste the Dunkaroos and Hi-C.

But sometimes, these blasts from the past are accompanied by uncomfortable realizations. The pop culture you loved when you were younger featured some seriously racist, sexist, or otherwise problematic moments. It's important to recognize that what we loved as kids might not have been as sweet or funny as we thought. Sometimes, the reason your parents tried to shield your eyes from certain flicks might have had more to do with the films' offensive ideas than adult content.

Let's hope that the next generation's onscreen favorites won't promote these kinds of damaging stereotypes. From the movies and TV shows aimed at adults that you caught after school to beloved Disney flicks, we've rounded up 30 deeply flawed pieces of pop culture.
1 of 30
Man of the House (1995)
It's like this movie exists solely to help grad students with their theses on cultural appropriation in the media. Someone green-lit this in your lifetime.
2 of 30
Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Nope. Nope nope nope.
3 of 30
Wish Upon a Star (1996)
The movie that introduced you to the concept of virginity if you skipped Hocus Pocus, this film features a heavy dose of slut-shaming. Alex isn't still a virgin because she hasn't felt ready or found a partner she wanted to sleep with, but because she "has morals."
4 of 30
Jungle 2 Jungle (1997)
The original title was going to be "Let's Laugh at Cultures We Don't Understand," but that was too long.
5 of 30
Clueless (1995)
El Salvador, Mexico, whatevs. Same difference, according to Cher.
6 of 30
Aladdin (1992)
If you watched the VHS version (a moment of silence for the old-school Disney clamshell) the lyrics had been changed. But if you saw it on the big screen, the opening number told you that the Middle East was "where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face." Yikes.
7 of 30
Peter Pan (1953)
I'm just gonna leave this here.
8 of 30
A Christmas Story (1983)
Your warm holiday memories aside, this is a scene featuring a bunch of white people laughing at Chinese people who are probably singing a song in English a lot better than the family could sing it in Chinese. Not quite the horror of Long Duck Dong, but close.
9 of 30
Pocahontas (1995)
There's adding insult to injury, and then there's adding music and a love story to the systematic destruction of indigenous people.
10 of 30
The Santa Clause (1994)
Kids movies always have less-than-100%-kid-friendly jokes for the benefit of parents, but two minutes into this holiday family film, there's a classic joke about a married boss doing it with his secretary. A+ Mad Men behavior in the '90s.
11 of 30
The Little Mermaid (1989)
Few of Disney's older movies are progressive as far as gender roles are concerned, but this is pretty blatant — Ariel trades her voice for a chance with a guy.
12 of 30
That '70s Show (1998-2006)
The show you had to watch behind your parents' back because of all the pot circles was actually way more likely to teach you reductive "funny foreigner" stereotypes than pro-drug sentiments.
13 of 30
Friends (1994-2004)
Probably not that dangerous to the developing '90s-kid mind — mildly sexual innuendo that went over their heads. Definitely dangerous — reinforcing old gender stereotypes.
14 of 30
The Swan Princess (1994)
Recap for those who missed this non-Disney princess epic. These two spend every summer together, always hated each other, and grow up into attractive adults. She rightly shuts down his shallow marriage proposal, which is based solely on her looks, and then, with no development whatsoever, they're both deeply in love. TEACH KIDS WHAT ELSE THERE IS!
15 of 30
The Amanda Show (1999)
Some costumes are just not okay, on Halloween or for a skit.
16 of 30
The Aristocats (1970)
This is the kind of racist depiction of Asian people that would (hopefully) get a kid today sent to some kind of cultural sensitivity workshop. And before you rationalize this is an older Disney movie, they wanted kids to "Sing Along" as recently as the late '80s/early '90s.
17 of 30
Sixteen Candles (1984)
In this John Hughes film, an Asian character is treated the way you'd treat a pet, is consistently mocked for his name, and is often introduced on screen with the sound of a gong.
18 of 30
Casper (1995)
There's the offensive and never-fun fat joke directed at an incredibly successful woman, and the Twilight-esque creepiness of a teen boy (dead or otherwise) sliding into a girl's bed while she's asleep.
19 of 30
Krippendorf's Tribe (1998)
What is the worst part of this trailer? White kids in brown face? How often the word primitive is thrown around? The fact that the white woman, while pretending to be a woman from New Guinea, is called a "sexy jungle lady"?
20 of 30
The Big Green (1995)
Cool, so the whole town's male population is just going to follow a woman jogging. That'll make her feel super safe and not at all objectified.
21 of 30
Switching Goals (1999)
Yes, there's the twin element to this phenomenon, but the overarching theme of every single Mary-Kate and Ashley movie is clear — there are two kinds of girls, sporty and girly. There is no crossover. Pick a side, and do it quick.
22 of 30
Can't Hardly Wait (1998)
Seth Green, what are you doing?
23 of 30
Boy Meets World (1993-2000)
Boy Meets World did a lot of things right during its seven-season run, and this episode gets off to a good start. A hard look at socioeconomic divides? Good idea. Educating kids about the genocide in Rwanda? Great! Having high school characters compare genocide to an awkward dinner? Not so great.
24 of 30
Harry Potter (2001-2011)
There's also the issue of recasting a white actress as Lavender Brown once she had a big story line, and the controversy over Cho Chang.
25 of 30
Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
Racial stereotypes with a side of sex crimes played for laughs.
26 of 30
The King and I (1955)
The score is amazing. The implication that it took a white Englishwoman to transform an Asian man from cruel to compassionate? Not so amazing.
27 of 30
Soul Man (1986)
Ohmygod. Yes, it was the '80s, a time when people thought it was okay to make a movie about a rich white guy donning blackface to get a scholarship. A movie that will now only be shown in "what were they thinking!?" film retrospectives.
28 of 30
3 Ninjas Knuckle Up (1995)
White kids call themselves ninjas while wearing Native American headdresses. It's worse than the most problematic Coachella attendee.
29 of 30
Dumbo (1941)
They actually named one of the crows "Jim Crow," just to make sure they weren't being too subtle with the racist undertones.
30 of 30
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993-1996)
There has been plenty of debate around the real meaning behind the colors, but the evidence seems pretty damning.

More from Entertainment


R29 Original Series