So you know how movies aren't real? The same goes for biopics. Nobody's perfect, and if all biopics presented totally accurate portrayals of their subjecst, then we wouldn't have a lot of feel-good stories in Hollywood. Would anyone have wanted A Beautiful Mind to win the Best Picture Oscar if they thought Russell Crowe's character was a racist deviant? Wait. That actually literally happened. That wasn't a good example. But the truth stands: biopics have to cut corners to tell well-rounded stories, and it's often easier to leave out the less-appealing story beats. No one is going to get feel-good chills when they're told that their movie hero is a child molester.
Historical inaccuracies in Oscar-bait movies are nothing new, and the list of things biopics omitted for convenience ranges from ex-girlfriends to genocide. To be fair, not everyone on this list was mind-blowingly horrible to the people around them. Some were just portrayed in a mildly better light in order to etch out a clear-cut hero/villain narrative for dumbed down American audiences. Read on to see if that includes you.
'Gandhi' Slept With Underaged Girls
Everyone, including the Oscar-winning Gandhi, assumes that Mahatma Gandhi was morally pristine because he was starving all the time. Not the case. As it turns out, the brave, peaceful hero of Colonial India was actually kind of a pervert. As a 'test' of his piety and purity, he would sleep next to young girls - including his grand-niece - and force himself not to touch them or become aroused. This disrespect for women fell in line with his documented assertion that menstrual blood is a "manifestation of the distortion of a woman's soul by her sexuality." Oh and he also believed that black people are sub-human. But Ben Kingsley's acting (and brownface), tho.
'Remember The Titans' Forgot To Mention That Herman Boone Was A Massive Jerk
Who can forget Remember the Titans, the inspirational sports drama from 2000 that tells the story of black and white football players coming together - despite the unbelievably high racial tension of their recently integrated high school - under the courageous tutelage of their coach, Herman Boone, played by Denzel Washington? And Herman Boone doesn't just bring the players together; he brings the entire Virginia town into peaceful unity around his championship-winning Titans.
Here's the thing, though, that wasn't actually what Herman Boone was like - at least according to his former players. In reality, a few seasons after the the events portrayed in Remember the Titans had taken place, Herman Boone left T.C. Williams High School in disgrace; his players and coaching staff had mutinied against him and his dictatorial coaching style and verbal and physical abuse. According to former player Greg Paspatis, Boone definitely treated all of his players equally - equally terribly.
"Herman Boone treated everyone one horribly, no matter what race," Paspatis remembered. That probably would have for a less-inspirational film, though.
'A Beautiful Mind' Overlooked John Nash's Anti-Semitism And Sexual Assault
Yep, this beautiful, heartfelt movie about overcoming mental illness and finding true love was also about a rapey, closeted gay man who hated Jewish people. Although John Nash and his wife deny any allegations that he slept with men, the records prove otherwise. Several of his male friends from young adulthood have gone public about Nash's awkward passes at them. There's also plenty of proof that Nash had ill feelings towards Jewish people, but he has since blamed those actions on being crazy.
These allegations were actually used against A Beautiful Mind in one of the nastiest Oscar-smear campaigns of recent history.
'The Motorcycle Diaries' Flinched When It Came To Che Guevara's Racism
In the actual, written, diary form of The Motorcycle Diaries, Ernesto "Che" Guevara includes a passage that details his thoughts on black folks. At one point, he describes "[the] blacks" as "those magnificent examples of the African race who have maintained their racial purity thanks to their lack of affinity with bathing." At another moment, he characterizes "the black" as "indolent and a dreamer; spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink," whereas "the European has a tradition of work and saving, which has pursued him as far as this corner of America and drives him to advance himself, even independently of his own individual aspirations."
Granted, scholars are in disagreement over whether this constitutes racism on Guevara's part or is more of an example of general "Argentinean superiority" that was prevalent among most people in Guevara's social class at the time. While this may seem like splitting hairs, one thing that's certain is that these reflections on Guevara's part don't make their way into the 2004 film, which sees Gael García Bernal starring as Guevara. Rather, his awakening to the conditions of the poor and disenfranchised around South America is the dominant stuff of the narrative.