Take A Look at Disney

6/21/21

A Look at Disney’s LGBTQ Characters: Mouse (Big Shot)

 

 

Big Shot is a new sports drama from David E. Kelley and Brad Garrett about a college basketball coach fired after losing his temper and is forced to coach a team at an all-girls private high school.  The show is pretty good, I binged the first eight episodes in a day.  And well, there is an LGBTQ character on the team.  That being Carolyn “Mouse” Smith.  I like her for the most part but there are some issues that I have noticed with Mouse. Mouse isn’t exactly the smartest girl on the team and that well,  I don’t know if dumb gay is a trope but it does feel like one.  And that is kind of the feeling that I was getting from the character of Mouse.

 

Putting it another way,  it kinda feeds into the gay best friend trope. Not completely but there are hints of it.

 

Almost as long as rom-coms and high school TV shows have existed, the Gay Best Friend™ has been a source of comedy and controversy. Often an important first step in introducing queer storylines to mainstream audiences, the GBF trope had a tendency to reinforce stereotypes about gay men: that their only interests are makeovers, shopping and drama, that their struggles and relationships fade into the background unless they’re supporting a straight person’s story,

 

 

Mouse has other interests and is allowed to develop feelings for another girl that we see her get with in the eighth episode and share a kiss.  Now Kelley is no stranger to TV as he also created Ally McBeal but I was curious about something about that show he created.  And this piece from Out goes into it better than I could.  It basically says that it hasn’t aged well and that is part of the feeling that I’m getting with Mouse that in a couple years,  even though she is a good character, she’ll feel dated.

Now, there is something else that I want to mention. In an episode, before the girls are about to take a biology test, Mouse says that colonels will kill her if she fails.  She was referring to her parents and that is something that I don’t think heard mentioned before.  She is an LGBTQ+ child of military parents and that is something I can relate to.  It’s not always the easiest thing in the world.

 

There have been strides made to make it feel more inclusive and welcoming, which is where MilPride comes in. 

 

 

A national group serving LGBT service members and their families has launched a new program to provide support for the LGBT kids of U.S. troops. Milpride was announced Saturday in Washington, D.C., at the American Military Partner Association’s annual gala.

 

I understand that the military isn’t looked at favorably by a lot of members of the community and I get it and things were worse back when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a thing.  The way that Mouse speaks of her parents made them sound rather strict and we haven’t met them yet.  We don’t even know if she’s out to them.

 

I would hope things would go well for her as she’s nice,  which is another trend I’m a bit tired of seeing, often you see LGBTQ characters but sometimes, that is all these characters are given.  On the other hand, her new girlfriend is I guess a little stuck up but not snobby.  They actually work well together.  And the kiss as I mentioned is cute.

 

 

 

 

Even if it was a little weird for me as her gf Harper is played by Darcy Rose Byrnes who I know for voicing Amber on Sofia The First.  

 

 

 

Just a side thing but focusing back on Mouse, I like her and she is a nice character but it does feel like the other girls on her team have received more development than her.  I hope more is done with her as I like her but it sometimes feels like the show forgets about her.

 

Still, I would recommend this show as it’s not a bad watch and has a lot of nice moments

A Look at Disney’s LGBTQ Characters: The Characters of MCU

 

 

I’ll be honest in saying that this is one of two entries that I have not been looking forward to covering (the other being Star Wars).  It’s less to do with the franchises and more so the toxic fans these franchises have.  I love superheroes and I do love the MCU  but it’s been lacking in the queer rep department.  When one looks to the Arrowverse, it can be observed that this is an area where they have been blowing the MCU out of the water.  For instance, they gave us the first trans superhero on tv played by trans actress, Nicole Maines as she plays Dreamer on Supergirl.

 

So, that is cool and this’ll be the last time I bring up the Arrowverse in comparison.  Also,  this is not a complete overview of every MCU character that identifies as LGBTQ as I didn’t watch Agents of Sheild nor the Netflix Marvel shows.  So, I do not know if any characters identified as part of the community on those shows.  With that said,  I will try my best to cover these characters.   With that out of the way, we are going to start with a character where it wasn’t confirmed but I hope that if he shows up in the future it is.

