People are rewatching American Pie in 2018 and it's not going down well

Screenshot: YouTube / American Pie
Screenshot: YouTube / American Pie

It's no secret that some of our old favourite shows haven't exactly aged well.

The last few years in particular have seen a slew of think-pieces calling out old shows for discriminatory scenes: from blackface in Little Britain to transphobia in Friends, online commentators have left no stone unturned in their quest to expose terrible media representation.

Earlier this year, social media switched its focus to American Pie.

VTfirst collated a series of reactions - some of which described the show as 'dumb' and 'sexist', others of which mocked people for finding the film offensive - in a viral piece which recently regained traction.

In fairness, there's plenty of evidence to back up these claims.

Various past articles have taken aim at the film for relying on 'rape-culture humour', depicting women as sexual objects (their power over men is established by withholding sex, obviously) and depicting men as pathetic sex pests literally willing to get a girl so drunk she immediately agrees to sex.

Obviously we know now that this sends a dangerous message: it tells men that it's totally cool to intoxicate women in a mission to lower their threshold to consent.

Spoiler: it's not.

But none of this is surprising in the world of American Pie. It's an alternate universe populated by horny frat boys who have no problem secretly recording a woman as she masturbates, or dry-humping a delicious apple pie into submission on the kitchen table of their family home.

There's even a rousing speech which, in retrospect, is basically a manifesto for incel rights:

No longer will our penises remain flaccid and unused. We will fight for every man out there who isn’t getting laid and should be.

This is our day. This is our time…we will not stand by and watch history condemn us into celibacy.

We will make a stand. We will succeed. We will get laid!

So yes, we know that American Pie is sexist and sends a dangerous message, it's just that we're more critical of it now than ever. In a post #MeToo world jokes about consent aren't deemed to be acceptable, nor are cheap gags ("God bless the Internet!") about spycam porn.

But, on the other hand, it's easy to point out these shortcomings with the benefit of hindsight.

It's also easy to forget that the film spawned a ridiculously successful franchise as well as way, way too many sequels, so these seemingly problematic scenes clearly didn't bother us two decades ago.

Maybe it's a good sign: it's a sign that we're more culturally aware and quicker to call out misguided or damaging representation on-screen when we see it.

Either way it's worth looking back and seeing American Pie both as a product of its own cultural climate and an overview of just how quickly social media has helped to change society. And regardless of which side of the debate you're on, it's hard to deny that the awkward pie scene is still low-key iconic.

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