12 Most Racist Movies of All Time According to IMDb

Ephraim Obare
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Welcome, movie fans, to our unapologetically honest and slightly cheeky tour of the 12 most racially insensitive movies ever, as per IMDb. Buckle up because we’re about to navigate some choppy cinematic waters.

We’ll be analyzing films that, while they may have made their mark in Hollywood, have also stirred considerable controversy with their racial overtones. From shocking stereotypes to insensitive portrayals, these movies certainly didn’t shy away from controversy.

The Birth of a Nation (1915)

The Birth of a Nation (1915)
The Birth of a Nation (1915)

This D.W. Griffith classic is infamous for its depiction of African-Americans as brutish and unintelligent, while Ku Klux Klan members are heralded as heroes.

Wikipedia notes that The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is depicted as a heroic force, seen as vital to upholding American values, safeguarding white women, and upholding white supremacy.

Song of the South (1946)

Song of the South (1946)
James Baskett, Bobby Driscoll, Glenn Leedy, and Luana Patten in Song of the South (1946)

Disney’s controversial film is criticized for its romanticized portrayal of plantation life in the post-Civil War South.

According to Screen Rant, transporting us to the Reconstruction era, the movie captivates with its vivid imagery. However, it alarmingly romanticizes plantation life, fostering a disturbing nostalgia for a time marred by slavery. It boldly portrays this dark past as the “good old days,” leaving viewers with unsettling thoughts.

The Jazz Singer (1927)

The Jazz Singer (1927)
Eugenie Besserer and Otto Lederer in The Jazz Singer (1927)

Known as the first “talkie,” this film also features Al Jolson in blackface, singing songs of minstrelsy.

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Gone with the Wind (1939)
Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, and Peaches Jackson in Gone with the Wind (1939)

Despite its cinematic acclaim, the film is frequently criticized for its benign depiction of slavery. Euronews states that the 1939 American epic drama has stirred controversy due to its portrayal of slavery in the American South, receiving criticism for its seemingly positive depiction.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Mickey Rooney’s role as a Japanese landlord is seen as a racially insensitive caricature. Back in 1990, The Boston Globe didn’t hold back in describing Rooney’s portrayal as an “irascible bucktoothed nerd and an offensive ethnic caricature.”

Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles Daily News chimed in three years later, proclaiming that the role “would have been an offensive stereotype even played by an Asian; the casting of Mickey Rooney just added insult to injury.

The Searchers (1956)

The Searchers (1956)
John Wayne in The Searchers (1956)

This John Ford western depicts Native Americans in a derogatory light, contributing to harmful stereotypes.

Dirty Harry (1971)

Dirty Harry (1971)
Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry (1971)

The film’s portrayal of people of color and counterculture groups has been criticized for its racist undertones.

Cruel Sea (1953)

Cruel Sea (1953)
Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea (1953)

This British war film was criticized for its dehumanizing portrayal of the enemy, reinforcing racially discriminatory attitudes.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

This Spielberg classic drew criticism for its unflattering and stereotypical portrayal of Indian culture.

True Lies (1994)

True Lies (1994)
Jamie Lee Curtis and Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies (1994)

This action film has been criticized for its portrayal of Arabs as one-dimensional terrorists.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Shia LaBeouf in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

The characters Skids and Mudflap were widely perceived as racial caricatures.

The Lone Ranger (2013)

The Lone Ranger (2013)
Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger (2013)

Despite being a box office hit, the film was heavily criticized for casting a white actor in a Native American role, perpetuating the industry’s history of “whitewashing.”

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Author

  • Ephraim Obare

    Ephraim Obare is a versatile member of the Frenz Hub writing team, bringing a rich background in economics to his work. An avid swimmer, reader, and cyclist, Ephraim blends analytical insights with his diverse interests.

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