Month: May 2019

Love Is An Open (Closet) Door – Why Disney needs LGBTQ Characters

After years of Princesses and Princes, isn’t it about time for a Prince and a Prince or a Princess and a Princess?

Disney films are very popular with many members of the LGBTQ Community, with their themes of love, acceptance and finding yourself resonating with many members of the LGBTQ crowd, but as of yet there is no major LGBTQ Disney character.

If Disney introuced a canonically LGBTQ character this would be a great win for representation, helping to create more acceptance and normalisation of the community. Growing up in the 90s I had very little in the way of gay role models, most gay characters represented in the media were 2-dimensional caricatures, often not taken seriously and most definitely not the hero/main character of the story! I feel that if I had, had a gay Disney character to relate to when I was growing up, I would not have struggled as much with accepting myself and internalised homophobia, I would love for the younger generation to have this character I never had growing up.

With campaigns on Twitter to give Elsa from Frozen a female love interest in the ‘Frozen 2’ (#GiveElsaAGirlfriend) trending, it does seem a large majority is on board for Disney to make an LGBTQ character a reality. Whether disney has the courage to make this decision is yet to be seen. I personally think that Elsa would make a great LGBTQ character as her storyline in the first film has parallels to how it feels growing up as person who is LGBTQ, having a secret that no one knows, fear of being seen as monster if people find out etc. Also ‘Let It Go’ has always seemed like a coming out anthem to me, whether intentionally or not.

Iconic characters such as Ursula, Jafar, Hades and Scar are all examples of ‘coded’ gay characters, this is where a character is not explicitly LGBTQ but is heavily implied to be from stereotypes eg they are ‘camp’. WAIT! what do all these characters have in common? Oh right, they are villains! Probably not the most positive LGBTQ representation, but hey! We do have ‘good guy’ coded-gay characters Timon and Pumbaa I guess, may I add Simba was raised by two Dad’s and he turned out fine!

Scar, Ursula and Jafar are ‘coded gay’ villains

There are positive and negatives to coded gay characters, like I’ve said they do often seem to be villains, which negatively impact the stereotypes they are based off. But then again these villainous characters are still great characters and do give some slight representation to the LGBTQ community. Ursula was based on real life drag queen ‘Divine’ which is a nice homage to the late Harris Glenn Millstead who portrayed her,

Disney do seem to be heading in the right direction to actually making a LGBTQ character reality, although I do feel they have made a few missteps along the way. If you have not heard them term “Exclusively Gay Moment” think yourself lucky! This term was brought to us in 2017 by director Bill Condon referring to a scene in the ‘Beauty and Beast’ live action remake, Condon mentioned the phrase in an interview and it then got picked up by various news outlets. At last it seemed we were going to get major LGBTQ representation in a disney film, the “Exclusively Gay Moment” was two male characters dancing together on screen for about 0.8 seconds! I mean it is a small step in the right direction but the way this scene was hyped up, you would have expected a bit more than this tiny moment before the credits roll, also not great that one of the characters in question’s name literally translates to “The Fool”!”

The film Avengers Endgame a Disney property recently received backlash for there first ‘gay’ character. They decided to make their first LGBTQ essentially a background character who is on screen for a minimal amount of time, with the vast amount of these films, its surprising that none of the main characters of the MCU so far are LGBTQ.

Like I said Disney are making some missteps in trying to achieve more inclusion, but I do appreciate that they are trying, although with how other studios are integrating LGBTQ characters seamlessly, it does feel like they are a couple of laps behind.

Disney Channel shows on the other hand have handled LGBTQ characters excellently from what I have seen, Good Luck Charlie did a good job of normalising the fact one of the secondary characters had two Mothers. Andi Mack another disney channel show did a great job covering main character ‘Cyrus’ coming out to his friend without using any labels, this was a heartwarming and very well executed scene. ‘Andi Mack’ later followed this up with Cyrus coming out casually to another character in the show, actually saying the words “I’m Gay’, something we wouldn’t have seen a decade ago on Disney Channel!

Andi Mack’s Cyrus casually comes out

Disney’s animated shows Gravity Falls and Star vs The Forces Of Evil have also given us LGBTQ representation, with Gravity Falls confirming that two male characters where in fact a couple and The Forces of Evil had a scene featuring of various couples (including same-sex ones couples) kissing.

It does look hopeful that we will get a LGBTQ Disney character (in a feature film) in the not too distant future, with Disney showing more and more acceptance of the community. June 1st 2019, Disney will be holding its first official pride event at Disneyland Paris titled ‘Magical Pride’ which will feature a diversity parade and performances from Boy George, Years and Years and Corine. The Disney Store have also recently launched their pride collection including badges, t-shirts and a rainbow Mickey plush toy.

Gay playwright and Lyricist Howard Ashman was instrumental in writing songs for films such as Beauty and The Beast, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin with composer Alan Menken. Ashman tragically passed away from AIDS in 1991, he had kept his diagnosis a secret and had been working on songs for Aladdin from his hospital bed. Ashman died before the release of Beauty and The Beast which featured an homage to Ashman in the credits “To our friend, Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and beast his soul, we will be forever grateful” Ashman’s story is a very sad one, in a time where an AIDS diagnosis was a life sentence and so stigmatised, that you would have to keep it a secret.

