‘Onward’: Disney’s New Film With LGBT Character Banned in Some Countries

Disney’s new animated film features an LGBT character and it won’t be shown in some middle-eastern countries after a group of petitioners campaigned against the film.

In the film, produced by Pixar, a police officer is an openly gay character, who says, “It’s not easy being a parent…my girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out, OK?”

Onward was released last week but didn’t open well at the box office. The total take for the film last weekend was $39 million, domestically, and $28 million from around the world. This is the lowest opening take for a Disney-Pixar movie.

While the makers attribute the low audience turnout to coronavirus, petitioners – who called for a boycott of the film – say that it is because the film “disrespects the values” of the society.

Ahead of the film’s release, several campaigns and petitions were run to boycott the film.

“We believe that our petition and boycott have had a real and substantial effect. It shows that parents and grandparents are not on board with Hollywood’s LGBT indoctrination agenda, and that we will no longer pay to have our values disrespected,” said Scott Schittl, one of campaigners.

“If Disney loses a lot of money because of the sexual ideas promoted in their films, hopefully they will learn a lesson and stop doing it,” Schittl added.

Banned and censored

Some Middle Eastern countries have banned the film on the same grounds and Russia has censored the police officer’s scene. Quwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia will not show the film and, according to Deadline, Russia has censored the scene in question by changing the word “girlfriend” to “partner” and cutting the scene where the gender of Specter, a supporting character, is mentioned.

However, countries like Bahrain, Lebanon and Egypt are showing the film without any cuts or edits.

Also read: Lesbian Subtext In Bollywood, as Seen Through a Queer Eye

Waithe, the voiceover artist, told the Vareity that saying “my girlfriend” in that particular scene was her idea.

“I was just like, ‘It sounds weird.’..I don’t think I sound right saying ‘Husband’. They [writers] were like, ‘Oh yeah, do that.’ They were so cool and chilled. And it ended up being something special, she said.

Disney’s response

Bob Chapek, the new chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, said that the LGBTQIA+ themes in Disney films and television series isn’t going to affect the company in any way.

According to a New York Times reporter Brooks Barnes, the company’s shareholder, “complained about LGBT themes in Disney content and says stock price is down 20% as a result.”

Chapek, on the contrary, said that the drop in stock price “might have more to do with coronavirus and the worldwide pandemic that we’re facing.”

Disney’s Marvel caught worldwide attention for including LGBTQIA+ content. The Rice of Skywalker has the first same-sex kiss on screen in the marvel franchise.

Similarly, Marvel president Kevin Feige has been endorsing the upcoming film The Eternals which will feature the franchise’s first openly gay superhero. The coming-of age film Love Simon on Netflix is another Disney’s collaboration project, and its second season is underway.

The newly released Onward is about two teenage elf brothers who go on an adventure after their mother gives them special gifts from their dead father.