In a world full of magical tales and enchanting characters, Disney has long held a special place in our hearts. Throughout its history, the iconic production house has brought us countless memorable stories and unforgettable moments. While the magic of Disney has always appealed to a diverse audience, there has been a notable absence of queer representation.
However, in a refreshing turn of events, Disney’s recent release of “Strange World” proves that the company is finally getting it right. This ground-breaking animated series celebrates queer identities in a positive and authentic way, offering a joyous and inclusive experience that we’ve been eagerly waiting for.
With its whimsical charm and heartfelt storytelling, “Strange World” takes us on a colourful journey where queerness is celebrated and embraced, leaving us feeling uplifted and hopeful for a more inclusive future in the realm of animation!
The New Era of Disney: The Queer Representation goes from bad to good
For years, we’ve danced with villains like Ursula, sang along with ice queen Elsa, and embarked on underwater adventures with sea creatures like Luca. But let’s face it, Disney has been playing a bit of a game of hide-and-seek when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation. We’ve had queer-coded villains, background characters that might be lesbian, and characters with lines that could easily be snipped away if the need arose.
Recently, the release of the movie Lightyear stirred up controversy with a same-sex kiss between two female characters. This scene, depicting a loving and chaste kiss between two women in a long-term relationship, caused the film to be banned in several countries.
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A Controversial Kiss
The controversy surrounding the said scene was fuelled by two main issues: Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which restricts discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity to students under the age of nine, and Disney’s efforts to have the law repealed. Initially, the Lightyear kiss was slated to be removed from the final version of the movie but was eventually reinstated due to protests from Disney employees. The scene challenged societal norms and sparked debates about inclusion, representation, and the appropriate age for discussing sexual orientation and gender identity.
Now in the same year as in when former Disney CEO Bob Chapek earned backlash for the company’s response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the studio released Strange World, which features a protagonist who is irrefutably gay!
Ethan Clade: Disney’s first openly gay teen hero
Disney’s new animated movie, Strange World, co-directed by Don Hall and Qui Nguyen, has sparked a positive debate about sexual orientation on a larger scale. One of the protagonists, a teenager named Ethan Clade, is in love with another boy and confides in his supportive father.
The film normalizes same-sex attraction without making it the centre of family conflict. Although some reviewers criticized the lack of an onscreen kiss between the boys, the film’s natural portrayal of their relationship is considered historic for Disney.
Narratively, Strange World follows a classic adventure inspired by Jules Verne and Innerspace, with intriguing subtext about generational differences. The tough grandfather, practical father, and idealistic teenage grandson provide an interesting dynamic.
Ethan’s passion lies in exploration rather than farming, setting him apart from his grandfather Jaeger, who is equally fascinated by the wonders of the world. However, their approaches to adventure and conquest differ. In Strange World, we see a reflection of the current global cycle where generations like boomers, millennials, and Gen Z often clash on various issues, including conversation etiquette and climate change. When Ethan’s homosexuality is revealed, one might expect a clash between generations over queerness. But to our delight, that clash doesn’t happen.
A Message of Unity and Inclusion
Strange World offers a positive and motivating message, reminding us that understanding and embracing diversity can bridge the gaps between generations. It celebrates the importance of love, acceptance, and breaking free from traditional stereotypes. Through this story, we can be inspired to foster harmony, respect, and unity in our own lives, creating a happier and more inclusive world for everyone.
While the film’s universe and visual aesthetics may not be universally appealing to all, it carries an important message about environmentalism shared by much of children’s media today. Disney’s support for an LGBTQ+ friendly and villain-less world is commendable.
A Modern Course in Queer Storytelling
Disney has embarked on a remarkable journey, weaving a vibrant tapestry of queer stories that celebrate diversity, acceptance, and the power of love. Within this magical realm, where imagination knows no bounds, queer characters shine brightly, sharing their authentic experiences and leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of viewers.
“Ethan flirts with heartthrob Diazo while friends from school look on, teasing in a friendly and warm-hearted way. Much to Ethan’s chagrin, his dad Searcher soon joins in, embarrassing his son with an overeager show of acceptance.”
– Matthieu Saghezchi, an Emmy Award-winning animation production designer.
The narratives in Strange World explore universal themes of self-discovery, friendship, and the power of community. They inspire viewers of all ages to embrace their own uniqueness and find strength in their personal journeys. It just like the above quote by Matthieu Saghechiz says, the over whelming positive enforcement by parents in form of embarrassing their children, adorning them can do wonders!
We can say, that through these empowering tales, Disney is sending a resounding message that everyone deserves love, acceptance, and the freedom to be true to themselves.
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Cheering for Happy and Hearty Stories
Strange World takes great care to ensure that queer representation goes beyond mere tokenism or stereotypes. The characters are not defined solely by their sexual orientation or gender identity but are multi-dimensional individuals with hopes, dreams, fears, and ambitions. Their stories highlight the universal experiences of joy, resilience, and triumph, providing a relatable and uplifting narrative for all. Ethan’s character is the nudge towards an accepting society and what an accepting society can do. It also showcases what parental support and warm gestures of acceptance can do for a child.
So, lets cheer for more of such happy and hearty stories in the future!