- Controversial scenes in movies are often cut years after release due to backlash and changing social norms. Filmmakers should consider potential offensiveness upfront.
- Scenes can be cut if they are too graphic, feature harmful stereotypes, or depict unsafe practices. Movies need to be in touch with reality and sensitive to cultural sensitivities.
- Cutting scenes may distort originality, but some scenes shouldn’t have been added in the first place. Filmmakers and studios should respond to significant backlash and make necessary changes.
Controversial scenes that audiences might find offensive or culturally inaccurate have been cut from movies years after their release. The inclusion of controversial scenes in movies has been a heavily debated topic. Sometimes, filmmakers do not know if a particular scene will not age well years after the movie is released. This is particularly true for comedies, but it applies to movies of all genres. While it can be argued that cutting scenes from a movie years after its release distorts its originality, it still remains that some scenes shouldn’t have been added in the first place.
For a particular scene to be cut from a movie after its initial release, the backlash has to be significant enough for the filmmakers and studios to erase the scene from the movie. There are various reasons why some scenes are cut from movies after their initial release. Sometimes, a scene can be too graphic or feature cultural stereotypes that can be harmful. In some cases, scenes can be cut or changed because they depict unsafe practices. The world is constantly changing, which makes it even more important for the best movies and other works of fiction to be in touch with reality.
10 Birdbox (2018)
A News Programme Showing The 2013 Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster
The scariest apocalyptic movies usually display all sorts of natural disasters that occur when the world is ending. In Birdbox, a scene was shown that depicted disasters from around the world. One of these disasters was a real-life tragedy that occurred in Canada. For unknown reasons, Netflix decided to use footage from the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster instead of filming their own or just not showing any footage. This, of course, was not received well. Instead of cutting the scene from the movie because of the controversy, Netflix refused to do so until four months after the movie was released (via Fortune).
9 The Program (1993)
Joe Kane Lies Down In The Middle Of A Busy Street
Movies about sports usually feature scenes that are meant to be inspirational. However, in the movie The Program, a scene that was meant to show team spirit ended up having deadly consequences. When The Program was initially released, it featured a scene where one of the characters, Joe Kane, lies down in the middle of a road. His teammates followed suit in an effort to show team spirit. This scene became viral and several people started copying it, resulting in one teenager dying and several others being injured. The filmmakers decided to cut the scene from the movie a few weeks after its release (via The Hollywood Reporter).
8 Show Dogs (2018)
Max The Rottweiler Gets His Genitals Examined By A Dog Show Judge
A movie about a cute dog that goes undercover with his handler so they can stop animal smuggling makes for an entertaining watch. However, in one of the scenes in Show Dogs, Max the Rottweiler is shown being uncomfortable with having his genitals examined by a judge. His fellow dogs encourage Max to “go to his happy place.” It’s no surprise that this scene got the severe backlash it did because it closely resembled child grooming. After public outcry, the scene was cut from the movie while it was still in theaters.
7 Shrek 2
Donkey’s Joke About David D’Or
- Release Date
- May 19, 2004
- Kelly Asbury, Andrew Adamson, Conrad Vernon
- Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Rupert Everett, Antonio Banderas, Jennifer Saunders, Cameron Diaz, Julie Andrews, John Cleese
Shrek‘s fast-talking character, Donkey, is one of the reasons that the movie is hilarious. However, one particular joke did not work well, although it was not in the original film in the first place. In the Hebrew version of the movie, there is a particular scene in which Donkey suggests to Shrek in a high-pitched voice that was meant to mimic David D’Or that Puss in Boots should be neutered. The joke, however, angered David D’Or and his attorney who felt that the scene misrepresented him as a eunuch. Dreamworks cut the line from Shrek 2 after the complaint.
