Once again, in an attempt to be popular with a minority, Disney has managed to anger an entire community.
In the newest Disney-Pixar animated film "Onward," directed by Dan Scanlon, Disney has included their first LGBT character.
At least, that's what they claim. Again. Because this isn't the first time Disney has boasted having an LGBT character. LeFou from their live-action "Beauty and the Beast" was also heralded as their first LGBT character, and Disney Channel has the title character from "Andi Mack" claiming that role.
I've spoken about why representation in the media is so important. I've also spoken about shows that do it right, like Rebecca Sugar's "Steven Universe." Now is time to talk about what is essentially the polar opposite.
If you compare Disney with Cartoon Network, it's easy to see who actually cares about LGBT representation. Multiple Cartoon Network shows such as "The Loud House" and "Clarence" feature LGBT characters.
The difference between these characters and Disney's characters are the respective personalities and screen time.
In the Cartoon Network shows, the LGBT characters aren't centered around their sexuality, but they make recurring appearances during which it is either mentioned or displayed in a rather chill manner. It's not a big deal, and it doesn't completely define their character; however, it is explicitly stated.
In Disney Channel's "Andi Mack," the best friend of the main title character goes through a crisis with himself as he realizes that he's gay and has a crush on a friend. There was an entire episode centering around it.
We do need at least one or two shows in which young LGBT characters have to work out their self-doubt and internalized homophobia. This is good for young audiences who might be going through the same thing.
However, we especially need shows where these characters are happy in their sexuality and face no repercussions for it. Not every LGBT story should be about the trials and tribulations of being LGBT, and that's where Cartoon Network excels.
It's important for young LGBT people to see other people, just like them, in happier situations. It sends the message that no matter where that young LGBT person is in their life, it can and will get better.
In "Steven Universe," two main LGBT characters get married. They also include an intersex character, Stevonnie, who uses they/them pronouns.
"Clarence" features two already married women raising a young boy. "The Loud House" has two dads raising children together, and one episode centers around a high school girl getting a love note from another girl in her locker and going on a date with her.
In "Onward," the openly gay character that Disney has recently created in an attempt to pull in more LGBT viewers, is a troll named Specter. This angered many LGBT people online.
Not only was her girlfriend and their relationship barely mentioned, but why would Disney make their "first and only" openly gay character so ugly? Some LGBT people fear that Disney will continue to make LGBT characters, but only make them ugly, thus associating being LGBT to ugliness in young children’s minds. Almost as if intentionally trying to tell them that being LGBT is ugly.
A similar concern can be found in the Jewish community. Many Disney villains are given typically Jewish traits, such as longer noses or dark, curly hair, such as Mother Gothel and Captain Hook.
They also made her a cop, which seems like incredibly poor taste given the LGBT community's strenuous history with cops. Much, if not most, of the LGBT community has an inherent distrust of cops. It stems from multiple events, such as the Stonewall Riot, in which cops persecuted LGBT protestors. “No cops at pride” is a popular phrase in the LGBT community due to this distrust. To go back to the example from before, it’s nearly as tone-deaf as having a villain be Jewish and greedy for nothing but money.
Despite the upset Specter has caused, many LGBT fans urged the rest of the community to see the movie in theaters. The basis of their request is the same as when a bad movie with a person of color or a woman as the lead premiers.
If they make a movie with a minority and it does badly in the box office, they will blame the presence of the minority rather than whatever the actual problem was.
The pleas of the select few didn't stop "Onward" from bombing at the box office, however. According to Forbes, the movie was given a $200 million budget, but only managed to earn $40 million domestically and $68 million internationally, despite the main characters being voiced by popular actors such as Tom Holland and Chris Pratt.
Hopefully, this will not stop Disney from continuing to make LGBT characters in movies. Maybe in the future, they'll take notes from Cartoon Network and do it right.