Every year around this time, we start to see a flood of biopics set for the big screen. The majority of them are Oscar bait, with more than a few making it onto the final list. But, as with every human being alive, their subjects’ lives weren’t all wine and roses and being the first to do something amazing. Often times, they weren’t really good people, despite their admittedly groundbreaking accomplishments.
But who wants to go see a movie about a dick who changed the world?
I mean, people might. But I doubt the movie would be winning any awards.
But guys. These 8 biopic-worthy people didn’t just have a few speeding tickets or hate dogs or do drugs. They were genuinely bad humans who just happened to revolutionize the world, and the people who chose to tell their stories to the masses decided to leave out the dark side in favor of painting a pretty, easy-to-root for picture. After you read through this list, you won’t be able to watch any of these movies with a clear conscience…be warned.
#8. Remember the Titans
It turns out that Herman Boone did treat everyone equally…terribly. One of his former players, Greg Paspatis, went on the record as saying “Herman Boone treated everyone horribly, no matter what race.” In his final years of coaching, his staff and players began to rebel against his dictatorial style, as well as the physical and verbal abuse he called his ‘method’.
So I mean, the movie didn’t exactly lie, but the truth is a whole lot less inspiring.
#7. Straight Outta Compton
The biopic about N.W.A. fighting racism on their ascent to the top earned tons of praise last year – but perhaps not from music journalist Dee Barnes, who was assaulted by Dr. Dre back in 1991. The two settled out of court.
Perhaps it isn’t such a surprise that the tidbit didn’t make it into the film, since Dre was one of the producers.
#6. The Iron Lady
Margaret Thatcher might have blazed new trails for women in politics, but that doesn’t mean we should forget that she was also a racist homophobe. Proof? She used legislation to stigmatize the LGBTQ community and encouraged Australia to ban all immigration from Asia.
It turns out that Ghandi wasn’t actually that good of a person, morally speaking – starving himself for justice aside. He would “test” his purity by sleeping in beds with underage girls (including his niece) without becoming aroused or acting on his attraction to them. He also asserted that menstrual blood was a “manifestation of the distortion of a woman’s soul by her sexuality,” and that black people are sub-human.
A real peach, that one. All hail Ben Kingsley in offensive makeup!
#4. Get On Up
The James Brown biopic conveniently left out the fact that Brown’s ex-girlfriend, Betty Jean Newsome, took him to court with the accusation that he stole the main melody of one of his biggest hits (It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World) from one of her personal riffs.
And if you’re thinking that sounds made up, the courts didn’t agree. Newsome won, and Brown never apologized.
#3. The Social Network
Though the film portrayed Eduardo Saverin as a saint taken advantage of by the slave-driver Zuckerberg, in truth, it was the latter’s family who had money on the line from the beginning. Saverin actually blew through company funds at NYC parties and took out free Facebook ads for his own startup.
#2. The Walk
The inspirational film about Phillipe Petit’s (in)famous wire walk between the Twin Towers left audiences breathless, but they might not have thought he was such a great guy if they knew he quietly remained in the United States after all of the people who helped him make history were all deported.
#1. The Miracle Worker
Helen Keller wrote that allowing a “defective” child to die wasn’t cruel or murder, but rather a “weeding of the human garden that shows a sincere love of true life.”
So, pretty much every biography that we read about Helen Keller, from childhood on up, glosses over the fact that she was super into the idea of eugenics. Now, we can choose to read this belief as sad, since she’s basically saying if she had the choice she would never have lived, but trying to force natural selection based on human aesthetics is just ugly.