JUNGLE CRUISE Could Be Disney’s First Movie to Feature Openly Gay Character
By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer
In October 2019, Disney plans to release JUNGLE CRUISE in theaters nationwide. The movie takes place in the 19th Century and is based on the theme park ride that Walt Disney created for Disneyland stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. Now, it’s being reported that the story will have the first openly gay character to be featured in a Disney movie.
Jack Whitehall will play this unnamed character. Whitehall, a British comedian, is most popular for his TV roles on BOUNTY HUNTERS, BAD EDUCATION and TRAVELS WITH MY FATHER. If you haven’t seen him in anything yet, this November, THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS features Whitehall as a Harlequin.
Disney has not confirmed that Whitehall’s character is gay, but a source close to Whitehall revealed the detail to The Sun, adding that the character is “hugely effete.”
While some may praise Disney’s increased shift, ironically, the studio is actually receiving a fair amount of criticism from the left for not casting a gay actor in a role like this.
@ejunkie2014 tweeted, “I’m not saying straight people shouldn’t be allowed to play gay people, but Disney should have known there would be backlash to Jack Whitehall in JUNGLE CRUISE. The first openly gay character in a Disney film? Wasted opportunity to be truly historic.”
Like @ejunkie2014 many members of the LGBT community are claiming that Disney’s decision to cast Whitehall is stereotyping the gay community.
@OmarSharifJr tweeted, “Really @Disney #JungleCruise? Your first significant gay role will be played by a straight white man perpetuating stereotypes? Fail! This ship should sink.”
It’s not surprising that more LGBT content is infiltrating Disney movies. Last year’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST generated controversy and had audiences debating the issue far and wide. While there was much hype about the “exclusively gay moment,” it proved barely noticeable.
On the TV front, Disney has been much bolder. Disney Channel’s GOOD LUCK CHARLIE marked the first Disney sitcom to showcase lesbian parents. Since then, DOC MCSTUFFINS, the animated Disney series, showcased another pair of lesbian parents, and ANDI MACK featured a boy discovering he has a crush on a classmate.
It’s important to note that Disney has yet to release a formal confirmation of this news. Meanwhile, keep checking Movieguide® for more updates on JUNGLE CRUISE, and of course, our full review next October.
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