The importance of representing LGBTQ people in kids TV
The importance of representing LGBTQ+ relationships in kids TV
Buzz Lightyear, one of Andy’s beloved toys in Toy Story 3 had his own feature film released in UK cinemas on June 17th. The film was set to be the movie that made Andy buy his first Buzz Lightyear action figure. The film has unfortunately been met with some controversy and has been banned in 14 countries including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and China. What could this film have shown that warranted it being banned in so many countries you ask? It features two women sharing a kiss…
Disney initially removed the kiss in all screenings but opted to have it remain after Pixar employees protested. However, this is not the first time that homosexuality has been censored in children’s content .
The movie ‘Fantastic Beasts 3: The Secrets of Dumbledore’ was modified for Chinese audiences, two lines of dialogue referencing a previous love story between two male characters were removed. The Queen biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, had all references to Freddie Mercury’s homosexuality removed when released in China; these references were integral to the plot of the film, such as the Mercury’s coming out and how he helped reduce the stigmatisation of Aids.
With all the controversy that has come out of a 2 second kiss between characters it comes as no surprise as to why icons such as Dame Kelly Holmes have taken such a long time to come out.
While Disney was applauded for its progressive stance by refusing to censor the scene to cater to certain audiences and its star, Chris Evans, calling critics of the scene idiots. It does bring up an important question, why does representation matter?
Firstly, most cinema is a reflection of our society (unless it directly makes a point about it). There are members of the LGBTQ+ society within our lives and so they should be represented in Cinema and films. It would be harmful to just pretend that these communities did not exist and would just add to the visibility issues many of them face.
Representation allows members of the LGBTQ+ to have characters they can relate to. There are experiences and struggles that only members of certain communities understand and when members of those communities do not have someone close to them in real life to relate to, often seeing someone of fiction with the same experiences and struggles can be extremely beneficial to their development as a person and their sense of belonging in the world. Granted, the new Buzz Lightyear movie may not bring this sense of belonging but simply being seen makes a big difference.
In addition to this, positive representation in films can help increase self confidence in marginalised groups, reduce stereotyping of underrepresented groups and can help provide validation to unique feelings.
Disney seems to have taken a huge step forward and it’s great that they have decided to defend the kiss, but until they take a solid stance, perhaps having a story where the main character is in an LGBTQ+ relationship, there is still a long way to go for LGTBQ+ members getting the representation they need.