The nineties brought us many things: the Spice Girls, Ellen, and a ridiculously frivolous, metallic-clad popular culture. It also brought us political correctness. Everything and everyone was filled with sweetness, delight and the dreaded, nefarious “tolerance.” Few people – and movies – dared break the mold of the “United” States of America. When artists did, however, it was ingloriously hilarious, as happened when Don Roos, Lisa Kudrow, Christina Ricci and the rest of the wonderful The Opposite of Sex cast hit the big screen. Let us revisit that Golden Moment.
I’ve always been the type of man to watch a beloved movie again and again. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the circa-1980 Spider-Woman cartoon starring Joan Van Ark, and Saturday mornings during my formative adolescent years were spent with a VHS of The Breakfast Club, mostly because I had the hots for Judd Nelson. Thus, it’s not surprising that I spent some of my weekend revisiting the aforementioned The Opposite of Sex, which I’ve seen at least 20 times. And, I have to say; it made me wish we lived in a simpler, less politically correct time.
“I’m just askin’ that you stand by your man, like I’m standin’ next to you! You know, a lot of guys, man, they woulda said that, ‘Shucks, man, she took up with them homosexuals. You know, she turned her back on righteousness.’” That’s just one of the many off-color, simply hilarious lines in Roos’ 1998 flick. Then there’s this, from a gay character explaining why he won’t have sex with Ricci’s character, “I’ve never tried communism, but I know I wouldn’t like that. It’s the same thing. Or grits.” It’s entirely absurd, yes, and outright offensive. But that’s the beauty of this and other movies that tackle controversial subjects with a tongue firmly in cheek.
Yes, movies today peddle in politically incorrect material: The Hangover provides a great example. One character mused, “I always wondered why they were called roofies, ’cause you’re more likely to end up on the floor than the roof. They should call ‘em floories,” to which another fool, replied, “Or rapies.” It’s funny, right!? Yes, I think so, and even when I was a teenager, watching Opposite for the first time, I realized that the offensive comments were nothing of the sort: they were prods in an otherwise immovable, exclusionary American culture. Sadly, gay-themed incorrectness doesn’t always go over well with the GLAAD-set. That’s too bad, because we need more humor to take down all the hate in the world.
From The Opposite of Sex to But I’m a Cheerleader and my friend Ash Christian’s Fat Girls, cinematic expressions have proven to be quite powerful in shattering stereotypes and fighting rampant homophobia, just as Richard Pryor, Paul Mooney and Dave Chappelle have done with racism. Sadly, there aren’t enough entries in this genre, and I sincerely hope that a new generation of filmmakers can find the balls to throw discrimination, ridiculous stereotypes and backward assumptions back in America’s face. It would do the world some good.
If you’re not familiar with The Opposite of Sex, here’s the trailer. Ignore the terrible narrator, please….