My three-year-old daughter loves watching Disney/Pixar’s Luca more than Adrienne, Willow and Jada Pinkett-Smith enjoy a topical conversation around a red table. I liked the movie very much, but personally, I didn’t feel it had the sprinkling of magical Disney/Pixar pixelated pixie dust, I have been accustomed to with previous offerings. So, in order to ascertain a broader perspective of opinion, I thought I’d dip a toe into Google waters and was a little dazed and confused to read some headlines that said…
How Gay Is Pixar’s Luca?
Wait a Sec — Are the Main Characters in Pixar’s ‘Luca’ Gay?
And perhaps the headline that puzzled me most…
“Luca’ proves Disney’s Pixar wasn’t brave enough to fully commit to its first queer animated film.”
In an ever polarised “click bait” media multiverse, it’s easy to forget the target audience for Luca aren’t moody adolescents, Instagram influencers, industry professionals or even middle-aged folk like myself but those beautifully demanding beings known as…err…
Having watched most of the Disney/Pixar films, I find the animation studio have a universally sophisticated way of telling stories with an adult sensibility. Finding Nemo dealt with parental anxieties that come with watching your child grow and become their own person. Wall E was a love story that also looked at the excessive consumption of modern societies and in four minutes, the movie Up dealt with infertility, miscarriage and the passing of a loved one over time. I’m no movie critic, however these films provided story elements that all members of the audience could appreciate, at a level appropriate to their experience.
I loved the predecessor to Luca, a film called Soul…but of course I would. It’s about a middle-aged man, working within education who realised his life hasn’t quite gone the way he had originally expected. As a weary, middle-aged man I can appreciate the message of enjoying the joyful simplicity that surrounds us from the very beginning, before we transition, but my three-year-old doesn’t give a damn about such narrative themes.
So, did Disney/Pixar miss a golden opportunity to bring LGBTQ issues to an audience of children? Quite simply…
If you’ve watched the film as many times as I have, the film doesn’t even bring up the issue of burgeoning heterosexuality with the character of Luca, Alberto or Giulia because it is a film about innocence, acceptance and companionship. The film’s director, Enrico Casarosa is currently 49 and if we assume the film was loosely based around his summers in Genoa, Italy as a kid, the film itself would take place in 1985…a far more innocent time, not to mention he has publicly said “I was really keen to talk about a friendship before girlfriends and boyfriends come in to complicate things.”
It’s commonplace for celebrities to come out publicly and declare their sexuality to the world; in fact, Jack Dylan (the voice actor of the character Alberto) recently announced his bisexuality during his Instagram live broadcast. While I have no issue with his announcement, I have to wonder what that really changes in his personal life? What impact (if any) can an audience of digital strangers have on his inter personal relationships moving forward?
A person’s sexuality will not make them a better or more experienced lover, nor will it necessarily make a person more desirable to the eye of any particular beholder (although it may increase available options?) and even when mutual compatibility is found; sexuality will not enable anyone to engage more successfully within the complex web of entanglement getting into relationships provides…just ask my wife.
There actually was a time when we were all innocent and naïve, and believe it or not up until the breaking dawn of adolescence, it is important for us as young human beings to develop socially and emotionally with like-minded, platonic friends before those raging hormones kick in and turn everything…err…inside out?
Disney is not a mother, father or teacher they are an entertainment studio, that being said if you want quality films that deal with love and relationships there is a beautifully crafted animated short called Out (available on Disney +) or any number of films, documentaries or series that deal with the subject matter.
Technically Luca isn’t even human and is in fact a sea monster, so I’m not sure how important sexuality is to marine creatures of the deep. I just wonder what difference it would make to the heart of the story if Luca’s sexuality was confirmed?
Sometimes I think we fail to realise while things can be shared not everything can be felt. If not violated or abused, sexuality is a beautiful and deeply personal experience of discovery that I’m not sure requires an external audience; at least in my experience the only person that ever needed to be aware of my sexuality was the person I intended to intimately engage with.
On the one hand we complain about the fast-moving nature of the digital age and claim “children are growing up too fast” yet what hope do we have if we can’t even let a Disney/Pixar film pass without hurling irrelevant, unnecessary adult expectations on it? One of the films that had a big impact on me as a kid was a movie called E.T. and I can tell you that if Elliot did feel more then a platonic kinship toward E.T…I’m not sure if I can watch that movie again.
We all know despite anyone’s personal belief, it is wholly unacceptable to discriminate against anyone based on who they choose to love, however if we want full bodied, mature adults secure within the unique flavour of who they are, it must be accepted that while sexuality is important it will never come before the development of good character.
You don’t have to take my bias point of view, but do you know who we should really listen to? The target audience for which this film was intended, as the joy my 3-year-old daughter feels when she watches Luca tells me everything I need to know. She is engaged with the beautiful animation, the music, the characters and can now identify a Vespa from a mile away. We’ve gotta give our children time to enjoy a world where they can just “be” and trust me when I tell you even if attention grabbing media journalists don’t quite understand that concept, children do.
Until next time.