Usually, subtext is the mark of a well-written film. Being able to add another layer to a narrative often makes it far more enjoyable, and moviemakers tend to keep this in mind when writing and making a movie. However, there are times when particularly terrible hidden messages seem to slip by.
It’s not always clear how. Sometimes it seems that the screenwriters simply assumed their story would be taken at face value. Other times, it seems as though the message was lost in translation. There are even occasions where the troubling subtext is only picked up on by the audience, with the filmmakers blissfully unaware of the message they’ve put out into the world.
Though a negative message can be damaging to society, it wouldn’t be fair to judge these movies too harshly. After all, they were all made specifically to entertain, which they’ve all achieved to some degree. Even so, each and every one of them shared their terrible hidden messages with the world, so we’re here today to call them out on it.
8. Grease (1978)
It’s long been pointed out that musical classic Grease has a pretty problematic story. It follows greaser Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and Australian transfer student Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) as they meet and fall in love. However, they’re from two different worlds, which proves to be an obstacle to their budding romance.
We’re going to gloss over the predatory behaviors on display throughout the film by asserting that those sorts of things seemed to fly in the ’50s. However, both Danny and Sandy undergo major changes in order to make the other fall in love with them. They both attempt to change their personalities and individual styles to impress one another, acting in ways they never normally would.
This puts out the message that it’s okay to change yourself for someone you’re romantically interested in. Admittedly, it’s not exactly the most harmful subtext in the world, but it’s still awful advice for impressionable members of the audience. Even so, Grease remains a classic, despite its iffy standpoint on romance.