 

Billy – WandaVision

 

 

 

Now, this one is a little tricky as Billy is just a kid, and while sites like Digital Spy listed him as the MCU’s first openly gay superhero.  Thing is, that was never brought up in the show and on the one hand, I’m okay with that as he’s still a young kid.  Perhaps if he and his brother had been aged up to teens, this could be explored.  I wanted to start with Billy as his comics counterpart is gay and that is an important part of his character. 

 

 

Marvel has published same-sex weddings before, but Hulkling and Wiccan’s nuptials represent the first time that two gay superheroes have tied the knot.

 

So, I have hope that we could see this developed more in the future.  Now, let’s move onto a character whose identity was cut.

 

 

 

 

I hate Thor: Ragnarok.  It is my least favorite MCU film everything about it ticks me off.   Earlier this year I was watching a video from the YouTube channel about queer coding that I’ve referenced in this series before and that was the first time I learned that a scene was cut from the film that would’ve confirmed Valkirye as bisexual.  

 

 

It’s not unusual for entire storylines to be cut from the final version of a film, but the choice to cut out a key scene confirming Valkyrie’s attraction to women feeds into the larger Hollywood problem of bi-erasure and straightwashing that’s been a staple of big-screen adaptations of other source material for decades.

 

 

Now I did not know who this character was before this film but upon a simple Google search, it can be seen that she is bisexual in the comics.

 

 

 

 

Now, this ties into a larger issue and that is a bit more personal,  bi-erasure.  Often, the B in LGBTQ is forgotten and this is such a prominent example of that.  

 

Bisexual erasure or bisexual invisibility is a pervasive problem in which the existence or legitimacy of bisexuality (either in general or in regard to an individual) is questioned or denied outright.

 

Yeah, this stings and it honestly makes me hate the movie even more.   Now, let’s move on to another Thor character where promos for his self-titled show revealed him to be gender fluid.

 

 

 

To break it down,  it can be explained this way.   

Gender-fluid people are people whose gender changes over time. A gender-fluid person might identify as a woman one day and a man the next.

They might also identify as agender, bigender, or another nonbinary identity.

 

I can absolutely see this with Loki and I hope that this is explored in the show proper but I don’t have many hopes.  Now, there were also reports that Loki would be bisexual but that came from We Got This Covered and they are known for making stories up.  From what I understand, this is accurate to the comics and Tom Hiddleston when speaking on Loki being gender fluid had this to say. 

 

“It’s always been there, in the history of the character, in the mythology and in the comics. I was aware of it from the moment I was first cast. So it’s a thrill that we get to touch on that in some way,” he explains, though he’s hesitant to spoil anything. “How we do [touch on that], I think I want to leave the audience to find out.”

 

 

That does make me hopeful that more will be explored as the show goes but I’m not exactly holding my breath on this one.   Now onto the character that was the biggest joke in this regard.  In the opening scenes of Endgame, director Joe Russo cameoed in the therapy scene with Steve and reveals that his character’s husband was blipped out of existence when Thanos snapped his fingers.

 

 

You know what’s really frustrating, the same news outlets that were calling out the exclusively gay moment with LeFou praised this scene as a milestone.  When in reality, it’s no different than that.  It was the same thing really.  As pointed out by PinkNews.  

 

 

We don’t want scraps, or crumbs. Joe Russo’s character in Endgame is a crumb. What’s more, that crumb, in subsequent press interviews, has been dressed up as a golden nugget.

 

 

As put here this is a crumb that while it may have been well-intentioned but the community is tired of only getting scraps.  We deserve better than this.  This angered me on the same level as the LeFou moment.

 

Make no mistake, I like the MCU but in my opinion, when going over these characters and listing the ones I was going to look at for this retrospective, they have disappointed me the most.   Marvel is the biggest thing in entertainment right now and there are a lot of LGTBQ+ fans but time and again, those fans have been failed by the MCU.  And sad to say, I don’t see this stopping anytime soon

A Look at Disney’s LGBTQ Characters: Sherri and Paula (The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers)

 

 

What comes to mind when you think of Disney sports movies?  For many, it is probably The Mighty Ducks and its two sequels.   Now,  this past March a brand new show set in the world of Ducks debuted and at best, this show is an answer to Cobra Kai.  It’s cute and fun, however, we aren’t here to discuss the new team but rather two of the moms of one of the new players.

