- Aug 22, 2010
Just had to re-read both of these quotes to make sure neither of you were throwing shade at Professor Ratigan.PsychedelicDiamond said:I guess the most obvious example for Disney's tendency to give their villains stereotypically gay traits is Ratcliffe from Pocahontas:evilthecat said:Here's the thing though. Look at Scar's actually behaviours and mannerisms. Is he "mousy", is he a "geek" (bear in mind that this is 1994, before the mainstreaming of geek culture so being a "geek" had very particular associations).Asita said:Scar is prominent in that regard? He always struck me as the mousy geek to Mufasa's star quarterback (or the Iago to his Othello). What am I missing that made him stand out as queer-coded?
Scar isn't socially awkward, in fact kind of the opposite. He isn't shy. He's always melodramatic. The way he speaks is theatrical and flamboyant, his movements are expressive and exaggerated. He's not outside of conventional masculinity because he's a beta shyguy, he's excessive, he's over-the-top, he's inappropriate. In other words, he's camp.
This basically applies to most Disney villains from the period. Even Frollo, who is basically the only Disney villain I can think of who is motivated by his explicitly sexual lust for a woman, is also pretty camp (not as camp as Scar though). That's because Disney wasn't using this aesthetic to indicate that Scar was secretly a big gay, they were using it to show that he was a bad guy.
But it also made him a fun and likeable character, which is what queer audiences responded to.
I think comparing the 1994 Lion King and the 2019 Lion King is really interesting in terms of Disney's treatment of queerness and its queer audience. 1994 Disney queer-coded Scar because they wanted a villain character with a strong personality, who would be fun and over the top. 2019 Scar lacks any of that likeability, he's just a boring douche who the narrative goes out of its way to aggressively no-homo. Instead, we get WeHo Timon whose overt gayness is 100% intentional (but never actually stated), and who is basically just there as a stand-in for the queer audiences.
Basically, Disney is clearly uncomfortable with how its queer-coding of villain characters might look to a modern audience, but clearly hasn't worked out that "sassy comic relief" or "gay best friend" are far more offensive as stereotypes than "camp villain". A huge amount of queer cinema is the deliberate celebration of camp villains, it can be done in a way that's fun and empowering. What Disney has been doing with its queer characters recently isn't empowering.
He's easy to forget, because Pocahontas is easy to forget, but he illustrates the point pretty well. Those gay traits seem very archaic themselves from a modern perspective but you know, then again, the 90s where a while ago. Regardless of that, when it comes to actually representing the queer population Disney will, sooner or later, have to face the fact that that means actually depicting queer relationships. There's absolutely no point to just stating that a character is gay and maybe having him look at a character of the same gender with a lovesick expression once or twice. Just fucking show a gay relationship. It's not really all that different from depicting a straight relationship. Have husband and husband instead of husband and wife. That's it.
As long as they are incapable of depicting something as innocent as a healthy relationship out of fear of alienating people either at home or abroad it's reasonable to assume that they have absolutely zero interest in representing that part of the population. That whole "LeFou is gay, Lando Calrissian is pansexual, there's a guy talking about having had a date with a men in a self help group" shit is just... nothing. It's meaningless. It's not representation, it's just vague acknowledgement. Healthy representation is when gay love isn't depicted any differently from straight love.