Working to change mentalities they consider "backward," Disney and Pixar studios have reinstated in their new animated film 'Lightyear' a scene in which two women kiss.
“A kiss, but all in all, what is it?” asks Cyrano de Bergerac with grace and levity under the balcony of the beautiful Roxane. But when a kiss is instrumentalized and used to advocate for LGBT rights in a children’s movie, it becomes a very different issue.
Fans of Buzz Lightyear, the toy character in the Toy Story films, know the arrogant astronaut’s motto: “To infinity and beyond!” Disney and Pixar studios seem to have appropriated the motto in their race to promote LGBTQIA+ rights. It’s as if they wanted to apologize, or even repent, for the decades of Disney princesses kissing and marrying Prince Charmings in front of the eyes of millions of young viewers.
While Disney cleverly maintains the mystery and the rumors around the sexual orientation of Frozen‘s Elsa or the young Mirabel of the movie Encanto (2021), thus sparing innocent pairs of eyes to whom it does not matter, the American studios go a step further this year by revealing in the movie Lightyear, now showing, a kiss between two lesbian women. If the scene is described as fleeting, it is probably enough to disturb more than one young soul.
The scene has been prohibited in a dozen countries of the Middle East and Asia with Muslim majority: Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.
“We were warned that this would be a likely outcome,” said American producer Galyn Susman. “But we weren’t going to change the film we wanted to make just because of some countries with — for lack of a better term — backward beliefs,” she added.
In Peru, a chain of cinemas, Cine Planet, had attached the warning “gender theory” to the programming on June 16. But facing so much controversy, the distribution company finally announced on June 18 that the warning was not appropriate.
50% of Disney characters should be gay?
The kissing scene was initially cut by Disney’s subsidiary Pixar Studios. But some employees of these companies protested, accusing the world’s number one entertainment company of not being committed to advancing the rights of LGBT people. The scene was therefore reinstated.
Willingness on the part of Disney to show a strong commitment to the LGBT community is not new. But it has grown considerably in recent years, particularly with the launch of their Reimagine Tomorrow platform. The platform’s aim is to “amplify underrepresented voices and unknown stories,” and to reaffirm “Disney’s long-standing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”
It was via this platform, launched on the occasion of Black History Month in 2021, that Karen Burke, head of the TV arm of 20th Century Fox, a Disney subsidiary, said last April that half of the characters in future Disney films should be “gay or from LGBTQIA+ communities.” This video caused an outcry, and the hashtag #BoycottDisney trended on Twitter.