Disney Faces Backlash for Casting a Straight Actor in a Possibly Stereotypical Gay Role in “Jungle Cruise”
While the Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt starrer Jungle Cruise was off to a good start with creating hype, Disney ended up receiving backlash when it was reported the studio has cast Jack Whitehall, a straight actor, to play a (possibly) stereotypical gay character in a major film!
Originally reported by The Sun, the optics of such a decision aren’t nice. Not only didn’t Disney decide to hire an out queer actor to play the role, but the role itself (the gay guy is the brother of Blunt’s character) is problematic because of being described as “hugely effete, very camp and very funny.”
Because that’s exactly what was missing from Hollywood, more stereotypical queer characters. Sigh!
I can’t understand how no one told the studio this situation wasn’t going to go well with everyone, especially members of the LGBTQ+ community. Hollywood wants all the praise but gets upset when people call out the problematic representation it continues to offer. Times have changed and the LGBTQ+ community deserves better than queer caricatures, used as jokes, or being the victims.
Also, for those of you who think actors should be able to play any role, can you all just stop with this argument? It holds no ground, especially when dealing with roles representing minorities. Yes, straight actors have been portraying queer characters for ages, but it needs to stop until the playing field has been leveled. Also, you not having an issue with such as casting choice even though you are from the queer community doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t an issue which other members of the community want addressed.
Furthermore, the argument about Jungle Cruise going with Jack Whitehall because he was the best choice… yeah no! Don’t tell me a major studio like Disney (which was able to do an amazing casting job for Black Panther, Alladin, and Mulan) wasn’t able to find a single openly queer actor to portray one onscreen!
Ws Jonathan Groff unavailable for #JungleCruise? You know, someone from the community to actually represent the community on the big screen. Disney can’t go around praising itself for supporting the queer community in a major film wdout allowing them to actually be a part of it!
— A.J Raven (@tempest071990) August 13, 2018
I’m not saying Jack Whitehall isn’t talented. He is. What I refuse to believe is that there aren’t any openly queer actors out there who weren’t suitable for this part. I’m also not saying a straight actor can’t take on a gay role. It’s just that considering Whitehall’s role is supposed to be a major step in queer representation, going for a queer actor makes for a better choice in this case.
Again, all of these things might not matter in a perfect world, but we don’t live in such a world yet and thus, they matter to a lot of people. As I’ve mentioned, the Hollywood playing field isn’t fair to minorities.
Also, do take a few minutes and watch the video below by Grace Randolph. She does a very good job of explaining why casting a straight actor for such a role is problematic on a couple of levels and how it might end up harming the LGBTQ+ community down the line.
I am already disappointed about how Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe has been representing queer characters and now we have this stupidity. One would think Disney would have learned something after LeFou and the backlash other content receives.
The queer community has always refused to stay quiet and their voice has only grown louder. It’s high time studios get their acts together.
I’m interested to see how Disney decides to handle this situation. Will the studio recast? Will they change the character’s personality?
Here’s to hoping Jack Whitehall doesn’t decide to do a fake coming out announcement as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community to lighten some of this backlash. Ha!
What do you think of Jack Whitehall playing a gay stereotype in Jungle Cruise? Let us know.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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