Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The half-life of funny (to offensive)

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective made $72 million in 1994. (It was the 16th highest-grossing film in North America that year; for comparison's sake, Slumdog Millionaire was 16th last year and made $141 million.) And given that it was so popular, you'd think I would remember if it had earned any complaints or criticism for its rather questionable portrayal of a certifiably insane trans/queer villain and a homophobic hero. Here's a reminder of the latter:

I can easily imagine a character like Finkle/Einhorn still featuring in a comedy in 2009, but I can't fathom anyone including a scene like the one above. Ace's reaction was evidently thought harmless, even funny, by most audiences in 1994, but this sort of humor has all the charm of hate speech, today. And that's a really short turnaround, isn't it? To go from 'acceptable for a general audience to laugh at' to virtually unfilmable in 15 years?

(Or am I simply wrong in thinking that homo/transphobia can't be quite so obviously celebrated and laughed at anymore?)

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