Last year, we took down Ross Geller from Friends and Ian Fleming’s 007. I’ve discovered three more that grate modern sensibilities.
As we’re still in the dawn of the new year, we’re yet to see just what modern sensibilities we millennials are going to retroactively apply to previously accepted entertainment standards. Scandalous. So far, we’ve taken down Ross from Friends and 007 from your mum’s bed, and your dad’s heart, but that shit is so last year.
So, in no particular order, consider the following collection the things we’re totally going to lose all of our particulars over in the coming year. Trigger warning.
Exhibit A – Arthur Fonzarelli
Let’s do the maths here. His friends are all high school students, and he conducts all his business in the toilet of a restaurant– frequently involving vandalism and the aggressive fondling of the student body. Ostensibly, he’s all the way toxic as fuck, a bully implementing his rule through the threatening of children and riding a motorcycle down a flight of stairs.
There are many examples, but have a peep at the below tableau, Cunningham. I mean, it has it all: toxic masculinity, threats of violence, harassment, and perhaps something verging on sexual assault.
Sit on it, Fonzie.
Exhibit B – Henry Higgins.
Just you wait. The central antagonist of My Fair Lady is Henry Higgins, a man of education, booze, finery and gambling with human flesh. He’s a prick, legendarily played by another prick, Rex Harrison. (Quick side note, the man hated agreeing to Dr Doolittle so much that he spent his non-shooting days getting smashed and sailing his yacht into the background of the shots they were filming.)
But, I digress. In My Fair Lady, Higgins makes a bet with a retired military type that he could turn any old slapper into a lady of finery, because it’s the English Empire and manners are all we have, old bean. Higgins finds his likely target in Eliza Doolittle, which he views as a slovenly flower girl, not the independent woman (and small business owner) who wants to better herself. He’s so enamoured in his new project (and her lack of education) that he threatens to murder her over the purported violence she committed to a subjective standard of values: language.
Cool? From there, he takes her into his employ, and indeed his house, where she undergoes speech therapy (and yet more verbal abuse) en route to Higgins parading her around the Ascot stuffery, because he has the means, and she thinks she wants. This is all in pursuit of this bet, mind, which has the pangs of a modern contemporary example. The elderly white man using his powers to hoodwink and keep a woman while vastly changing her appearance for monetary gain has a touch of the Harvey’s about it. I mean, yes, he didn’t spill his seed in a pot plant, but this is Hollywood. Wait.
Anyway, like all great toxic relationships built on abuse, she leaves and the abuser doesn’t understand why. Suddenly, it’s all Eliza’s fault, and women are the problem. Classic neckbeard move.
That song, man. Anyway. So, following the cliff notes of an abusive relationship, Rex realises that he needs her, she finds someone else, carrying what she’s experienced, before, bitterly, returning to her abuser, who, in that final moment, realises that he’s won, reestablishing the initial pattern of toxic behaviour.
Exhibit C – The Kinks Lola
Bruh. The standard method of modern discourse is “if you don’t know something, ask a person who identifies as that to explain it for you; don’t just assume, and certainly don’t put it in a song, man.” The Kinks are front-and-centre to this problem, as their kink solely swirls kept in ignorance and unfair gender stereotypes.
Well, I’m not dumb but I can’t understand
Why she walk like a woman and talk like a man
Oh my Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola
First: fuck you, don’t tell me how to walk. But later in the song, they decide that the contours of gender aren’t that big of an issue, touting:
Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls
It’s a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world
Except for Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola
Considering the first stanza, this would mean that the writer is in denial about Lola.
So, everyone can be whoever they want to be, except for Lola. Lo lo lo lo Lola.