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Top 10 Racially Offensive Movie Characters

VO: Rebecca Brayton
How they got past the development stage, we’ll never know: whether it’s a robot in disguise who perpetuates some strikingly insulting stereotypes, a miscast Caucasian portraying any number of nationalities or a satire that hits a little too close to home, there are some movie characters that are so ridiculous, they’re offensive. Memo to Hollywood: blackface hasn’t been okay for a long time. And for that matter, neither has whiteface. In this video, counts down our picks for the top 10 racially offensive movie characters. For this list, we’ve chosen movie characters so ridiculous and distasteful, they’re almost funny. But they’re really, really not.

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Top 10 Racially Offensive Movie Characters

How they got past the development stage, we’ll never know. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 racially offensive movie characters.

For this list, we’ve chosen movie characters so ridiculous and distasteful, they’re almost funny. But they’re really, really not.

#10 – Long Duk Dong: “Sixteen Candles” (1984)

There’s a fine line between comedy and racism, and John Hughes crossed it. This unfortunately-named Chinese exchange student is constantly humiliating himself – which causes him to giggle uncontrollably. He’s horny, drinks, has odd customs, and is followed incessantly by a gong. The accent and broken English are bad enough, but the character even caused viewers to yell his lines at random Asian-Americans. Classy.

#9 – Salim: “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” (2008)

Why not Zohan himself? Well, Lord knows he’s offensive. But we chose Rob Schneider’s contribution because he stereotypes some race or another in almost every movie he makes. In “Zohan” he’s Arab, in “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” he’s Chinese-ish, in “50 First Dates” he’s Hawaiian, in “Bedtime Stories” he’s Native American, and we’re sure we’re missing some. But it’s okay because he’s Filipino. Right.

#8 – Mark Watson: “Soul Man” (1986)

There’s enough C-list star power here that someone shoulda known better. Perennial ‘80s fave C. Thomas Howell is a pampered rich boy who’s gotta pay his way through Harvard Law. But honor’s for suckers, so he takes pills that make his skin darker so he’ll qualify for a black-only scholarship. Yup, in 1986, Hollywood – and the audiences who made this a box-office success – thought blackface was okay.

#7 – The White Chicks: “White Chicks” (2004)

Let’s call this payback. Shawn and Marlon Wayans play two screw-up FBI agents who don crude prosthetics, blond wigs and miniskirts to impersonate a pair of socialites and track a notorious kidnapper. But that kidnapper crap is just the glue that holds this racist trainwreck together: it’s basically nothing more than a string of jokes at white people’s expense.

#6 – Watto, Nate Gunray, Jar Jar Binks: “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” (1999)

New “Star Wars” additions are heavily scrutinized, but it requires little-to-no effort to criticize “Episode I”: to put it bluntly, the aliens perpetuate racist ideas. With his money obsession, slaves, accent and distinct appearance, Watto represents Jewish stereotypes. Nate Gunray dresses, looks and sounds vaguely Asian. And everyone’s favorite punching bag has the mannerisms and speech patterns of a terrible Caribbean cliché. Plus, he just pisses us off. Way to go, Lucas.

#5 – Guru Maurice Pitka: “The Love Guru” (2008)

Aside from being patently unfunny, painfully formulaic, and fairly unrealistic, this Mike Myers flick is borderline disrespectful to Hindus. And French Canadians. And anyone who paid to see it. And Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley. Okay, the problems: cheap laughs, lazy puns, overdone stereotypes. We hope most people know enough about Hinduism and Indian culture to understand that this ain’t it. Actually, Guru Pitka is disrespectful to anyone with half a brain.

#4 – Uncle Remus: “Song of the South” (1946)

A company as prolific as Disney is bound to make mistakes. And boy, have they: “Aladdin”’s barbaric “Arabian Nights, “Dumbo”’s black crows, “Lady & the Tramp”’s Siamese cats, “Peter Pan”’s redskins – the list is endless. But perhaps the worst culprit is this live-action/animation blend, and its kindly Uncle Remus. Set in an oddly idyllic post-Civil War Deep South, this film glosses over the horrors of slavery so much, it’s now banned in the U.S. Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, indeed.

#3 – Mudflap and Skids: “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (2009)

We should not be able to name the “black” Transformers. But, alas, these jive-talking alien robots embody several African-American stereotypes we’re surprised to see in a movie made this century. Par exemple: they talk in ghetto-speak, one has a gold tooth, and – oh, this is the worst – they can’t read. Let’s put it this way: Michael Bay’s not getting any racial sensitivity awards.

#2 – Borat Sagdiyev: “Borat” (2006)

We get it: it’s a mockumentary out to shock, appall, and expose our own misconceptions and prejudices. Regardless, Sacha Baron Cohen is still portraying a Kazakhstani journalist chasing Pamela Anderson through the United States, and we’re guessing the population of Kazakhstan didn’t love how they were depicted: as sexist, ignorant, and violently anti-Semitic. Oh that’s right: he just doesn’t know any better – he’s foreign.

#1 – Mr. Yunioshi: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961)

The ‘60s were a simpler time: Manhattan was cleaner, fashion was crisper and there were no Asian actors in Hollywood. Apparently. Well, how else do you explain this inexcusable case of yellowface? That’s Mickey Rooney under the false teeth, squinty eyes and outrageous Japanese accent playing Holly Golightly’s landlord. Come to think of it: even with an Asian actor this’d be an offensive part of an otherwise classic film.

Do you agree with our list? Which movie characters offended you the most? For more top 10s about your favorite flicks, be sure to subscribe to

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