If I had a genie that could grant me three wishes, one of the things I would wish for is that our society would stop making every decision by every individual or entity political. That may sound like a strange wish, but I have seen that as we do that, our opinions and views are often fueled by anger, bias, and lack of information. We often forget to be empathetic, and we instead have an us vs. them, or victim vs. villain mentality.
It happens all the time, even in movies. It’s happening right now with the new Pixar children’s film Lightyear that came out in theaters on June 17, 2022. I am seeing so many angry articles about the “woke liberal agenda” and how Tim Allen has been so wronged by not being cast. I’m seeing people unkindly express satisfaction that the movie isn’t making as much money as expected, and assume the movie has “tanked” due to the same-sex kiss in it.
Now, I have been trying for several years to fight the desire to have knee jerk reactions. It still happens sometimes, but I really do strive to search for unbiased truth as well as search inwardly for empathy as I put myself in other people’s shoes.
When I first heard about this controversy over a short kiss by a same-sex married couple in the film, my initial reaction was that the media hypes everything up into a controversy that it can, and thus can’t be taken at face value. I also shared my thoughts that Disney choosing to represent other types of couples tastefully in their films is completely understandable. I also said that there was likely a good reason for Tim Allen not being cast as Buzz rather than it being political differences with Disney.
After the initial conversation about the movie, I looked on IMDB, Common Sense Media, and Kids in Mind, which are all sites I visit to help me decide which movies and shows I will watch, and let my kids watch. I was curious what these sites had to say. It was really interesting to me that not one of these platforms showed any concern over the same-sex kiss. IMDB’s parent guide doesn’t even mention it. Kids in Mind does mention it but rated the movie at a 1 for Sex/Nudity (meaning very mild). Common Sense Media does its own ratings, as well as parent and child reviews. It rated its Sex/Romance/Nudity topic as mild and recommended the movie for ages 6 and up. Kids and parents who rated the movie gave it four stars and the overall age recommendation was 8-9. Speaking of star ratings, I checked Rotten Tomatoes and the critics and audience overall love the film as well. It would seem that Lightyear is a well-done movie that’s worth all the years of effort by many talented individuals.
Another interesting thing to me is that I haven’t seen one friend on my Facebook news feed talk about seeing the movie and being disgusted by it – not one. Curious, I did a search on Facebook today on the movie and saw article after article how Tim Allen was snubbed because he’s a conservative and how the kiss somehow was the most horrible decision Disney has ever made. Anytime I saw a post from a parent who took his/her children to the movie, though, I read nothing but positive reviews at how amazing it was. I didn’t see one post from an actual person that said the movie made them or their children uncomfortable. That’s not what the media is saying. Interesting…
I also took the time to research why Tim Allen was not chosen to voice the part of Buzz in the movie. I will be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled he wasn’t cast – I mean, his voice is iconic! But, after I read the reasoning behind it from the actual director’s mouth, it made sense. Here is the actual reason why Tim Allen was not cast, and it makes perfect sense to me.
Director Angus MacLane told Vanity Fair, “Tim’s version of Buzz is a little goofier and is a little dumber, and so he is the comic relief. In this film, Buzz is the action hero. He’s serious and ambitious and funny, but not in a goofy way that would undercut the drama. Chris Evans has the gravitas and that movie-star quality that our character needed to separate him and the movie from Tim’s version of the toy in Toy Story.”Chris Evans on Lightyear’s Same-Sex Kiss and Trying to Sound Like Tim Allen | Vanity Fair
As far as the allegation that Disney has canceled Tim Allen, the reality is that he’s filming a whole show based on the movie “The Santa Clause.” He is still very much involved with Disney, and he has not provided any negative comments on Disney choosing another actor for Lightyear either.
Now as for this infamous kiss, it’s just Disney being overly political, right? Actually, the producer of Lightyear, Galyn Susman, said this: “It’s important to show all of the wonderful people that are around us and represent everybody, including same-sex couples, in our film. Representation is huge for us, and we want to make connections with as many people as possible. Alisha and her wife have a relationship that lasts an entire lifetime. We don’t have enough movies that show relationships that last an entire life, and that’s aspirational.”Chris Evans on Lightyear’s Same-Sex Kiss and Trying to Sound Like Tim Allen | Vanity Fair
Uzo Aduba, the actress that played the character Alisha, said this: “It’s incredible, and a real hats off to Disney and Pixar for having that kiss be a part of this story. The kiss is a greeting and a gesture of love that is tender. It does establish who they are as people, but it is not the singular identifier for who either of them are. Seeing a loving gay couple in a meaningful way is important for everybody.”Chris Evans on Lightyear’s Same-Sex Kiss and Trying to Sound Like Tim Allen | Vanity Fair
These statements are based in love and inclusiveness and are particularly poignant when you consider how few happy parental/marital relationships there are in Disney films.
