Overshadowed By Controversy
Don't remember it by title? Don't worry, neither did we, and now the Cracked IT guys are asking why we have "Dakota Fanning rape" in our Google cache.
There are some well-known works that gathered controversy throughout the years, and there are also famously controversial works in which the controversy, whether rightful or not, would overshadow most other aspects. Which isn't to say that works in the latter category have no other redeeming factor, just that most people would know little else aside from the controversial aspects.
Bad reviews alone do not make a controversial moment, and in fact some works can be well-regarded by critics and those who watched, read or played the work, and not all works listed here are either laughably bad
or just downright terrible
. Plot-related twists are generally not what makes up the category either, even if such cases are subjective and arguable. The major qualifier is that the works would be known beyond the fans of a particular genre that there's little knowledge of some other parts of a work to the general public.
Controversies can be a result of the following:
See also Colbert Bump
, Dancing Bear
, Just Here for Godzilla
, Mainstream Obscurity
, Complaining about Shows You Don't Watch
, and Watch It for the Meme
. Compare and contrast No Such Thing as Bad Publicity
, and Controversy Proof Image
. When a whole genre gets held under controversy, it would become The New Rock & Roll
Please be cautious about editing this page
. It isn't supposed to imply that there's no other redeeming factor for the works on this list. It also doesn't necessarily mean that the creators meant
their work to be controversial.
- Everyone will agree that A Clockwork Orange is a controversial film. However in the United Kingdom its reputation is more legendary because the film was banned there from 1971 until Kubrick's death in 1999. Therefore, its controversial reputation remained far more intact than in other countries.
- Baise Moi was banned in France because of its unsimulated sex scenes in the context of two female rape victims having revenge on their aggressors. The debate whether this is nothing less but cheap exploitation, or not, is still going on.
- The Birth of a Nation is one of cinema's milestones, pioneering many techniques that would shape motion pictures to come. Unfortunately it's a film that glorifies the Ku Klux Klan and has white people in black face portraying all Afro-Americans as either criminals or lazy idiots. This aspect has overshadowed most of its cinematically important qualities.
- The Brown Bunny is a film known mostly for an unsimulated oral sex scene, being booed harshly at the Cannes Film Festival and the subsequent media catfight between Roger Ebert and the director. The film was later Re Cut and given a wide release, and Ebert gave the recut a three star review.
- Cannibal Holocaust was notorious to a degree that it forced director Ruggero Deodato and the actors to explain that nobody died in production and the gore was just special effects. There is still a great deal of controversy to this day relating to animal cruelty, such as an infamous scene in which an actual, live turtle is brutally decapitated onscreen. Seven animals were killed during the film's production. Although the director himself condemned his past actions and seems genuinely regretful, many people are turned off by premise of actual deaths onscreen.
- Cloud Atlas will probably be remembered more for the controversy over the decision to have white actors appear in Yellow Face than for its story.
- Ken Russell's The Devils (1971) has been banned, censored and re-cut in so many countries that several different versions of different lenghts exist. Its offensive blasphemous content has brought more attention than the actual picture itself.
- Eraserhead - Two words: the baby. Primarily because no one associated with the film (ESPECIALLY David Lynch) cares to discuss what the baby was made out of.
- "They're not even sure it IS a baby..."
- Gangster Squad ended up being some scenes reshot because a theater shooting that occurred in the film resembled the real life 2012 theater massacre that had just occurred in Aurora, Colorado. Yet even with the reshoot, the film as whole was deemed to be so violent that it was still hard to forget the parallel with Aurora. It didn't help that the film was released about a month after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
- HoundDog, as quoted on the page description above, was infamously referred to as the Dakota Fanning rape film by critics and moviegoers alike.
- Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ had sparked protests from religious groups worldwide, including the infamous attack at a Paris cinema where the use of Molotov cocktails injured 13 patrons and brought the theater under heavy repairs for the next three years.
- Likewise, Taxi Driver is good enough to stand on its own merits, but it will forever be linked to John Hinckley and his attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan.
- Melancholia gets remembered more for the infamous interview of its director Lars von Trier about how he "was a Nazi", and then how that got him banned from Cannes.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian was considered by the troupe to be their best movie, but the protests surrounding its supposed heresy will always limit its popularity.
- At the time of release, protests by religious groups were described by the Pythons as the best publicity they could have hoped for. It really raised a lot of awareness of the film's existence, and led to a much higher box office taking. No Such Thing as Bad Publicity.
