Should we be excited that Pixar’s ‘Onward’ has a lesbian character?
Disney and Pixar Studios has a new film, Onward, coming to theaters that promises to have a lesbian character. The question is: should we even bother?
In a word: no.
After all, a lot of mainstream movies have touted groundbreaking LGBTQ characters and scenes– but they’re really not what they’re cracked up to be.
Is there really a lesbian in Pixar’s ‘Onward’?
The animated film Onward is a fantasy film about two elf brothers (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) who go on a quest to see their dead father one last time using magic.
Yes, there is magic in the film as well as dragons, wizards, and creatures like elves and cyclops. But this world also has electricity, TVs, and cars.
As they go on their quest, the two brothers meet Officer Spector– voiced by out actress and screenwriter Lena Waithe– who is a cyclops police officer as well as a lesbian.
This character only appears in one scene but she is described as being “vital to the emotional arc of the story.”
However, Officer Spector isn’t mentioned in any of the promotional material and doesn’t appear in the official trailers.
Likewise, nothing indicates that this character is a lesbian except that in one scene, she admits she has a girlfriend.
Who’s excited about a lesbian in Pixar’s ‘Onward’?
The people behind the film want people to know that having an LGBTQ character in the movie is a serious first in a Disney movie because it’s “handled nearly matter-of-factly within the film itself.”
Dan Scanlon, director of the movie, said, “It’s a modern fantasy world and we want to represent the modern world.”
Speaking of the scene, producer Kori Rae said that “when we wrote it, was kind of fitting and it opens up the world a little bit, and that’s what we wanted.”
Rae also said that Waithe is “an amazing actress and writer– I think we improvised for about an hour for a small part.”
But despite this supposedly groundbreaking thing happening with the film, it seems like it’s only the creators of the movie that are excited about it.
The problem with LGBTQ characters in mainstream movies
As Sam Adams of Slate noted, “The problem is often less with the movies themselves than with the self-congratulatory buildup to them.”
There’s a lot of this buildup that has happened in previous mainstream movies, whether with Disney movies or with other franchise films.
For example, the reportedly queer moment in the live-action Beauty and the Beast was quite fleeting. There was also that quick kiss between two minor female characters in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
In Avengers Endgame, co-director Joe Russo played a nameless survivor who’s grieving over the loss of his partner. In Star Trek Beyond, Sulu’s gay character was reportedly out but they didn’t show any evidence.
So yes, these are pretty much side moments that are non-essential to the movies they’re part of.
Adams did say that Pixar didn’t really point attention to the lesbian character in Onward until after the review embargo of the movie was lifted.
We’re not happy with this sh*t and it needs to stop
Obviously, the LGBTQ community on Twitter weren’t excited about this development and they were quite expressive about it.
One pointed out that the only way to show that LGBTQ people are natural is by depicting them as weird creatures: “Disney’s first openly gay character is an ugly troll that is also a cop.”
Another tweeted that Disney should stop having “these irrelevant side characters who happen to be gay so homophobic countries can easily edit them out.”
A third pointed out that having LGBTQ characters in movies means there is the usual “ambiguously mentions partner in passing during crowd scene.”
Anyway, here’s the trailer of the film that doesn’t show the supposedly lesbian character but supposedly has one.