Walt Disney’s Waltz with LGBTQ

“I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the park. I want them to feel they’re in another world.”

In the last entry, “Gay Rom-Coms: The Final Frontier?”, we revealed Hollywood and the alphabet community’s delusions of grandeur in communities it professes to serve. Its own self-aggrandizement forever eclipses any possibility of consideration for the harm it inflicts. With this in mind, our children’s minds and futures are clearly but collateral damage in the wake of pursuing their own agendas.

At the center of this rainbow/trans-storm was, of all entities, the Walt Disney corporation. When animator, producer and entrepreneur Walter Elias Disney spoke those words more than 60 years ago, he envisioned a fantasy land like no other. Not just in his theme parks, but in his movies as well.

Like an old married couple, when Walt died in 1966, his vision died soon after him.

As the years went by, Disney’s legacy slowly began to slide in ways there were nuanced and subtle, while others that were more blatant and conspicuous (such as allowing “Gay Days” at most of their theme parks); clearly showing a direction averse to Walt’s vision. However, for those paying attention, Walt’s namesake had been heading toward its current destination for a very long time.

In 2020, Disney/Pixar released their latest collaboration, “Onward,” a film about two teenage elf brothers on a great adventure, which would be an ideal premise for a Disney movie- if they stopped there. Apparently, there was an envelope they felt needed pushing, because Disney decided that it was the time and place to introduce their first openly gay film character.                                                                                            

Despite having a star-studded cast including Chris Pratt, Tom Holland and Olivia Spencer, gay characters in a kid’s movie was simply a bridge too far for audiences worldwide- the film crashed and burned at the box office. Made with a budget of $200M, the movie was banned in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia due to its LGBTQ relationship reference.

According to deadline.com, this was the scene in question:                                                                                                                           

“The two lead characters, voiced by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, are disguised as their mother’s centaur boyfriend, Officer Bronco, and get into a conversation about parenting with two female police officers. The purple cyclops officer named Specter, voiced by Lena Waithe, commiserates with Officer Bronco and says. “It’s not easy being a new parent – my girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out, okay?”              

That one scene, albeit subtle, was enough.                                                                                                                                    

For most of us, not breaking even on our investment is usually a hint to change course. Obviously, Disney filmmakers didn’t get that hint. 

Fast forward two years.

Despite “Onwards’” epic fail, Disney decided to go for broke not once, but twice in 2022.

In June they released the long-awaited, “Lightyear,” the solo film featuring the lead star of the “Toy Story” film series, ‘Buzz Lightyear.’ Once again, a star-packed effort: Chris Evans, James Brolin, Keke Palmer and Taika Waititi led the cast. And once again, featuring chiseled, crafted, and state-of-the-art animation.

What Happened?

After the ‘Toy Story’ series grossed more than $3 billion worldwide, this effort should have been a hit with adults and kids alike; it was anything but. What happened? There were many reasons given, from replacing Tim Allen with Chris Evans as Lightyear’s voice, to the time of year and date of release.

According to the film critic site worldofreel.com, this perspective was offered as a response: “The film was projected to bring in $70M-$85M over the 3-day weekend, but Disney is now looking at a $45-$50 million opening. That’s a $30 million negative.  Then there’s the same-sex kiss controversy. Don’t get me wrong, I find nothing wrong with it, but didn’t Disney realize the consequences of adding gay content to an animated film of theirs? Trying to sell it to a fairly religious America was a stretch, especially when parents are the ones in control of what their kids can and cannot see in theaters.  Add in the fact that a few conservative congressmen and senators have recently complained about the gay content in “Lightyear”, and you have a perfect recipe for lukewarm box-office performance.” 

As such, the stage was set for their next doomed-to-fail film endeavor, “Strange World.” The tagline: ‘Journey to a place where nothing is as it appears.”  Truer words have never been spoken.

As with its predecessors, ‘Onward’ and ‘Lightyear,’ It was led (again) by mega-stars. The premise was three generations of explorers trying to escape from an uncharted island with strange creatures. Oh, I almost forgot: a gay teen trying to date another boy- and his father is helping them hook-up.    

For the Umpteenth Time!

Once again, audiences made it clear that regardless of the pomp and circumstance offered, they wanted nothing to do with homosexuality in a children’s film. National Review’s critique sheds some light on the reasons why: 

“Disney suffered one of its worst theatrical releases ever with its latest animated movie Strange World, which brought in just $18.6 million over the five-day holiday weekend despite being heralded as the first Disney movie to include an openly gay main character.

Strange World had Disney’s second-worst opening weekend ever, behind only the pandemic-era release of West Side Story directed by Steven Spielberg, Variety reported Sunday. Ultimately, Strange World only garnered about half of its projected long weekend revenue.

The film featured a star-studded cast including voice acting from Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Lucy Liu, and Gabrielle Union, and sported a massive budget between $120 and $130 million, the Daily Mail writes.

Expectations were initially high for Strange World with Disney projecting the film to earn between $30 and $40 million dollars over the long weekend. However, those figures were rapidly, and significantly, revised downwards when it was understood how poorly the movie was performing with audiences.”

Get the Hint, Already!

Unfortunately, there are many more examples of Hollywood’s ‘insanity’ experiments (doing something  the same way repeatedly, while expecting a different result). Studios and TV execs alike feel that if you bludgeon and barrage your prospective clientele with impunity, you will ultimately beat them into submission.

Both Hollywood and Disney clearly believe that if they put a gay or trans-person in every third commercial, in every other movie, and in every role that would otherwise go to a straight actor or actress, America would finally get it. To make it clear to the alphabet people, we do get it. We just don’t want it. 

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