From perpetuating stereotypes to using violence against queer people as a plot device or straight-up refusing to clarify the orientation of meaningful LGBT characters in film, these portraits were are considered the most damaging or ineffective from any major Hollywood film in 2016. [Source: GLAAD Studio Responsibility Index]
20th Century Fox
“Deadpool” (Fox) This irreverent superhero was impossible to deny in any way — except, of course, if you count how the film denied its own promise to feature a “pansexual” Deadpool. Director Tim Miller said he was intent to show the potty-mouthed hero as one not limited in his choice of sexual preference, but it never manifested on the screen.
There was also plenty of conversation about a scene where Reynolds’ Wade Wilson is “pegged” (penetrated with a strap-on by his scene partner Morena Baccarin) but “the scene was played as a joke and as a painful moment that Wade himself was not actually wanting to engage in other than as a favor to his lover.”
“Demolition” (Lionsgate) This Jake Gyllenhaal indie sees the actor befriend a young closeted gay man, whom he advises to remain in the closet until he can move to a bigger, more accepting city. The boy ignores this advice and attends a local gay bar, where he is jumped by a group of straight men. The gay character “never seemed to be actually uncomfortable with himself to begin with, [so] it is disheartening that the film decided to use this kind of violence as a plot device.”
“Zoolander 2” (Paramount) Where to begin with this sequel 15 years in the making, but one GLAAD called “incredibly dated in both story and its attempted humor.”
That’s a compliment compared to what comes next.
“Prior to the release of Zoolander 2, a petition was launched calling for a boycott of the film after the first trailer included Benedict Cumberbatch as a non-binary model named All. The character is a completely cartoonish portrayal of a non-binary person. [Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson] obsess over the idea of what kind of genitals All has, asking if they ‘have a hot dog or a bun.'”
The study found that while “comedy can be a powerful too to hold a mirror up to society and challenge expectations, cheap jokes constructed without thought that use an already marginalized community as a punchline only reinforce ignorance and prejudice. Further, positioning an LGBTQ identity as something which is inherently absurd and worthy of mocking does real harm to actual people who experience harassment and violence on a regular basis.”
“Sausage Party” (Sony) This animated orgy from Seth Rogen might as well be disqualified given how offensive it was to all of god’s creatures (and some our finest foods and beverages). GLAAD raised one point, however, about reinforcing stereotypes.
“Characters are a shallow pun based on their name, including Twink the Twinkie and the overly effeminate produce who are not actual characters so much a series of jokes based on the derogatory term ‘fruit,'” they said.
20th Century Fox
“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” (Fox) In their quest to land plus ones, Zac Efron and Adam Devine interview many candidates — including a man in a wig trying to pass as female.
“This very clearly furthers the dangerous cultural narrative that someone who does not look conventionally female is a joke to be laughed at, and that straight men might be ‘tricked’ by a woman who’s ‘really a man,'” GLAAD said.
“Nocturnal Animals” (Focus) It’s surprising that a film directed by a gay icon (the notoriously provocative designer Tom Ford) would get dinged by GLAAD — but the film’s two gay characters (one played by Michael Sheen, one only referenced in the history of characters played by Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal) did not pass muster.
“Though it is clear that this film takes place in a world inclusive of gay characters accepted by the protagonists, it is disappointing that their stories are centered on the straight women in their lives,” the SRI said.
“Zootopia” (Disney) A same-sex couple lives next door to crime-fighting bunny rabbit Judy Hopps, but vagueness kills any clarity and, therefore, visibility.
“While confirmed inclusion is a step forward for children’s films, we would like to see these characters be more forthrightly defined within the film itself going forward.”
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (Warner Bros.) The film got points for cameos from out journalists Anderson Cooper and Andrew Sullivan playing in fictionalized versions of themselves, but these do not gay characters make, the study said.
“We continually hope that future superhero films will include substantial queer characters. While more out comic book characters are making the leap from the page to television, mainstream hero films are still cutting them from the big screen.”
“Hail, Caesar!” (Paramount) In this Coen Brothers old-Hollywood dramedy, Channing Tatum plays a very ambitious actor-dancer who sleeps with his director (Ralph Fiennes). It’s also revealed that an established star (George Clooney) climbed the latter the same way.
“The trope of predatory gay characters bribing or pressuring a straight man into sex is both offensive and incredibly overdone through the years,” GLAAD said.
“Dirty Grandpa” (Lionsgate) GLAAD had zero respect for this elder, calling the film “one of the more offensive lms released recently by a major studio.” The crux of their issue came from an African American gay male character named Bradley, who “has no agency or story, and is only present as a punchline for Dick’s racist and anti-gay jokes.”
“Central Intelligence” (Warner Bros.) This film ties with “Dirty Grandpa” for top offender. The Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart (a top repeat offender in this annual survey) buddy comedy is described as “a near two-hour gay panic joke that relies on the long-running homophobic ‘sissy’ stereotype for most of the lm’s intended punchlines.”
“Suicide Squad” (Warner Bros.) GLAAD was bummed that this widely-panned film did not reference Harley Quinn’s bisexuality — explored in many of the comic books, especially a romantic relationship with fellow villainess Poison Ivy.
“If they follow the source comics, audiences can look forward to seeing some of the romantic relationship between Quinn and Ivy. This would be a huge moment for superhero films, which continue to leave out meaningful LGBTQ characters,” the study said.
“While Harley Quinn is bisexual in the pages of many DC Comics and continually veers between her love for fellow anti-hero Poison Ivy and returning to her abusive relationship with The Joker.”
“Finding Dory” (Disney)
Much ado was made about two women being a same-sex couple in the animated film — but their cameo was so fleeting and, as the study points out, director Andrew Stanton refused to confirm or deny this as true. GLAAD did not count the characters in its tally of 70 represented in mainstream films — a big missed opportunity given the film’s voice star Ellen DeGeneres is arguably the most visible lesbian in the world.