Is Disney Homophobic? When will Disney Homophobic? Like many children, Sean Griffin grew up on Disney movies. One of his earliest memories is going to see The Jungle Book with his father as a kid, although his favorite was always Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Today, he’s a film scholar who has written extensively about Disney’s relationship to the LGBTQ+ community, but at the time, his reasons for preferring the studio’s first full-length animated feature were fairly literal: His mother had dark hair and seven children.
Disney films hold a particular resonance for “proto-queer kids” like the child he used to be, Griffin tells TIME. Before many LGBTQ+ youth even think about their sexual orientation or gender identity, he says that movies like Beauty and the Beast and Frozen tell stories “about characters who feel like they’re misfits.” It helps these kids feel seen and like their stories matter, which is one of the many reasons Disney has developed such a devoted LGBTQ+ fanbase over its nearly 100-year history.
Is Disney Homophobic?
Whether Disney is homophobic or not is a difficult subject with no simple solution. Disney has a long history of producing movies and TV shows with positive LGBTQ+ characters and plotlines. For instance, the 2020 film “Onward” featured a lesbian character named Officer Specter, while the 2017 movie “Beauty and the Beast” featured a gay character named LeFou.
Disney has additionally been under fire for failing to adequately represent LGBTQ+ people in its movies and television programs. For instance, the business has been under fire for its decision to censor and homophobize a gay kiss from the Chinese release of the 2017 movie “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
Whether Disney is homophobic or not is ultimately a matter of opinion. While some people think the company has come a long way in terms of LGBTQ+ inclusion, others think it still has a long way to go.
Here are some other factors to take into account:
- Disney has been charged with “pinkwashing,” the practice of championing LGBTQ+ issues to enhance one’s public perception.
- Disney has also come under fire for endorsing politicians with anti-LGBTQ+ stances.
- In an effort to be more accepting of LGBTQ+ employees and customers, Disney has made some progress.
Overall, it’s critical to be aware of both Disney’s history of LGBTQ+ representation and its shortcomings. It’s also critical to keep in mind that Disney is a huge organization with a complicated history, making it challenging to label it as either homophobic or pro-LGBTQ+ rights.
The Early Disney Years: Subtext and Coding
From the 1930s until the 1950s, the company’s early years were a time of considerable innovation and inventiveness. But it was also a time when the social and cultural conventions of the day had a big impact on Disney movies. This includes unfavorable opinions and misconceptions about LGBTQ+ people.
The usage of villains was one way that Disney movies from this era coded queerness. Numerous Disney villains were queer-coded, frequently as a result of their effeminate behavior, flamboyant attire, and relationships with other queer-coded characters. For instance, the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), with her flamboyant attitude and fixation with her own beauty, is sometimes viewed as a queer-coded antagonist.
Disney movies from this era also incorporated queerness into its side characters. The effeminate mannerisms or associations with other queer-coded characters were common ways that side characters in Disney movies from this era were queer-coded. For instance, Iago, Jafar’s pet parrot sidekick in the 1992 film Aladdin, is frequently referred to be a queer-coded character because of his flamboyant nature and their tight bond.
Although the queer coding in Disney movies from this era was frequently negative, it is crucial to remember that it also gave LGBTQ+ persons some exposure on screen. The queer coding in Disney movies may provide comfort and acknowledgement for LGBTQ+ audiences during a time when LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream culture was essentially nonexistent.
Disney has tried to include more LGBTQ+ characters in its movies in recent years. LeFou, a gay character from the 2017 movie Beauty and the Beast, and Officer Specter, a lesbian character from the 2020 movie Onward, are two examples. Disney has been criticism for both the absence of LGBTQ+ representation in its movies and television programs as well as for its backing of politicians that have anti-LGBTQ+ stances.
In general, the early Disney years saw both advancement and regression in terms of LGBTQ+ representation in movies. Even though the queer coding in Disney movies from this era was frequently negative, it did provide LGBTQ+ people considerable screen time. Disney has made some attempts recently to include LGBTQ+ characters more prominently in their movies, but there is always space for growth.
When will Disney Homophobic?
I am unable to foresee the future, so I can’t tell you when Disney will start to discriminate against homosexuals.
Disney has a long history of including LGBTQ+ characters in both positive and bad ways in their movies and TV series. Disney has made some attempts in recent years to include LGBTQ+ characters more prominently in their movies, but there is always space for growth. It’s critical to be conscious of both Disney’s achievements and shortcomings in terms of LGBTQ+ inclusion.
1989-1999: Queer-Coded Villains and a Quiet Gay Renaissance
The period 1989–1999 saw both growth and decline in the portrayal of LGBTQ+ people in Disney movies. On the one hand, the era saw the introduction of various movies with queer-coded antagonists, such as Jafar in Aladdin (1992), Scar in The Lion King (1994), and Ursula in The Little Mermaid (1989). These villains were frequently represented as effeminate, flamboyant, and malicious, which contributed to the perpetuation of prejudice against LGBTQ+ individuals.
The era also witnessed the release of a few movies with more positive LGBTQ+ portrayal, including Mulan (1998) and Beauty and the Beast (1991). Although LGBTQ+ characters were not featured directly in these movies, there was some gay subtext. LeFou, Gaston’s sidekick in Beauty and the Beast, for instance, has been perceived by many viewers as a gay character.
The “gay renaissance,” a term used to characterize a period of growing LGBTQ+ visibility and representation in popular culture, also rose during this time. The AIDS pandemic, which compelled many LGBTQ+ persons to come out and fight for their rights, had a part in this. More LGBTQ+ inclusive movies and TV shows were produced as a result of the gay renaissance, including Queer as Folk and Will & Grace.
Overall, LGBTQ+ inclusion in Disney movies made a mixed improvement from 1989 and 1999. While some movies featuring queer-coded antagonists were released during this time, some movies with more positive LGBTQ+ representation were also released. The gay renaissance also resulted in more LGBTQ+ people being visible and being represented in popular culture as a whole.
Here are some further observations regarding the period’s queer-coded villains:
- It’s crucial to remember that these bad guys’ queer coding wasn’t always deliberate. Some filmmakers claim that they never intended to depict their villains as gay. Nevertheless, it is still important that these villains were queerly labeled, whether on purpose or not.
- These bad guys’ queer code fueled inaccurate prejudice against LGBTQ+ persons. These myths can be damaging because they can fuel prejudice and violence towards LGBTQ+ individuals.
- It’s vital to point out the queer coding in Disney movies from this time period. We shouldn’t just accept these bad guys’ queer code as inevitable. Instead, we should inquire as to the purpose behind the queer coding of these characters and the message it conveys to the audience.
The queer coding of Disney villains between 1989 and 1999 is a complicated topic overall. The advantages and disadvantages of this queer coding should both be understood.
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