 

Yeah, I gotta be honest and say that these characters get nothing to do.  I give you Sherri and Paula, they are in so little of the show that I couldn’t even find a picture of them together online.

 

 

 

They seem nice but we really don’t get to know them,  I mean their blurbs on LezWatch are more about their son than them.  It’s frustrating.  I mean I get that parents want to be proud of their kid(s) but there should be more to them than that.  When the show first started, I was happy with the inclusion as it reflected the modern day but the problem there is that there are other Disney+ shows such as High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Big Shot, and Diary of a Future President doing this better.  And you know why those characters are allowed to be their own characters and are able to explore who they are. Granted, all of those characters are teens whereas these two are already married but I still think something more could have been done with them.

So, what do we learn about them? They love Broadway showtunes and this is found out when Goob,  one of their son’s friends has a phone withdrawal while at a sleepover and he sings showtunes to distract the moms as a way to get his phone back.  Other than that, we don’t know anything about these two.  Sure, this is only the first season but seriously I think more could’ve been done.

 

Now, something that TV Tropes mention and something that I noticed is that their son could be bisexual because he does get a girlfriend in the end but also the way that he talks of his best friend, Evan comes off like a crush.  Doing a quick Google search brought me to thisNBC News piece that does tackle this.

 

As many as 6 million children and adults in the U.S. have lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender parents, according to the institute, and its study found that “the female and male offspring of lesbian parents were significantly more likely to report same-sex attraction, sexual minority identity, and same-sex experience.”

 

This is fine and a little interesting but once again, this is more about their son than them.  I do like this show and I get that these two are recurring characters but I do believe that more could have been done to establish who they are and what they want in life.  This is perhaps the one disappointing aspect of this otherwise decent show

A Look at Disney’s LGBTQ Characters: Disney Launchpad Short Films

 

 

 

On the last Friday of May, Disney+ launched a collection of short films that serve as part of an anthology project called Launchpad.  This project is meant to give directors that are so often ignored a voice. As noted in this piece from The New York Times.  

 

 

the studio’s new initiative to support and uplift underrepresented filmmakers. Historically, Disney hasn’t had a strong track record for representation

 

I have watched all but one of these shorts, but two stand out for this series as they both deal with LGBTQ themes in different ways.  Before we get those, there is another titled Let’s Be Tigers, which deals with a girl dealing with the grief of losing her mother while babysitting a four-year-old boy.  And her charge has two fathers as he refers to them both as Daddy and Papi but they aren’t the focus of the short film.  Still, it is nice to see this family dynamic normalized.  With that out of the way,  I wish to take a look at the two short films that heavily deal with LGTBQ themes.  Let’s start with the more lighthearted of the two,  Growing Fangs.

 

 

 

Growing Fangs follows a queer Mexican-American Human/Vampire named Val as she tries to fit in at her new Monster School.  This short film was directed by a bisexual director named Anne Marie Pace and it deals with Val trying to find her place in this world including trying to impress her crush Elsie but goes south when it’s revealed she’s part human.  You see, the month school’s basketball team is called the Horrid Humans and it’s an obvious stand-in for how media has negatively depicted minorities.  A bit on the nose but I believe it works.  Looking at the vampire angle is the least surprising part as they have long been associated with the community. Think Lestat.

 

 

This also ties into how horror has often been viewed as a safe space for the LGBTQ community. This is something that my friend Chrystal Williams wrote about for the website,Gayly Dreadful.  

 

Fear is an all controlling presence and admittedly the LGBTQ community is very well accustomed to fear.

 

As  Chrystal writes here, fear is all-encompassing and that is something that horror is built on and it can also serve as a release valve for people, which is something the LGBTQ community often needs.   The other angle here is the character of Val being human and vampire that meant to be an allegory to what it is like to be Mexican-American.  This is perhaps the more important part to look at when looking at Val’s character.  As noted in this 2019 piece by Priscilla Blossom.

 

For marginalized kids like myself, it can be hard to grow up without allies or anyone who understands our position. Growing up in the late 90s, I was the first openly bisexual girl that I knew of in my middle school—and people openly hated me for it. Kids would avoid me in the halls, say terrible things, and play mean tricks on me. I became depressed and anxious, struggling with suicidal ideation.

