TV News

Disney+ Removes Queer Romance Because It Isn't "Family-friendly"

The show's so-called 'adult themes'—such as alcohol use and sexual exploration—proliferate on Disney+ in movies and TV with the same rating. The only difference is a queer protagonist.

It seems that Disney still has mixed feelings about gay people.

It's not surprising considering Walt Disney's history. From being founded by a man who, at the very least, reflected his generation's prejudiced attitudes against women, Jews, and homosexuals to allegedly firing their non-heterosexual stars and filling a vault with twentieth century racist cartoons, Disney has a lot of problematic history to atone for before it can be deemed "progressive."

At least all Disney did this week was announce that its queer teen romance TV series, Love, Victor, has been moved from Disney+ to Hulu (also DIsney-owned) after it was deemed not "family-friendly" enough for the original platform. Ricky Strauss, head of content and marketing at Disney+, said in a press release, "All of us at Disney+ are incredibly proud of Love, Victor and know the series will be a perfect addition to Hulu's strong slate of young adult programming." But as Variety reported, "Sources also note that Disney felt many issues explored on the show, including alcohol use and sexual exploration, would not fit in with the family-friendly content on Disney Plus."

Love, Victor is a spinoff series from the 2018 film Love, Simon, which was lauded as the first major Hollywood studio film to feature a gay teenage romance. The PG-13 film doesn't take too many risks, and was mostly rated for its language (including homophobic slurs) and some discussion of sexual acts (like "how slippery everything gets"), plus an award-winning kiss between a same-sex couple. By all accounts, Love, Victor is slated to be the same. According to the synopsis, the series introduces a new star on a "journey of self-discovery, facing challenges at home, adjusting to a new city, and struggling with his sexual orientation."

As netizens soon pointed out, the show's so-called "adult themes"—such as alcohol use and sexual exploration—proliferate on Disney+ in movies and TV shows with the same rating. The teen movie 10 Things I Hate About You, for instance, features heavy underage drinking and gaudy sex jokes. The Mandalorian depicts explicit violence. Also, The Simpsons airs on Disney+, despite never having been deemed "family-friendly" on account of being The Simpsons.

The only difference is that those productions don't feature a queer protagonist.

Amidst Twitter backlash against Disney's inconsistent ideas about what constitutes "family-friendly" content, Becky Albertalli, the author of the book on which Love, Simon is based, defended the corporation. "There's been speculation as for the cause of the platform switch. For what it's worth, it's not based on the show featuring a gay teen love story," she posted. "Disney knew what it was when they got it. There are mature themes such as teen drinking, etc. that led to the switch."

She added, "That said, I completely get why many of us are wary of phrases like 'mature content' and 'adult themes.' They're so often used as homophobic dog whistles, and these concerns are so valid."


While media representation of LGBTQIA+ characters has slowly been expanding in recent years, that progress has come in the form of sidekicks and background characters. Disney-Pixar animation is being lauded for including its first openly gay character in Onward, a feature about two teenage brothers voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt. Lena Waithe will voice Officer Specter, a lesbian character who will...also be in the movie for probably a few scenes. Meanwhile, on TV there are still few series that include queer characters, let alone one whose star is grappling with his non-heterosexuality.

As Quartz's Adam Epstein wrote, "So perhaps what Disney really means by 'family-friendly' is not content that simply resonates with families, but rather content that asks nothing of them, content that will not turn away its most narrow-minded viewers…" Sadly, as "the world's most dominant purveyor of culture," Disney is one of the last corporations willing to take a major step forward, as they've shown that inclusivity and diversity are afterthoughts to the bottom line.

MUSIC

Songs About Loss for Día de los Muertos

These songs transcend lifetimes.

Día de los Muertos is about remembering the dead, celebrating their lives, and acknowledging the pain of losing loved ones.

It's a sacred day in Mexico and parts of South America, and it's very much not Halloween.

For Day of the Dead, we've compiled a selection of traditional and contemporary Mexican folk songs meant to honor the holiday, as well as everyone who has made the passage over to the other side.

You might know the last one, "Remember Me," from the film Coco, but Day of the Dead has inspired countless traditional songs, poems, and brilliant works of art. Ultimately, attendees at typical Day of the Dead celebrations will often play the kind of music that their departed loved ones enjoyed, so if you're looking to honor departed loved ones on this day, you might just want to spin their favorite tunes. That said, the Mexican folk music tradition is rich in tradition and sublime in sound, and some of these songs are too gorgeous not to share.

Remember, though, if you're not part of the culture that celebrates this holiday, be careful if, when, and how you decide to partake in this day. Make sure you're not appropriating these cultures, avoid wearing costumes, do some research on the holiday and its meaning and sacredness, and support Mexican artists and causes.