Howard Ashman wrote lyrics for many classic disney songs like ‘Beauty and The Beast’, ‘Belle’, ‘Under The Sea’, ‘Part of Your World’ and ‘Prince Ali’. As the end credits of Beauty and The Beast state he gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, it would be lovely if Disney returned the favour and created a gay character in tribute to Howard Ashman.

Shop | Instagram | Twitter

I Really Really Really Really Really Really Like Carly Rae Jepsen’s New Album!

On May 17th 2019 the world’s most likeable pop star Carly Rae Jepsen released her 4th Album ‘Dedicated’! The Canadian singer gained worldwide popularity in 2012 with her hit song “Call Me Maybe”, which became a viral internet sensation.

These days Jepsen popularity isn’t as mainstream, although she gained a loyal cult following within the LGBTQ Community after the release of her 3rd album ‘E•MO•TION”. “E•MO•TION” was full of 80’s inspired songs which was a departure from Jepsen’s previous “Call Me Maybe” sound, the songs however still retaining the catchy earworm quality of her biggest hit. “E•MO•TION” is a great pop record that I highly suggest you check it out if you haven’t already!

Album No.4 ‘Dedicated’ follows on the 80s pop inspired sound of “E•MO•TION” with some disco and modern influences mixed in. Jepsen wrote 200 songs for this album, which where then narrowed down to 15 songs with only the best songs making the cut. The album starts with the bright,electric guitar led funk/pop ‘Julien’ followed by synth led “No Drug Like Me”. “Want You in My Room” and “Happy Not Knowing” are two of the most infectious pop songs on the album and have found myself replaying them again and again, with the latter being my favourite off the album (Its very hard not sing/dance along to it!). “Real Love” is another one of my favourites, there is good balance of quieter vulnerable moments which build up to a danceable beat drop and then back to the stripped back production. ‘Now That I Found You’ is another highlight of the album which has has the most adorable music video featuring Instagram star ‘Shrampton’ a Scottish Fold cat famous for sitting like a human! All in all ‘Dedicated’ is another solid pop album from Carly Rae Jepsen, If had to sum up this album in one word… ADDICTIVE!

Shop | Instagram | Twitter

Leave Your Door Open For The OA

*SPOILER ALERT – contains some spoilers for the first season of The OA*

In December 2016, Netflix dropped the first season of The OA, brought to us by the creative minds of Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij. After Netflix brought us the widely popular,acclaimed show Stranger Things in the summer of 2016, I was expecting The OA to be made from a similar mould. I soon realised when i started watching The OA that the shows were in fact very different, the shows do have some similarities with their sci-fi elements but tonally and storytelling wise they are worlds apart. (Absolutely no shade to Stranger Things!)

The OA revolves around main protagonist Prairie (played by Brit Marling) who arrives back home after being missing for 7 years. Prior to Prairie’s disappearance she was blind. So it is shock to everyone in her home town when they find out that her sight has also returned. Prairie (who know goes by the name ‘The OA’) doesn’t feel comfortable discussing the events of the past 7 years with her parents, instead she seeks solace in 5 strangers.

The 5 recruits (The Crestwood 5) chosen by The OA, leave their houses, leaving their front door’s open and meet at the abandoned house as per their instructions. It is here that the The OA begins her story. It is unknown if there is another reason for the ‘open doors’ aside some sort of trust exercise/showing their openness to believe in The OA. The ‘open doors’ work well as a metaphor for the show itself, as you have to go into the show with an open mind, you have allow yourself to go with the flow and see where the story takes you.

The OA recounts her kidnapping and the ensuing events, with the Crestwood 5 returning day after day to the unfinished house to get the next instalment. Eventually The OA teaches them about the movements, a succession of strange dance moves, there are six movements and if performed simultaneously with 5 other people, it will allow them to travel to another dimension! The movements might seem a little strange at first but you soon get used to them, the movements were created by choreographer Ryan Heffington, who previously did the choreography for Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and ‘Elastic Heart’ Music videos.

‘The OA’ has a fair few mysteries/unanswered questions which leave the viewer wanting to re-watch the show to look for clues or things they have missed. With the big question of season 1 being is The OA telling the truth or not? Has she just made this elaborate story up as a way of dealing with her trauma? Leaving the viewer and the Crestwood 5 both trying to answer the question of whether this character is telling the truth or if she has completely fabricated this fantastical story. Unlike other shows though ‘The OA’ does answer some of the mysteries along the way and S2 does answer some of the big questions of S1 which is much more satisfying for fans and viewers of the show than just piling on mystery after mystery with no answers in sight. (I’m looking at you ‘Lost’!)

‘The OA’ has a great cast with a lot of interesting and multi layered characters. My favourite characters have to be The OA and Betty Broderick Allen AKA BBA (Phyllis Smith), as felt like I could personally connect with these two characters most, BBA is also great at adding some comedic relief to the show! It also great to see ‘Buck’, a young trans character, played by trans actor Ian Alexander. Jason Isaacs plays the wicked but ever so intriguing to watch ‘Hap’, his scenes with The OA have to be some of my favourite in the series with their cat and mouse dynamic.

Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij have created something special with ‘The OA’, the kind of story that stays with you long after you have experienced it.

I encourage you to watch The OA if you haven’t already and to go into the show with your metaphorical door open!

PS The S2 finale broke my mind!

Shop | Instagram | Twitter

Facebook
Facebook
Instagram