10 Cult Movies That Subtly Manipulate Viewers Without Us Even Batting an Eye

Movies, especially those with a cult following, influence the way we see the world, our behavior, and even moral values to some extent. It’s one thing when a movie propagandizes something openly and you see it instantly, but it’s a totally different story when a flick subtly and unnoticeably plants certain ideas, which are not always nice and pleasant, in the heads of its viewers. Things get even more serious if the movie is watched by kids or teenagers.

dmfmemes has gladly watched several legendary movies and found rather rude and even toxic messages in some of them.

1. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Willy Wonka is an unusual character. He is psychologically traumatized but managed to cope with this disorder by creating the chocolate factory. He is quite eccentric, but for some reason, no one is alarmed by his idea to build a “special” relationship with the main character, Charlie. He is a cute, crazy man, however, once someone irritates him, the madness evaporates and his fury comes to light.

The main message of the movie is that we shouldn’t perceive mysterious strangers as dangerous. Well, after seeing the flick, a kid really might agree to go somewhere when a nice and charming man offers them a bar of chocolate and invites them for a walk. But it’s unlikely that the kid would eventually inherit a chocolate producing factory as a result of this meeting.

2. Beauty and the Beast (2017)

The key idea of this move (and other similar films, like Shrek, for example) is that outer beauty is not that important, while inner beauty is more significant. However, once you look closer at the plot, you’ll instantly see that the filmmakers contradict themselves.

The charming prince was turned into the beast because his inner qualities were actually quite bad and he got cursed by the wizard for it. Once a beautiful girl falls in love with the ugly beast and the feeling turns out to be mutual, the wizard appears again and removes the curse. It means that everything becomes beautiful at the end of the movie, while the idea of inner beauty being a priority becomes senseless.

3. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Andy’s family empathized with her when she had difficulties adapting to her new job. But once she began to succeed in her career, everyone from her boyfriend to her friends, and even colleagues, started to hate her.

On the other hand, we see Miranda Priestly, a woman who had built a successful career but lost her husband. It’s one of the possible ways Andy’s life could develop.

Thus, the flick actively promotes simple but not pleasant ideas: If a woman is successful at work, sooner or later, she will have to decide between her career and her personal life. By the way, this flick hints at the “right” decision that one should opt for a personal life. However, Andy’s boyfriend could actually stay with her and play the role of “housekeeper” because his potential in career-growth was obviously lower than hers.

4. A Christmas Story (1983)

Ralphie dreams about getting an air rifle for Christmas but his parents don’t want to buy it because they believe it will be too dangerous. The boy doesn’t give up and writes a big essay in school with a detailed description of the weapon that he dreams about. But this trick doesn’t work. Then Ralphie goes to Santa Claus and asks him to present him with this weapon but Santa also thinks it’s dangerous.

Eventually, the upset boy finally gets the long-awaited “toy” for Christmas when his father presents it to him. The idea of the flick is simple: If you want something, be stubborn and persistent and you will get it, even if adults and authoritative figures are against it. The idea would sound okay if the gift Ralphie wanted didn’t raise so many questions.

5. The Breakfast Club (1985)

The cult classic surrounding the teenage drama was supposed to dispel stereotypes about misunderstood outcasts, perfect athletes, golden youth, and stubborn hooligans. Instead, the filmmakers only reinforced these stereotypes.

For example, the bad boy, John Bender, continues to humiliate and bully Claire, the girl from a wealthy family, for half of the movie and eventually falls in love with her. Then, everything ends with a kiss. Unfortunately, it’s clear to adults that these relationships will reach a dead-end once the first issues appear because no matter how hard you try, opposites don’t attract. Additionally, there’s another alarming idea hidden in the story: If he beats you, he loves you (which can be seen in scenes when John seeks out Claire only to make her cry).

Allison, the girl who looks odd and dresses strangely, is another example of a weird message. At the end of the movie, she transforms with the help of the beautiful popular girl, Claire. While Andrew, the athlete who never noticed her, suddenly is charmed with the girl’s new look and asks to start dating her. What’s the key idea here? If you’re not like others, conform, and everything will be fine.

6. The Ugly Truth (2009)

This rom-com follows Abby, a career woman who experiences constant setbacks while trying to improve her personal life. Suddenly, she meets Mike, who is set to become a guest on her show. Mike’s performance shows open sexism. For example, he calls women who disagree with him “ugly ones who are not interested in men.”

Later, Mike becomes Abby’s mentor and gives her advice on how to get a decent man. His words of advice are quite ambiguous, telling her to pretend that everything is fine, even if it’s not; and to laugh at his jokes, even if they aren’t funny. It seems that someone as smart and successful as Abby would question all these suggestions but her desire to get a man prevails over all her other aspirations.

Moreover, the entire flick encourages the idea that it’s very easy to manipulate men in order to achieve your “feminine” goals. The conclusion: This movie is an example of sexism in its purest form.

7. Fight Club (1999)

This flick can hardly be called innocent, but still, it holds cult status because it’s one of the best stories about a person who goes against the system and wins the battle. In other words, the movie is quite motivating.

However, it’s worth looking at it from another point of view. Actually, the main thought is the following: If you want to be a true man, get into a fight with anyone, whether they’re ready or not, simply because you’re strong and can do it. Therefore, the idea that men should always fight gets embedded in people’s conscience.

8. Romeo and Juliet (and all its film adaptations)

The tragic love story that has inspired many generations of people actually hides a very dangerous message: In the name of love, you can stop your life, and it will be the right decision. However, from a psychologically healthy point of view, the decision should be different. A person should overcome all the sorrows and hardships of the loss of a loved one and learn to live without them.

Moreover, the things that Romeo and Juliet do can’t be justified and explained by love. Depriving oneself of life is not proof of faithfulness but an act of weakness, selfishness, and likely, a mental disorder.

9. The Parent Trap (1961 and 1998)

The movie promotes a special danger for traumatized kids whose parents get divorced. It gives them hope and the belief that the divorce was a huge mistake in their parents’ lives, and that everything can still be corrected. Unfortunately, things are a bit more complicated in real life, and kids shouldn’t interfere with their parents’ personal lives. And in addition to this, they shouldn’t learn to hate new significant others that their parents may get involved with.

10. Iron Man (2008)

Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man, is extremely wealthy and behaves according to the stereotypical ideas about wealthy people. He is vindictive, cruel, and does whatever he wants, ditching any moral norms. Thus, the following message is conveyed to viewers: If you have a lot of money, you can do whatever you want and you won’t be held accountable.

What other movies that actually hide dangerous messages can you think of?

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