6 Titanic (1997)
Jack Draws Rose Like One Of His French Girls
- Release Date
- December 19, 1997
- James Cameron
- David Warner, Kathy Bates, Billy Zane, Bill Paxton, Bernard Hill, Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gloria Stuart, Frances Fisher, Victor Garber
The moment when Rose asks Jack to draw her like one of his French girls is probably one of the most iconic Titanic scenes. In 2012, Cameron decided to create a 3D version of the movie for a new release. However, the scene where Jack draws Rose while she’s nude had to be cut from the 3D version for the Chinese audience. The version that was shown in Chinese theaters only features Rose from the neck up, everything else was cut. This is similar to what happened when Titanic was first screened in China in 1998, with the movie’s nude scenes being removed from the theatrical version.
5 Aladdin (1992)
Arabian Nights Lyrics
- Release Date
- November 11, 1992
- Ron Clements, John Musker
- Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Frank Welker, Gilbert Gottfried
Disney is famous for creating catchy songs that resonate with audiences. However, one of the lines from Aladdin‘s Arabian Nights song offended several people who are either Arabic or from Arabic Nations. The original cut of the movie, which was still being shown in theaters, featured the lyrics from Arabian Nights “Where they cut off your ear/If they don’t like your face/It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home.” The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee expressed their discontent with that portion of the movie (via Variety) In 1993, the lyrics were cut when Aladdin was released for home video.
4 Holiday Inn (1942)
Jim Hardy Dancing Around In Blackface
Some scenes in movies are cut for good reason, although it often leads to a debate about whether this helps hide all the massive mistakes made by the industry in previous years. For example, Holiday Inn was released in 1942, a time at which racial stereotypes were the norm in movies. In this particular scene, Jim Hardy performs a song to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in blackface. Depending on the version of the movie, this scene is cut or is still featured. For instance, the version shown on AMC on recent screens does not have this scene, whereas the TV version on TMC includes it.
3 The Santa Clause (1994)
Scott Pretends To Call A Sex Hotline
The Santa Clause
- Release Date
- November 11, 1994
- John Pasquin
- Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold, David Krumholtz, Eric Lloyd, Tim Allen
There’s nothing quite as fun as a classic Christmas movie with a few jokes added for comedic relief. Unfortunately, one of the jokes in The Santa Clause went a little too far. The scene in question is when Scott pretends to call a sex hotline with the number “1-800-SPANK-ME.” As it turns out, 1-800-SPANK-ME was a real sex hotline. Two years after the release of The Santa Clause, the hotline was still available, meaning that anyone watching the movie could end up calling it. The scene was eventually cut from the movie to prevent an impressionable audience from calling the number.
2 Toy Story 2 (1992)
Stinky Pete Offering The Barbies A Role In Toy Story 3
Toy Story 2
- Release Date
- November 24, 1999
- Lee Unkrich, Ash Brannon, John Lasseter
- Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, Joan Cusack, Annie Potts, Kelsey Grammer
Over the years, Disney has been subjected to a lot of backlash because of controversial scenes that are featured in old movies. However, one relatively modern film also faced similar issues. In this Toy Story 2 scene, Stinky Pete offers the two Barbies a role in Toy Story 3 with the implication that they might give him something in return. Disney removed the scene when the #MeTooMovement began to gain momentum in 2019. Toy Story 2 was directed by John Lasseter, who eventually exited Pixar following multiple allegations of misconduct.
1 Fantasia (1940)
Sunflower and Otika Polishing The White Centaurs’ Hooves
- Release Date
- December 25, 1967
- James Algar
Disney is no stranger to creating controversial animated movies, which include Fantasia. Sunflower and Otika are two centaurs that were featured in Disney’s 1940 film. In this scene, Sunflower is shown polishing the hooves of the white centaurs. Sunshine was portrayed as a Black slave who was there to cater to the white centaurs’ needs, resulting in an offensive and hurtful scene. As the industry’s attitude about race and representation began to slowly change due to the Civil Rights Movement, Disney ended up cutting Sunflower and Otika from the 1969 release of the movie.
Sources: Fortune, The Hollywood Reporter, The Sydney Morning Herald, Variety