New Category: Hasn’t Aged Well
My teenage years were full of many warm comments about Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (This was before Deep Blue Something’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s song .)
“Such a good film!”
“That dress! And Audrey Hepburn is so beautiful!”
“’Moon River’ is a great song!”
When I sat down to watch the film on VHS, I was ready to be dazzled. And I liked it just fine. That is, until Mickey Rooney made an appearance.
In the film, Rooney plays Hepburn’s landlord, who is constantly scolding her for something I forget. Maybe she’s late on the rent? Haranguing landlords fit in fine with the narrative, but the character’s name was Mr. Yunioshi, and Rooney portrayed a man with a heavy Japanese accent and exaggerated “Japanese” mannerisms.
I was horrified. And this was probably around 1992 or so? Anti-Japanese feelings were still running high. “They’re stealing our jobs” was a pretty common refrain and my family only drove cars made by U.S. manufactures. I’d grown up with racist cartoons, the whole bit. But Rooney’s antics were worse than I’d seen.
It ruined the film for me. I couldn’t believe that amid all that gushing about the classic film, not one person had added, “Oh yeah, and brace yourself for a very racist portrayal of a Japanese man.”
Those scenes still would have been bad, but at least I would have known they were coming. Why hadn’t anyone remarked on them?
While Rooney’s characterization was reflective of the early 60s, (though it’s never okay to make fun of a group of people, no matter the decade) it wasn’t reflective of the early 90s. There were still things to like about the film. Hepburn did look fabulous and “Moon River” is a great song (though a little short on lyrics, Mancini!) If only someone had given me the heads up about Rooney, Breakfast at Tiffany’s would occupy a different place in my heart.
It is because of this that I introduce a new category in my reviews: Hasn’t Aged Well.
It won’t appear all the time, because new movies haven’t yet aged. But when I watch a film and a thing or things just aren’t hitting right, I’ll alert you to them with that category. There are probably a lot of good things about the rest of the film, and you might be better able to enjoy them if you know you might be cringing in places.
I like to think of this category as the Mr. Yunioshi Memorial Category.
What’s your most memorable Hasn’t Aged Well moment?
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