- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Not everyone was thrilled when Walt Disney Studios included a gay character in last year’s live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” but for LGBT activists that was only the beginning.

GLAAD has released its sixth annual Studio Responsibility Index, analyzing the seven top-grossing studios for positive representations of gay and transgender characters in last year’s releases.

The report condemned Hollywood for a year-to-year decline in LGBT representation on the big screen, and some of the biggest offenders were children’s movies and film adaptations of comic books.

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, insisted that Hollywood has a “social responsibility” to tell stories about the LGBT community.

“On screen, record-breaking films like Black Panther and Wonder Woman prove that not only does inclusion make for great stories — inclusion is good for the bottom line,” Ms. Ellis wrote in the report. “It is time for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) stories to be included in this conversation and this movement.”

Joseph Backholm, president of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, said the GLAAD report is part of the gay rights movement’s broader strategy of pressuring corporations into adopting progressive views on sexuality.

“This is definitely a pattern,” Mr. Backholm said. “They approach businesses and communities and say, ‘Unless you do what we want you to do, we’re going to publicly harm you.’ The tactic is no different than what the Mafia did for centuries.

“The Human Rights Campaign has been doing this with their Corporate Equality Index for a long time, where they create these metrics to determine whether you are pro-gay enough, and then every couple of years they change the metrics,” he said.

Released Tuesday, the report found that 13 percent of last year’s major releases included a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer character, down from 18 percent the previous year. Gay men were twice as likely to be portrayed than lesbians, and there were zero notable transgender characters.

GLAAD, formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, assigned each of the major studios — 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros. — a grade to reflect their commitment to LGBT inclusion.

None of the studios scored four (“good”) or five (“excellent”). 20th Century Fox and Universal received scores of three (“insufficient”); Paramount, Sony and Walt Disney received scores of two (“poor”); and Lionsgate and Warner Bros. received scores of one (“failing”).

One of the major takeaways from the report was the lack of LGBT representation in superhero movies.

Marvel Entertainment, a subsidiary of Walt Disney, received failing grades for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Thor: Ragnarok.” Sony was taken to task for “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Lesbian characters were conspicuously missing from Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman,” and “The LEGO Batman Movie” was similarly straight. Paramount’s “Transformers: The Last Knight” included a “throwaway joke about lesbians,” but no actual lesbians despite “couples confirmed to be queer” in the comics.

GLAAD said it is “becoming increasingly more difficult to ignore that LGBTQ people remain almost completely shut out of Hollywood’s big budget comic films.”

“There have been several films in recent years that have erased a character’s queer identity as they moved from page to screen,” the report said. “In 2017, Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok and DC’s Wonder Woman both included characters who are queer in the source material, but did not include any on screen confirmation of their identities. This must change going forward.”

Several upcoming Marvel titles present opportunities for further LGBT inclusion, the report noted.

The forthcoming “Captain Marvel” franchise could introduce the “lesbian Latina superhero America Chavez,” also known as Miss America, who works closely with Captain Marvel in the comics. The “Black Panther” sequel “should include the romantic relationship between Dora Milaje members Ayo and Aneka,” two female warriors portrayed in the comic books.

Children’s movies released last year also could have included more gay characters, the report found.

Pixar’s “Coco” missed an opportunity to address the topic of sexuality when the ghost of artist Frida Kahlo makes a brief cameo. “Though Frida was bisexual, nothing in the film’s fictional rendering reflected that reality,” the report said.

20th Century Fox’s adaptation of “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” also failed to point out that one of the main characters, Harold Hutchins, is revealed to have a husband late in the children’s novel series.

“While the flash forward did not occur in this film, the ending did leave open the possibility of a sequel film,” the report said. “Hopefully, a future installment of the franchise will include Old Harold and his husband.”

Lionsgate’s “Power Rangers” included a scene in which one of the Rangers questions her sexuality. Although it was “refreshing” for the movie to acknowledge that “queer people exist,” GLAAD said the film “does not go much further” into the Ranger’s story, so her character was not counted as gay in the report.

There are signs that GLAAD is moving the goalposts on what counts as sufficient LGBT representation in film.

This year’s Responsibility Index called for studios to “make sure that 20% of annual major studio releases include LGBTQ characters by 2021, and that 50% of films include LGBTQ characters by 2024.”

And last year’s report introduced a “new grading system” to hold Hollywood studios to a “higher standard reflective of the LGBTQ inclusion that is thriving in other forms of media.”

Making movies more LGBT-inclusive is important because the entertainment industry has the “unique power” to “change hearts and minds,” the GLAAD report said.

But film studios should be aware that “huge percentages of the country don’t want movies to introduce certain themes, messages and ideas to their kids,” Mr. Backholm said, accusing the gay rights movement of pushing its agenda on children.

“There is no doubt that they want to get children as young as possible,” he said. “We’re seeing curricula introduced in kindergarten all the way through high school where they are trying to propagandize kids their views of sexuality and gender, which the vast majority of the world thinks is not correct.”

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide