- A lot of films feature LGBTQ themes and characters, but for every “Call Me By Your Name” and “Brokeback Mountain,” there is a movie like “Boat Trip.”
- Some movies like “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” present LGBTQ people as the butt of the joke.
- Others include LGBTQ characters but either crudely mock them, like in “Zoolander 2,” or relegate them to supporting, shallow roles like the gay best friend, such as “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”
- Even LGBTQ movies by gay directors get it wrong sometimes, as “Stonewall” whitewashed the Stonewall Riots by presenting a white twink as the hero instead of the people of colour and trans women who were the real heroes behind the riots.
- Here are nine movies that got their LGBTQ representation completely wrong.
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‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ (1994)
“Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” helped to make Jim Carrey the star he is now, with the film displaying his signature zany comedic style. But the movie has recently been labelled as transphobic, and for good reason.
In the movie, Carrey’s Ventura kisses Lois Einhorn, who later turns out to be Ray Finkle – revealing Lois as a trans woman. After Ventura learns of this revelation, he heads to the bathroom and retches continuously.
This scene is so renowned for its obvious and cringe-worthy transphobia that even Jake Peralta from “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” comments in a 2016 episode: “Classic film, one of my childhood favourites, and it only gets overtly transphobic at the very end, so, a win.”
Carrey himself did actually comment on this scene, and said that he wanted his whole character to be “unreal and over the top.”
“When it came time to do my reaction to kissing a man, I wanted it to be the biggest, most obnoxious, homophobic reaction ever recorded. It’s so ridiculous it can’t be taken seriously – even though it guarantees that somebody’s going to be offended.”
“Clueless” is something of a cult classic nowadays, with the movie still loved by many fans around the world.
But, despite the fact that it is generally a much-beloved film, there is something to pick at. The character of Christian, who Alicia Silverstone’s Cher initially tries to woo, is packed full of the most gay cliches the writers could come up with.
Christian loves shopping, fashion, art, and old movies like “Some Like It Hot,” all of which are deemed obvious homosexual tendencies by Cher’s friends. While the inclusion of a prominent gay character is great, it would have been better had said gay character not been entrenched in and defined by the usual stereotypes about gay men.
This depiction is made worse because so many other films and TV shows of the same era used those tropes and clichés, too, meaning that they became worn, tiresome, and unimaginative pretty quickly.
‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ (1997)
“My Best Friend’s Wedding” is another movie deemed a classic by many, and again sums up 90s cinema pretty well in this Julia Roberts rom-com.
There is much to be admired here, and Rupert Everett as the gay best friend was a step forward in on-screen representation at the time. However, that on-screen representation should have been better than simply resigning Everett to the “gay best friend” moniker, which is all his character really is.
Everett’s George is a sexless, celibate gay man whose single purpose is to serve as Julianne’s (Roberts) source of advice. He has no agency of his own, and is written as a plot point for Julianne.
It seems like the sort of character who is deemed gay entirely so the movie can call itself diverse without ever actually putting in the effort to explore said character or give the him the depth Everett’s talents deserve.
‘Boat Trip’ (2002)
Cuba Gooding Jr. won an Oscar for 1996’s “Jerry Maguire,” so it’s really quite bizarre that he would agree to star in this titanic failure of a film six years later (something 2005 Oscars host Chris Rock actually joked about).
In this movie, one of the worst offenders on the list, two friends decide to take a cruise in hopes of hooking up with women, but end up on a gay cruise after offending two gay travel agents.
What follows is a feature film that presents every gay character as hypersexualized clichés, and uses homosexuality as a punchline in every other line of dialogue. It’s the sort of movie that uses straight men’s fear of homosexuality for jokes, but uses gay characters as its punch bag rather than straight men’s ridiculous attitudes.
“Gigli” actually beat the previous films to several Razzie Awards – worst picture, worst director, and worst actor (Ben Affleck beat Gooding Jr to “win” this award) amongst the Razzies it “won.”
“Gigli” features Jennifer Lopez as a lesbian, while Ben Affleck plays the man trying to seduce her. The entire film pushes the message that a gay person is only gay until they find the right partner of the opposite sex to “fix” them. It’s a damaging and, frankly, weird message to send.
‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’ (2007)
This may be the worst movie on this list, which only proves how dismal this Adam Sandler comedy is. Curiously, the movie was co-written by Oscar-winning film director Alexander Payne, who helmed “The Descendants” and “Sideways.”
However, Payne himself was so disillusioned with what the final film turned out to be that he actually wanted his name to be taken off of it. Payne told The Telegraph in 2012: “I was quite proud of that screenplay, then they… Sandlerised it.”
Payne’s script, which he co-wrote with regular collaborator Jim Taylor, was supposedly a more serious, sensitive tale. What we got was a broad, brash, immature comedy. The story follows two straight firemen who pretend to be a gay couple in order to get domestic partner benefits.
The movie then continuously makes crass joke after crass joke about how horrible it is for straight men to pretend to be gay, and any sort of message about gay rights gets thoroughly lost in the crassness of it all.
“Bruno,” like Borat, is a mockumentary that purposefully depicts stereotypes in order to reveal the prejudice attitudes of the real-life people its colourful main character interacts with.
However, it never feels we, LGBTQ people, are in on the joke. Instead, it just feels like we are being made fun of, and gay people once again are made the butt of the joke.
The problem is, this is a comedy made entirely for and catering to straight audiences rather than the LGBTQ audiences it should have been tailored for. It prioritises the laughs of straight people over the entire LGBTQ community.
I was surprised to find out that “Independence Day” and “Godzilla” director Roland Emmerich was the man behind this film. But then it kind of made sense once I actually saw the movie.
It tries to cater to mainstream audiences so much that it completely rewrites and whitewashes history. The people predominantly involved in the Stonewall Riots were trans women, drag queens, sex workers, and people of colour, including Marsha P. Johnson.
Instead, this diverse collection of people are relegated to supporting roles, and the movie instead presents Jeremy Irvine’s good-looking, white, twink as the hero of Stonewall.
Emmerich responded to the controversy at the time, telling BuzzFeed News: “I didn’t make this movie only for gay people, I made it also for straight people… As a director, you have to put yourself in your movies, and I’m white and gay.”
Emmerich clearly didn’t concern himself too much with acknowledging the part that people of colour, trans women, drag queens, and sex workers played in the Stonewall Riots, and it shows on screen.
‘Zoolander 2’ (2016)
“Zoolander 2” sought to make the most of the increase in people who identified as non-binary, and included a non-binary model in the sequel movie. However, what was a good opportunity to represent a non-binary person in one of the biggest movies of the year was turned into one big gag.
The character, crassly named All, was played by Benedict Cumberbatch and used a joke in which the main characters ask All if they “have a hot dog or a bun.”
A petition was actually made to boycott this movie, with 25,000 people signing. The petition read: “Cumberbatch’s character is clearly portrayed as an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals. This is the modern equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority.”
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