It’s amazing how some things we loved as children fail to live up to the hype as adults.
When I saw the ads for Space Jam on Go! last week, I just had to watch it. I haven’t seen it in a good ten or fifteen years, but it’s one of those childhood classics—like Home Alone or Mrs. Doubtfire—that you just have to watch given the opportunity.
And let me tell you, I haven’t seen such a sexist and racist kids movie in a very long time!
Firstly, there’s only one female in the whole movie that isn’t a wife, mother, child or housekeeper, and even those roles are very minor ones, appearing onscreen for less than five minutes in total. You can rest assured that Lola is objectified as the sexy, albeit sporty, “don’t-call-me-Doll” rabbit who wears short shorts and a midriff top, while everyone else wears actual basketball attire. On a side note, Pepé Le Pew makes a cameo in the film, which prompted my housemate to refer to him as the poster boy for sexual harassment. With his love interest, Penelope Pussycat, being one of only a few female Looney Tunes, Pepé is well within his rights to stalk and harass her til his heart’s content for deigning to be an attractive female in a male dominated world.
In the race department, the Looney Tunes aren’t really known for their fair portrayal of those who aren’t white and/or American. Look at Speedy Gonzales, Pepé, and the episodes featuring Ali Baba, blackface and Native Americans. But I found it shocking that the premise of Space Jam, which escaped me at a younger age, is capturing Michael Jordan to be a slave—replete with chains—at Moron Mountain theme park. A cartoon sequence that shows Moron Mountain’s owner, Mr. Swackhammer, fantasising about having Jordan as a side show attraction was a particularly low point of the movie.
Not only is Space Jam sexist and racist, but the plot has major holes in it. In one way I’m glad that I was able to see Space Jam for what it truly is, but on the other, I kind of wish it had stayed in childhood and remembered for its nostalgia.
Image via Download Free MP4 Movies.