1. La Llorona

This folk song's origins are wrapped in obscurity, but it is known that the song originated a long time ago in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In 1941, the composer Andres Henestrosa popularized the song. There are numerous modern versions, with everyone from Chavela Vargas to Lila Jones lending their voices and finger-picking skills to the track.

The tune's lyrics are said to come from the original legend of La Llorona, the ghostly "Weeping Woman" of Mexican and South American folklore. Some of the verses were probably written during the Mexican Revolution, and today, it's frequently used to scare children into going to bed. Since it tells the story of a ghost (or a woman who won't allow her lover to leave her, depending on the interpretation), it's a natural fit for Día de los Muertos.

La llorona , Chavela Vargas www.youtube.com

2. La Bruja

Just as La Llorona tells the story of a wicked, ghostly woman, so does La Bruja, which translates loosely to "The Witch." According to legend, La Bruja is a kind of witch that sucks blood like a vampire. Lyrically, like La Llorona, it's also been interpreted as being about a woman who goes out on the hunt for a man, though there are many legends about what its lyrics might be trying to say. Most of the song is from the perspective of someone getting stolen by a witch. Some believe it references the old folk story that witches would dance with candles on their heads, making it look like the candles were floating; others believe it has more ominous implications, but it's really up to the listener.

The song is often used as a children's rhyme, but it's also been gorgeously covered by many artists.

Vincente Chavarria | La Bruja | AEA Sessions www.youtube.com

3. Calaveritas — Ana Tijoux, Celso Piña

This song was released by Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux to honor the dead, specifically those lost during the Pinochet dictatorship. The title, "Calaveritas," means "little skulls," and it's full of loving messages for those whose lives were lost. Recorded with Mexican musician Celso Piña, it's a blend of traditional, folk, and experimental sounds with a powerful message. "We all carry within us / one who died before us / who appears when night falls and the sun goes out," read some of the lyrics. It also includes a quote from a revolutionary named Pierre Dubois who opposed Pinochet during his regime: "It is not enough to say that justice takes time but it arrives. Justice that is not exercised when appropriate is already unfair."

Ana Tijoux - Calaveritas www.youtube.com

4. Amor Eterno

This song was written in 1984 by Mexican singer Juan Gabriel and quickly became the most popular song for funerals in his native country. It's a rich, sad, and nostalgic piece, one that pays tribute to loves of old while acknowledging the pain of loss in the present. It's been covered magnificently by countless artists, but Silvana Estrada's version is incredibly moving in its delicacy and compassion.

Juan Gabriel - Amor Eterno (En Vivo [Desde el Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes]) www.youtube.com


This well-known song has a way of reappearing in times of need. After the shooting in El Paso, Texas this summer, the song became a staple at funerals and memorial services. "How I wish that you still lived that your precious eyes had never closed so that I could see them eternal love unforgettable," go the lyrics, which ensure that there's never a dry eye when this song is played.

5. Remember Me, Coco

This movie beautifully portrayed Día de los Muertos and was tied together by the gorgeous ballad "Remember Me." In the film, the song is capable of crossing the boundary between life and death, forming an everlasting bond that keeps memories alive and inspires new generations to continue old legacies. It perfectly captures the message of Día de los Muertos: Even after our loved ones say goodbye, they're kept alive by memories and in song, and that's something to celebrate.

Carlos Rivera - Recuérdame (De "Coco"/Versión de Carlos Rivera/Official Video) www.youtube.com


Benjamin Bratt - Remember Me (Official Video From "Coco") [Ernesto de la Cruz] www.youtube.com


Latinx heritage month, September 15th to October 15th, is a time to honor the contributions of Latinx Americans to the culture and history of the United States.

To celebrate, check out this list of the best movies and TV shows about the lives of Latinx individuals or starring Latinx individuals.

Coco (2017)

One of the most visually stunning animated movies ever made, Coco follows the story of a young boy named Miguel who wants desperately to be a famous musician despite his family's ban on music. Eventually, he finds himself in the land of the dead, where adventure and self-discovery ensue. It's a beautiful movie about familial ties, Mexican culture, and what it really means to idolize someone.

FILM

Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend of June 21

Revisit old friends and make some new ones in "Toy Story 4."

Disney/Pixar

Welcome back to "Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend."

This week, return to your childhood for the fourth time with Toy Story 4...or Child's Play.

WIDE RELEASE:

Toy Story 4

Toy Story 4 | Official Trailer www.youtube.com

There's never been a Toy Story movie that's anything less than fantastic, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that Toy Story 4 is getting rave reviews, too. Toy Story has the incredible capacity to combine nostalgia with fresh, modern stories that continue growing up alongside the people who watched the first one in theaters as kids. This one looks fun and sad and hopeful, and I can't wait to watch it. This probably goes without saying, but Toy Story 4 is my obvious PICK OF THE WEEK.

