Disney’s Lightyear is, somewhat confusingly, the movie that Andy from Toy Story watched before buying his shiny spaceman toy. Luckily, Andy’s mom wasn’t a Fox News fan, or she might not have let him watch the movie at all.
A ridiculous controversy has engulfed the newly released film, as social conservatives are triggered by a single kiss featured in the film, simply because that kiss is shared by two women.
On social media, right-wing culture warriors and media personalities such as Ben Shapiro had a meltdown over the children’s animation, tweeting panicked warnings about the same-sex kiss, stating that the film reflected a “moral collapse.”
Ted Cruz went on a bizarre rant about the film in which he complained about “lesbian toys” being sold as Lightyear merchandise.
This week, that same-sex kiss resulted in the movie being banned in no less than 14 Middle Eastern and Asian countries, according to the New York Times. Actor Chris Evans, the voice of Buzz Lightyear, dismissed the offended critics as “idiots,” while Disney was applauded by progressives for refusing to censor the scene.
Ironically, this was never Disney’s intention; the kiss was initially cut from the film entirely, as Disney (along with other studios) often re-edit films to conform with local censorship laws around the world, which is why their tepid attempts at LGBT representation are so brief and non-impactful – they can easily be cut without disrupting the pacing of a single scene. Online, Disney’s half-hearted inclusivity is often referred to as “passive progressive.”
The now infamous Lightyear kiss (which is, at best, a quick peck) was only reinstated in the film after an open letter in March by “the LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar, and their allies” criticized Disney for brutally cutting “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection … regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar.”
Despite conservative attempts to create a narrative around a supposed “gay agenda,” Disney is simply trying to avoid bad publicity – Disney’s agenda is to make money, without alienating their queer audience, as well as easily panicked suburbanites. The majority of Disney films feature heterosexual characters kissing – it’s never been a problem before.
But the culture war against the LGBT community is intensifying, to a frightening degree, and Disney is now stuck in a position of attempting to position itself as an inclusive corporation, while trying to appease bigots who believe that the sight of two cartoon characters kissing is tantamount to “grooming” (clearly, these people have never watched a Bugs Bunny cartoon).
Amusingly, former Disney collaborator Alex Hirsch, creator of the magnificent Gravity Falls, recently released a video montage highlighting the ridiculous censorship requests he received from Disney; one of these requests specifically asks him to tone down the physical affection between two male characters.
Hirsch has called out Disney on Twitter before, mocking the company for embracing Pride aesthetics while censoring every single hint of same-sex attraction in their stories. Disney’s “gay agenda” certainly didn’t warrant a backlash, but a quick kiss that was never supposed to make the final cut isn’t much to brag about either.
Lightyear takes one small step towards inclusivity, interpreted as one giant leap in the minds of bigots.