Queer off screen: The lamest LGBTQI depictions in recent movies
This pride month we’re looking back at LGBTQI representation in Hollywood. Read on for our 2018 report.
GLAAD’s Studio Responsibility Index revealed that 2017 was a poor year for LGBTQI representation. In fact, the findings outlined in the annual report exploring LGBTQI representation in major motion pictures suggests the amount of LGBTQI depictions shown on screen in major Hollywood movies are the lowest they’ve been since 2012.
Of all the movies analysed in 2017, there were just fourteen major studio releases featuring LGBTQI characters, of which none featured a transgender character. To put that into perspective, 2016 boasted 23 major studio movies with LGBTQI characters with one including a transgender character.
However, it isn’t just the numbers that are infuriating. The report also suggests the quality of LGBTQI representation in 2017 was even worse than the quantity. Out of those fourteen films only nine passed the Vito Russo Test – GLAAD’s equivalent of the Bechdel test. The rating demands a film must have an identifiably LGBTQI character who isn’t “solely or predominantly” defined by their LGBTQI identity and who plays a significant role in the film.
Since the start of 2017, there have been a handful of lame LGBTQI depictions that either barely pass that test or fail it completely. It has to be said that some appear to continue the current trend for queerbaiting an audience – where a filmmaker or writer proudly suggests that one of their lead characters is totally LGBTQI for some extra publicity while on their press tour of the film.
And when the film is finally released? Little or no evidence of the character’s sexual or gender identity worth getting excited about. Here’s seven of the lamest LGBTQI depictions from 2017 and 2018 so far.
LeFou: Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Fans of the Disney classic animation had long speculated that LeFou was one of many secretly queer characters hidden among the hetero stories of the studio. So the LGBTQI community was understandably excited to hear that Josh Gad’s live-action portrayal of the character would be openly and undeniably gay.
However, the resulting character left little to be desired, offering the bare minimum of gay representation with a brief scene of LeFou shown dancing with a dude. Slate further suggested the depiction was actually “counterproductive,” and opined, “LeFou is the comic relief for much of his screen time, and it feels as if (Bill) Condon treats his gayness as a punchline.”
Deadpool: Deadpool (2016 & 2018)
Portrayed as being undeniably pansexual in the comics, the movie adaptation of the Merc with a Mouth has so far failed to completely deliver upon the same LGBTQI representation of the superhero’s sexuality.
Despite Ryan Reynolds (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) suggesting he wants Wade to have a boyfriend in a Deadpool movie and the suggestion from writer Rhett Reese (Zombieland) that the character’s pansexuality would be honored in Deadpool 2, the only time his sexuality is made apparent is in the occasional loaded one-liner. Still, at least Deadpool 2 has managed to debut the first LGBTQI superheroes in film even if Deadpool isn’t quite one of them yet.
The married couple in Alien: Covenant (2017)
Aside from a scene in which Michael Fassbender’s humanoid robot smooches another version of himself and talks about “fingering” a flute, Alien: Covenant offered disappointing LGBTQI representation for a movie supposedly championing it. The film features a gay married couple (Demián Bichir & Nathaniel Dean) as one of two of the poor bastard volunteers doomed for death, but they’re barely essential to the story and their relationship is likewise barely consummated or made clear on screen.
Would some hand-holding or soothing smooches have gone amiss in this alien hell? Apparently so. Their depiction in the film is even more disheartening when you consider a short film released prior to it clearly gave the romance of the couple as much on screen validity as their hetero counterparts.
Dumbledore: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)
The movie isn’t released until later this year but it’s already caused a stink with fans after director David Yates (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) announced that queer off-screen character Dumbledore (Jude Law) won’t be “explicitly gay” in the upcoming film. However, presumably every straight character will definitely be “explicitly hetero”.
Lando Calrissian: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Trailers from this Star Wars prequel had fans chatting up a storm over what they considered to be some flirty banter between Lando (Donald Glover) and Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and an apparent legit attraction between Lando and his droid co-pilot L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge).
Solo co-writer Jonathan Kasdan (In the Land of Women) confirmed in an interview with HuffPost that Lando is indeed pansexual, but suggested he’s already aware of the shortcomings of the film’s depiction. “I would have loved to have gotten a more explicitly LGBT character into this movie.” According to early reviews of the film, Lando’s pansexuality is (surprise!) not something fans will be seeing blatantly expressed on screen.
Valkyrie: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Criticized in GLAAD’s Studio Responsibility Index report for cutting the only scene spotlighting the bisexuality of Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Thor: Ragnarok was left with little more than a brief flashback hinting at the possibility she’s romantically involved with another female warrior. As GLAAD recommended in the report, “If Valkyrie appears in the upcoming final Avengers movie, her bisexuality should actually be represented on screen rather than left to subtext that is only caught by those looking for it.”
Wonder Woman / Diana Prince: Wonder Woman (2017)
Considering she comes from a matriarchal island full of fantastic, strong, and beautiful women, it would have been nice to see any hint that Diana (Gal Gadot) has been legit enjoying pussy on tap all this time.
Instead, she enjoyed a boring romance with some dude (Chris Pine) and didn’t give any suggestion she also loves the ladies. The character is canonically bisexual in the comics and fans have been petitioning for her to be bisexual in the sequel. Time will tell whether Warner Bros. actually has the guts to lead with such a storyline in their forthcoming superhero movie.