Disney-Pixar's Onward is a cute film. Truly!
Released just last week, the movie tells the tale of a young elf that group up without a father. On his 16th birthday, his mother reveals to him that his father has left him a gift: a spell that will bring him back to life for 24 hours. The spell goes awry and the teen, and his other brother, set off to fix it before the 24 hours are up and they lose out on their chance forever. Having seen the feature in theaters, it truly is the cutest thing. But its also meant to be historic.
Disney and Pixar have a ... distant relationship with queerness. For years, they did queer coding, then they moved into a period of working in queer characters in the background — you know, the bar is the floor type of stuff. Onward was supposed to represent a change, presenting the first self-identified queer, speaking role in a Disney-Pixar film. Enter: Officer Specter.
Officer Specter's role is menial, forgettable even. Though earlier reports said that it was important to the emotional arc of the story, that seems like an overstatement. And her queerness is another one of those "blink and you miss it" moments. In the middle of a conversation Lena Waithe, who Is the voice actor for the animated character, refers to her girlfriend and the girlfriend's daughter. And then they move on. The moment is o small and insignificant that in Russia, distributors are able to edit it out.
But it still proved too much for four countries. According to Deadline, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have all banned the film. While that shows, no doubt, how homophobic and intolerant these countries are, it also shows how drastically different countries are, and how things that in America we consider to be below the bare minimum, are truly radical elsewhere.