- Similarly, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ arguably owes its record-breaking success with audiences who weren't devout Christians to this very trope. Practically everyone in America already knew the story (unlike The Last Temptation, the plot itself wasn't revisionist in any way), so the most interesting two things about the movie for most people were that it was ridiculously violent for a "Christian" film (as well as being probably the only R-rated film in history that Christian leaders urged their congregations to see) and that it was that rare post-1945 Western film with (supposed) anti-Semitism as part of the subject matter. Cool.
- Disney's Song of the South, like the stories it is based on, is remembered more for the Unfortunate Implications of a happy black ex-slave living in the American South than for anything other than, perhaps "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah".
- Triumph Des Willens and Olympia by Leni Riefenstahl are visually impressive documentaries which were way ahead of their time from a technical standpoint. However, it's hard to praise these films because they were intended as Nazi propaganda. Riefenstahl was never able to distance herself from all the controversy surrounding these films and herself.
- Twilight Zone: The Movie will be forever tainted by the helicopter crash death of Vic Morrow and two child actors during filming.
- Alfie's Home is a children's book...about curing homosexuality, arguing that dysfunctional families cause kids to be gay because they lack the love from a parental figure, but it's MUCH more infamous for a blatant depiction of a child getting molested by his Creepy Uncle, who is also a Karma Houdini.
- Fanny Hill is well known for having been a subject of obscenity tests and for having been banned in America from inception until a 1966 Supreme Court case ruled that the book has redeeming social value. When it was published in 1748, it got the author arrested on obscenity charges.
- Lolita is unfortunately more famous for the controversy that surrounds it than the actual content and quality of the novel: Vladimir Nabokov went through many publishers who refused to publish it, and after it was published, it was banned in many places for being "pornographic" or "an instruction manual for paedophilia" (which it is not). Even for people who aren't familiar with the history of the book, a lot of the covers/jackets make it look like erotica.
- The children's book The Pet Goat probably wouldn't have an article on The Other Wiki if it weren't for the fact that George W. Bush was reading it as he was notified of 9/11, and the subsequent debate over whether he should have left or kept reading like he did.
- Rage by Stephen King is probably best known for being King's Old Shame after several school shootings were possibly inspired by the novel. King has let the work fall out of print.
- The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie is recalled more for the ensuing fatwa declared on the author by the Ayatollah Khomeini, and for the fallout from that incident, than for the novel itself.
- The Turner Diaries, a white supremacist novel by William L. Pierce, is best known for its association with Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber.
- The Uncle Remus stories are a group of actual fables told by slaves and former slaves in the American South, making them a valuable cultural resource. However, though once popular, they are now nearly unknown. Compiler and editor Joel Chandler Harris' fictional character who tells the stories, Uncle Remus, was written as an elderly ex-slave who was basically content to continue to work for a white family. The implied racism is now almost all that is known of the stories. The fables themselves, taken out of the Remus context, are stories about animals using their wiles to trick each other, and man, in order to survive. Unlike Aesop's fables, they are not meant to be morally instructive, but are a commentary on man resorting to animal-like behaviors in desperate circumstances.
- Uncle Tom's Cabin had a controversy that the publication of this book inspired over slavery, particularly in the years leading up to The American Civil War. However, few people have actually read the book, even those who (inaccurately) slur supposedly servile African Americans as "Uncle Toms".
- The slur is more a reference to the minstrel shows "inspired by" the book frequently put on after the American Civil War, which inverted the message of the original novel and completely changed Tom's characterisation.
- Black Metal is mostly associated with crimes committed by a few of it's members. This was not helped by said members exaggerating their own acts. As noted by Lords of Chaos in reference to an article in Kerrang:
Like it or not, however, the Kerrang! article was what brought Norwegian Black Metal to the rest of the world’s attention. It probably meant the crimes would eternally overshadow the music, but it was undoubtedly the best piece of international P.R. the scene would ever receive.
- Milli Vanilli was once a popular group, but after a scandal broke out revealing the fact that they playbacked all their songs they became a universal shame. To this day nobody in their right mind can admit liking their hits without addressing the playback scandal.
- Igor Stravinsky 's The Rite Of Spring is universally praised for being a milestone in classical music and music in general. Yet the infamous story of the riots during its premier will forever remain associated with the piece.
- The Sex Pistols are mostly known for trying to play "God Save The Queen" from a barge during the Queen's Jubilee after being prohibited from playing the song on land. Much of the bad press was intentional.
- As was the bad press they received for "Belsen Was a Gas", which was more of the Dude, Not Funny! variety.