Child's Play

CHILD'S PLAY Official Trailer #2 - (2019) www.youtube.com

Even amongst stupid movie slashers, Chucky has always been exceptionally goofy. Then again, that's part of the charm––watching a doll possessed by a serial killer ghost murder people. The new movie is attempting to reboot the franchise, and somehow, they're making the already dumb premise even dumber by making the Chucky doll some sort of media super controller. Why would anyone ever want to buy a spooky doll to control all their electronics? Who would that product be for? Movie victims, that's who. I'm kind of looking forward to it.

Anna

Anna Trailer #1 (2019) | Movieclips Trailers www.youtube.com

It's John Wick BUT FOR LADIES. That's basically how this is being advertised. Assuming that's accurate, assuming this really is a female-lead action franchise with the unprecedented grace and beauty of John Wick, Anna could be amazing. Unfortunately, even the big action scene in the trailer seems to have some unnecessary quick cuts, and the lead's skewed face suggests the use of a stunt double. The review embargo (essentially a ban on reviews being published prior to a given date) worries me, too. My hopes aren't high, but I'd like to be wrong.

LIMITED RELEASE:

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am - Official Trailer www.youtube.com

Toni Morrison is considered one of the greatest living authors in the American literary canon and, perhaps more importantly, one of the most revolutionary black authors in literature. Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am is a documentary that places her and her works within the proper cultural context to fully appreciate her influence. It looks like a powerful work, and if you're a fan of Toni Morrison's writing, it's definitely worth checking out.

Wild Rose

WILD ROSE | OFFICIAL MAIN TRAILER www.youtube.com

Singer/actress Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl) stars as Rose-Lynn Harlan, a Scottish convict and single mother who pursues her dream of becoming a country music star in Nashville. The trailer shows a surprising amount of heart, and reviews seem overwhelmingly positive. Overall, Wild Rose looks really good, so if you're in the mood for a serious, musical drama this weekend, this might be one to watch.

Disney/Pixar

The first teaser trailer for Disney and Pixar's upcoming Toy Story 4 hit the internet on Monday showing off the old crew—Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Rex, Slink, Hamm and Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head—along with a scared-out-of-his-mind new character named "Forky," who is apparently not a toy at all, but a plastic spork with pipe cleaners for arms.

With Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" playing in the background, the teaser plays a bit like an LSD trip, with the characters we know and love spinning around in a circle and looking like they're feeling colors. We think we know how Forky feels— get me the fuck out of this mess.

Even eight years later, the final scene of Disney and Pixar's Toy Story 3 still makes us weep like our childhood puppy just died in a terrible accident. In the perfect send-off, Andy passes on his favorite toys Woody and Buzz Lightyear, along with Jessie, Bullseye, Rex, and the others, to an adorable little girl named Bonnie. It's a fitting end to a trilogy that paralleled the journey its target audience—millennials—were undertaking themselves, growing up and out of our childhood ways and attachments, and ultimately having to say goodbye to our favorite toys as we move on to adulthood.

But of course, nothing gold can stay. Disney announced their intention to release a fourth installment to the Toy Story franchise way back in 2014, and the movie has had a rocky life since, facing multiple release date delays and key staff changes amidst Pixar chief John Lasseter getting #MeToo'd. All we know by way of official synopsis is that the film will follow the intro of new toy Forky to Woody and the gang, and a road trip that "reveals how big the world can be for a toy." I guess three films didn't give any indication of the big, bad world outside of Andy's house.

Toy Story 4 | Teaser Trailer Reaction www.youtube.com


Throwing another strange wrench in the mix, we also have a second teaser/promo trailer that came out Tuesday featuring two new plushy amusement park-prize characters voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele who are allegedly Toy Story fans themselves. Disney has been on the self-referential craze for a while now, starting first with Enchanted in 2007 and most recently taken to its zenith in Ralph Breaks the Internet. We see the trend emphasized here as new characters Ducky and Bunny rave about Woody and Buzz and continually misquote Buzz's famous line "To infinity and beyond." When Buzz and Woody come on screen to correct them, the furry duo exclaim the catchphrase is "the stupidest thing I've ever heard!" Gag me with Forky, please.

"Like most people, I assumed that Toy Story 3 was the end of the story," explains Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley. "And it was the end of Woody's story with Andy. But just like in life, every ending is a new beginning."

Sadly, the reverse is also true: every beginning is an ending. The ending of good humor, good story, and good taste.


Joshua Smalley is a New York-based writer, editor, and playwright. Find Josh at his website and on Twitter: @smalleywrites.


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It may have taken fourteen years for this sequel but good things are worth a bit of a delay.

In Popdust's column, Box Office Breakdown, we aim to inform you of the top flicks to check out every weekend depending on what you're in the mood to enjoy. Looking to laugh? What about having your pants scared off? Maybe you just need a little love? Whatever the case may be, we have you covered. Take a peek at our top picks for this week…

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