The racist stance in Taxi Driver is so obvious the film could not have been made today. In a cameo by Scorsese, he plays an obsessed stalker spying on his wife. We see her silhouette through a window and assume it's the right person. Scorsese, sitting in the back seat of Bickle's cab, claims his wife is having an affair with a "nigger." Scorsese then goes into a long, unforgettable monologue where he discusses inserting a gun into his wife and pulling the trigger. It's difficult to listen to this scene, if only because of the blatant racist and sexist tones.
Bickle later stumbles into a convenience store robbery, shooting the thief (a black man). The store owner then viciously beats the dying black man with a crow bar. Additional scenes show Bickle sitting in porno theaters, the only Caucasian man surrounded by black men and women. I think these scenes have been created to further emphasize Bickle's alienation and isolation. But it also implies the only customers in New York going to porno films are black people.
The racism specter is further enhanced by the fact Paul Schrader's original screenplay had the three main villains (if there truly are heroes or villains in Taxi Driver) written as black men. Scorsese wisely changed the characters to Caucasian men. Racism exists within a world of frustration and hate - and that is certainly the world of Taxi Driver. I'm just not sure I care to see this hate as unpleasantly as I do here.
De Niro's Bickle is a Vietnam veteran suffering from insomnia. He takes a job as a cab driver to work nights, driving through the most dangerous New York neighborhoods for fares. He becomes infatuated with a beautiful woman (Cybill Shepherd) who works at the campaign office of Palantine. Bickle takes the woman to a porno theater on their first date, and she dumps him immediately. To no one's surprise, Bickle soon begins to stalk her. He purchases a deadly arsenal of hand guns and intensely works out in preparation for his assassination of Palantine (and most likely the woman too). Along the way, Bickle stumbles across a 12-year old prostitute (Foster) whom he befriends. His attempted assassination fails and he drives over to the prostitute's home and kills her pimp (Harvey Keitel), landlord and an unlucky gangster. Taxi Driver unbelievably ends with the prostitute having been returned to her parents and Bickle becoming an inner-city folk hero. Shepherd's character tries to make a date with Bickle, but he's now at peace with the inferno around him and drives on disinterested.