 

 

This is something that Pace wanted to address in her short film as she explains in the making-of featurette, she wanted to know young kids that identify as part of this community to know that they are loved for who they are.  This short film is a great first step and honestly with the world that Pace created, I would love to see Growing Fangs be developed more into either a Disney+ movie or series as the world s so rich with potential and I would love to see more of Val figuring out who she is.

 

 

 

Now,  this next short film is the one that I was so excited about when I saw the Launchpad trailer.  This short film is titled The Little Prince(ss).  When I first saw the title for this short, I thought that maybe Disney would finally be giving us a trans character. Not exactly but this film does tackle the idea of gender identity.  

 

Gender identity is your deeply-held inner feelings of whether you’re female or male, both, or neither. Your gender identity isn’t seen by others.

 

 

Now,  this is handled rather well as this comes to us from Moxie Peng and they are nonbinary.  They mentioned part of this short was based on their experiences growing up.

 

 

 

Now, this film tackles something I have discussed long before I even knew and understood what gender identity was.  You see, this short film follows two young boys, Gabriel and Robbie.  The former is the self-titled Little Prince(ss).  He loves ballet, playing with dolls, and loves the color pink.  This is where the thing I mentioned earlier is that it often feels as though there is a double standard in that it is wrong for boys to play with girls’ toys.

 

 

Robbie’s father, Mr. Chen believes wholeheartedly and gets ballistic when he sees his son making a doll for Gabriel and takes it over to the boy’s house.   The boy’s parents see nothing wrong but Mr. Chen and tell Gabriel’s parents that it’s not right for a boy to play with dolls.  It’s uncomfortable but this is based on a real moment from Peng’s life when something similar happened to them and their parents.

 However, Mr. Wang does not budge. He tells Mr. Chen that he is proud of his son regardless of what his interests are and that he needs to understand that. He also explains that he is proud of Rob for seeing Gabriel for who he is and accepting it. Mr. Chen, speechless, quietly leaves.

 

 

Okay, so I wanna break this down a little bit.  First, I’ve dealt with people like Mr. Chen. Last year, when I was taking a course on the history of the internet and how to use it, there was an awful guy in that course that couldn’t understand that it’s okay and actually healthy forboys to play with dolls.  

 

 

 

Giving a boy a doll gives him the opportunity to explore his nurturing and caring side, and can teach a boy as much about being a father, just as dolls teach girls about motherhood.

 

 

If you know me, you that I love stuffed animals, and having them as a child helped me later in life to connect with people.  This is small but also important and I also want to look at Mr. Chen and his refusal to accept his son’s new friend.  Sadly, this is a reality for so many.  Mr. Wang takes this the best by saying he’s proud of his son and Robbie for looking past those differences.  As this source says, however, it’s okay to give them time but they may not always come around.

No matter how angry this person gets at you, remember it’s not your fault, and you’ve done nothing wrong for being LGBTI+. Don’t feel you need to change to satisfy this person – the only thing that needs to change is this person’s unaccepting attitude or behaviour.

 

The Disney Wiki highlights something that I didn’t even realize but it makes sense,  at one point, Gabriel is seen watching the 1998 Mulan.  And many believe that film to have LGTBQ+ themes.  Many have read Shang as bisexual.  Moreover,  Mulan has to hide her true identity when parading as Ping.  Which when one thinks about it, it ties into how so many in the community have to hide who they are as a way of being accepted by the normal.  This is something we see with Mr. Chen and how he can’t accept something that challenges his worldview.  It’s a heartbreaking reality that so many have to face.  Now, much like Val,  this is about an LGBTQ+ character of color.  Here being a young Chinese boy and well, I don’t think that makes things any easier.   And as we can see being Chinese and queer isn’t easy. 

 

Homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997, but gay marriage remains illegal. The picture on trans and other queer rights is mixed.

 

That is where another important angle comes in as the Chen family had moved here (the states) from China for a better life.   And well, we see how that goes.   Thankfully, Gabriel and Robbie decided to stay friends despite Mr. Chen’s outdated beliefs.

 

 

 

This short film is beautiful and heartbreaking but also uplifting.  I can’t recommend this film enough.   It is honestly one of the best things I’ve watched thus far for this series.

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