Interestingly the kiss had initially been removed from the movie but was added back in after LGBTQ+ Pixar employees wrote a letter expressing dismay that Disney nearly always keeps same-sex affection out of their films. So, it sounds to me that Disney is not “woke” like it is being described. It sounds like the opposite, but it is working towards healthy compromise. And PS, can we stop using derogatory terms when describing different viewpoints? It’s kind of rude.
This background information and research is helpful to me, and hopefully to you, but it’s not all that I feel that I need to say.
I am a devout Christian (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and along with my husband, strive to be the absolute best parent I can and to raise my children to be good, righteous people. I want them to be better than I am and to treat people better than I did growing up.
As I have been pondering over this Disney Pixar controversy, my heart is heavy. I have to wonder why so often we forget the humanity of others and only care about our own existence and our own perspectives.
Anytime I take a stance on anything, I ponder a lot about my own beliefs and what Jesus would want me to think, feel, say, or do. I have found that in many cases, Christians think so much about what they feel is right and wrong, they forget to treat others, speak to others, and show love to others the way Jesus emulated every day of His mortal life.
When people get this riled up about a simple, quick same-sex kiss in a montage of a lifetime of devotion and love, what are they angry about? What are they afraid of? What are they trying to protect their kids from?
I have seen people make comments on these politically charged articles saying that anything of a sexual nature does not belong in a children’s movie. What do those people mean by that? If they really mean what they say, then all romantic kisses and other forms of romantic affection should be removed from all children’s movies if the kiss in this instance is considered sexual. But that isn’t really what they mean, is it?
I was thinking about all the Disney movies I grew up watching to see which ones actually do include sexuality beyond tender and simple romantic kisses. One of them sticks out to me the most. It’s rated G and it came out in 1996. It is a movie I have never let my kids watch even though I did. Of a sexual nature it includes:
- A woman dancing sensually in real life as well as in the lustful thoughts of a man as he sings.
- A man touching and sniffing the hair of a woman without her consent.
- An entire song about raging lust comparable to a burning fire.
- A man threatening a woman with death if she does not succumb to him sexually.
THAT is sexuality. And that is the only time I have seen it in a Disney/Pixar film to a point that I wouldn’t want my kids to watch it. That movie is “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” You can literally feel Frollo’s lust permeating out of him over and over again. I think it’s wrong to market a film to all audiences that includes all of those things in addition to murder, abuse, attempted murder and more.
So many Disney movies are full of immoral and evil things and yet nobody bats an eye because they are children’s movies that teach good lessons in the end. That’s good enough, right?
But, then a few years ago the media started a controversy about a “gay moment” in the new Beauty and the Beast live action film. So many Christian people boycotted that film. Well, Jad and I decided to see it first and see how we felt. There was nothing in that movie that made us uncomfortable at all. There were a couple silly moments that encompassed the supposed “gay moment,” but the movie was an absolute masterpiece and our whole family loves it. We have watched it many times.
The same thing happened again when Cruella came out. There was an outcry because one of the main characters was gay. Cruella is PG13, so not a kids’ movie, but regardless of rating, the character had no romantic relationship and there was no mention of his sexuality. He just owned a fashion boutique and loved making clothes, which if that makes him gay, that’s actually an insensitive stereotype, but anyway…
And now we have Lightyear.
My question for everyone who is boycotting Disney over this: why does it bother you?
Is it because you don’t want children to know that there are different types of couples in this world, or you just don’t want them learning it from a movie? They will find out there are same-sex couples in this world because they will see it at school, at the park, at stores, etc. That is out of your control. What is in your control is how you teach your children about same-sex attraction and marriage. You could teach your kids to ostracize and be disgusted by same-sex couples, and thus the children of those same-sex couples. Perhaps the more Christlike option, though, is to sit down with your children and explain to them that God created and loves all of His children. Though most of the time, a man and a woman will fall in love and get married, some of God’s children love people of the same sex and they marry each other. He loves them just as much as He loves the rest of us (and you can go from there if you see fit).
