Disney’s Lightyear has been banned in some Middle Eastern and Asian countries before its official release. It is hitting the cinema halls this week but 14 nations have opted to not screen it. The reason for this controversy is the film’s representation of the LBTQ community. The film includes scenes of kissing between two same-sex characters which prompted these countries to not open the animated film.
Disney’s Lightyear Violates Media Content Standards
United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the first to announce on Twitter that Disney’s Lightyear was not licensed to play in all cinemas in UAE due to its violation of “media content standards”. The post did not specify which standards it violated but later it became clear that it was due to a gay kiss. Homosexuality is a criminal offense in UAE and several Muslim majority countries.
Following UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Kuwait also decided not to screen the movie. However, none of the country’s representatives have publicly explained the reason behind the bans.
The film is the fourth installment in the Toy Story franchise which produced 3 movies on the beloved toy characters that included a cowboy, a space ranger, a funny dinosaur, a very flexible dog, and a piggy bank. It will serve as a prequel to the original 1995 Toy Story focusing on the adventures of the space ranger Buzz Lightyear on which the popular toy was based.
Disney’s Lightyear includes a scene where a character named Alicia Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba) kisses her female partner. It raised some concerns which led the studio to cut the scene. However, after Disney and Pixar’s LGBT employees protested the decision, the studio reinstated it. The employees reportedly submitted a memo in which they strongly criticized Disney’s regular omission of same-sex love due to external pressure.
The memo was in response to another controversy involving Disney CEO Bob Chapek. According to reports, he has defended the studio’s decision not to speak out against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans LGBT content discussions in primary school and restricts the discussion of certain LGBT information in older grades. Critics of the bill say it is discriminatory against young LGBTs and children with gay parents. Disney’s silence over the bill led to my demonstrations and walkout by its employees. This ultimately led to the restoration of the same-sex kissing scene in Lightyear.
They are Idiots
Chris Evans, the actor voicing the main character in Disney’s Lightyear, responded to the critics by saying “they are idiots”. He continued that these kinds of objections were “frustrating” considering how the film was part of something that took a step forward in social inclusion capacity.
Evans also criticized the countries banning the film, saying they were not where they “should be”. Several Disney movies have faced a similar fate in the past, especially in Islamic countries. Hollywood celebrities also raised their voice when Eternals was forced to cut the gay kissing scene before release in Middle East.