- This trope tends to be zigzaged with hip-hop artists. Sometimes they're overshadowed by controversy, other times they're FUELED by it.
- In June 2007, WWE's very last Vengeance pay-per-view was relaunced as the Night of Champions event, which continues to this day. This very first Night of Champions was the only time in history when nine championships were defended in one night: the WWE Championship, the World Heavyweight Championship note , the ECW Championship, the Intercontinental Championship, the United States Championship, the Women's Championship, the Cruiserweight Championship, the World Tag Team Championship, and the WWE Tag Team Championship! But hardly anybody remembers that, because what they do remember is that John Morrison unexpectedly won the ECW Championship because he was booked in place of Chris Benoit, who no-showed the event because he was busy murdering his wife and child and then committing suicide. Not only was Benoit's reputation forever tarnished, but Morrison has (at least with some people) yet to live down the fact that he rose to main-event status in WWE entirely because of an offscreen tragedy.
- WWE's 1999 Over the Edge pay-per-view will forever be known as the event where Owen Hart fell to his death.
- Survivor Series 1997: The Montreal Screwjob is pretty much the only thing this event is remembered for.
- Custer's Revenge was an unauthorized third-party game for the Atari 2600 in 1982. It gathered quite a bit of negative attention, particularly from feminist and Native American groups, as the objective involved raping an Indian woman. From the next generation of consoles onward, manufacturers require approval for games to be released on their machines.
- Daikatana, aside from its years spent in development hell, picked up controversy over its advertising campaign, which stated that "John Romero's about to make you his bitch. Suck it down." The game has mostly been forgotten aside from the aforementioned campaign and the negative press that brought Romero's development career down with it.
- Dragon's Crown had gathered some rather heated arguments around the internet for how the Amazon and Sorceress characters were designed. This actually led to lot of free advertising in the west, making the game more successful in the process.
- The prequel to Fear Effect on the Playstation was known for having the first lesbian couple in the history of video game. A third game was supposed to be released but finally got cancelled.
- The Manhunt series was best known for its premise of being about a convict being forced to take part in snuff films (the gameplay was mostly stealth based, with elements of Survival Horror). The first game was given mixed reviews, with some marking it down for the gorn and others praising it for its atmosphere, the sequel received average reviews across the board and the series was mostly forgotten.
- Mortal Kombat for being the game that singlehandedly created the ESRB.
- Night Trap was one of the video games that contributed to the creation of the ESRB ratings in the United States. An infamous bathroom scenenote in particular was what led to intense senate hearings with proponents of the ban saying it glorified violence toward women, while many of them admitted they hadn't played the game.
- The Postal series is well-known for being a common target for Moral Guardians to campaign against video game violence, more so than any quality of gameplay, as opposed to other common targets like Doom or Grand Theft Auto.
- The Adventure Time episode "What Was Missing" immediately became popular, AND controversial, for the alleged lesbian subtext between Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the Vampire Queen.
- The Censored Eleven cartoons remain controversial because of Values Dissonance causing many once innocent fun scenes to look incredibly racist and politically incorrect. To this day the artistic achievements of these cartoons are discussed less than the objectionable imagery and jokes.
- Coonskin, Ralph Bakshi's satirical Blaxploitation reimagining of the Uncle Remus tales. The Rev. Al Sharpton famously criticized the film without even seeing it, saying, "I don't got to see shit; I can smell shit!"
- The ''South Park" episodes "200" and "201" is a Milestone Celebration and we learn the real truth behind Cartman's father. However, "200" caused a Muslim group to send death threats to Trey Parker and Matt Stone for depicting Muhammad in a bear suit (even though it was really Santa Claus), Comedy Central altered "201" so all audio and visual references to Muhammad were censored, thus resparking the Muhammed cartoon controversy in real life. To this day, it has never been reran, it's not available for legal streaming and only the censored version has been released on DVD.
- Bill Clinton is nowadays more remembered for his sex scandals than any of his actual political deeds. Not that it particularly hurt his popularity, as approval polls taken around the time he left office will indicate.
- O.J. Simpson's achievements as an American footballer and actor have been overshadowed by the controversy over his involvement in the murder of his wife and her mistress. Most people today know him solely for the murder scandal.
- Richard Nixon's presidency has been overshadowed by the Watergate affair. Other memorable events during his administration, even good ones like his visit to China, have been forgotten except for history buffs.
- Silent movie comedian Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle's legacy has been tainted by his involvement in an orgy where a girl was murdered. Even though his name was cleared the affair destroyed his career and public image.