I wish that I had had that conversation as a child. I am pained at how I must have hurt the two different teenage boys who confided in me in high school that they were gay and I scoffed and said that nobody is actually gay. All the times I said, “That’s so gay,” or said other insensitive things because it was taboo at the time to talk about the fact that not everybody in this world is heterosexual makes me feel so ashamed.
Parents don’t usually raise their kids thinking that they will be LGBTQ+, but it happens a lot more than we think. My own beloved brother, one of the most fantastic and wonderful people I have ever known, is a part of this community. Because of that, I have always been sensitive to the possibility that one of my children, nieces or nephews, or friends of my children may also be a part of that community. I would never want anyone to feel scared of sharing who they are with me because of how I talk about or treat LGBTQ+ individuals.
I must ask, what are we saying to the LGBTQ+ community when we are outraged over a very short kiss of tenderness from a loving married couple that just happens to be same sex? It sounds like we are saying that even though same-sex marriage is legal, we are disgusted by it and thus by the people engaged in it. We are saying we do not want our kids to be around or befriend same-sex people, their spouses, or their children. We are saying we want to protect our children – hide our children, from an unnatural way of life. We are saying that our comfort level in watching a movie is more important than the equal treatment and representation of other populations. Mostly we are saying we do not see members of the LGBTQ+ community as human beings and beloved children of God who have feelings, needs, and struggles just like we do. Whether we think we are saying these things or not, we are.
Maybe those of you who are upset and angry about this movie haven’t considered how your reaction would hurt others. Maybe you also haven’t thought about the good that can come from this movie for LGBTQ+ families.
Imagine if you were the child of a same-sex couple and you never saw two moms or two dads represented in a show or film. How would you feel? I imagine I would feel sad and hurt. Imagine if you were in a same-sex relationship of loyalty and love and people thought that only a mother and a father, or a single parent, or no parent is acceptable for a children’s film. Imagine realizing that people are more comfortable with abusive, kidnapping, or murderous parents/stepparents than a relationship like yours in a children’s film. That would be really hurtful.
But then imagine if for the first time in a Disney movie there was a clip, a really short one, but a clip nonetheless, of the beauty, love, devotion, and loyalty that can come from a same-sex marriage. Might you feel like you have been seen, been heard, been appreciated? (If you don’t think that this can exist, I would implore you to get to know a same-sex couple and open your heart to them and their experiences.)
I completely understand that many people’s religious beliefs do not align with the idea of same-sex marriage, but those same people’s religious beliefs also should not align with persecuting, ostracizing or judging those who are in those relationships. In this country we believe that all people are created equal and that we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s not just for those who think or live the same way we do.
As a Christian, I do not feel the Holy Ghost with me when I am fueled by anger, resentment, judgment, fear, or any other negative emotion. I do feel His presence, though, when I am fueled by love, compassion, empathy, and a desire to listen and understand. Thus, I cannot listen to the voices who tell me that I need to be outraged, that I need to be against something that would hurt other human beings with the same God-given rights and privileges as I have.
I wrote this to hopefully inspire others to see another perspective and take this movie as an opportunity to teach your kids about same-sex attraction in a loving and compassionate way. That is the good that can come from it. Don’t let the screaming media take you away from who and what matters. The love we have for each other as children of God should always be at the forefront. We are infinitely more the same than we could ever be different.
I will leave you with words from Elder Dale G Renlund, a man of God and apostle of Christ:
“Jesus Christ exemplified what it means to do justly and to love mercy. He freely associated with sinners, treating them honorably and with respect. He taught the joy of keeping God’s commandments and sought to lift rather than condemn those who struggled. He did denounce those who faulted Him for ministering to people they deemed unworthy. Such self-righteousness offended Him and still does. (See Luke 15:1-2)
“To be Christlike, a person does justly, behaving honorably with both God and other people. A just person is civil in words and action and recognizes that differences in outlook or belief do not preclude genuine kindness and friendship. Individuals who do justly ‘will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably’ (Mosiah 4:13) one with another.
“To be Christlike, a person loves mercy. People who love mercy are not judgmental; they manifest compassion for others, especially for those who are less fortunate; they are gracious, kind, and honorable. These individuals treat everyone with love and understanding, regardless of characteristics such as race, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and tribal, clan, or national differences. These are superseded by Christlike love.”Do Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with God (churchofjesuschrist.org)
If you like this post, you may also like this one I wrote last year: Another Take on “God Doesn’t Make Mistakes” | Making Life a Bliss Complete
Please like and share this post if you feel inspired to do so. Much love to all!