Disney has a brutal history of queerbaiting, but it’s not as bad as everyone says it is.
Disney is one of the most influential businesses in the world between its movies, theme parks, streaming service and more. As of 2020, its net worth is $140 billion, according to Slide Business.
With this much power, it’s no wonder people demand representation. Its high pedestal makes it ideal for making big strides towards equality, but Disney continuously chooses profit instead.
In order to balance profit and representation, Disney gained a reputation for queerbaiting constantly. For those unfamiliar, queerbaiting is the marketing of apparent queer characters for marketing while keeping their sexuality ambiguous to avoid scrutiny.
For example, Disney attracted media attention when they promised to include a lesbian kiss in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but then placed the kiss in the background between two minor side characters.
Another example would be the 2022 movie Lightyear, where they guaranteed a scene where two women kiss, but it was a small peck between, again, two minor characters. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever also
falls into this category.
Despite the uproar for years over this issue, Disney continues to do this over and over, but there is a reason.
Disney is a business with a goal to make as much money as possible. They are adding as much representation of the LGBT community as they feel possible without losing money, and that’s not necessarily as bad as people say it is.
With the inclusion of LGBT moments sprinkled throughout different Disney movies, they are unintentionally normalizing love between same-sex couples. Because the spotlight isn’t on these couples, they’re portrayed more normally and naturally than if they had a big show made over them, just like any other couple.
Even though it feels like Disney is catering to homophobic moviegoers by not putting these moments in the spotlight, they are still exposing them to queer media which is a step in the right direction.
There is also a tendency of fans to throw around the term ’queerbaiting’ lightly. The term has been used to describe real people like Harry Styles, Taylor Swift and many more, but it is impossible for real people to market their sexuality.
Real people do not owe the public a coming out statement. To demand one is grossly entitled and hurtful.
Also, Disney might not explicitly state a character’s sexuality, but they are adding explicitly queer moments to their movies which is, by definition, not queerbaiting.
Criticism towards Disney is totally valid for many reasons, but Disney is, in a way, making big strides towards representation, and eventually main characters will be out and proud.
It’s ok to demand more. Without the push for representation, Disney wouldn’t even have come this far.
It’s important to remember, though, that their main goal is, and will always be, making more money.
They dont care about representation unless we push them to.