Onward & LGBTQ Representation Trends Onscreen

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“My girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out.”

If you’re not paying very close attention while watching Disney/Pixar’s new animated movie Onward, you’ll very likely miss that line. And, out of context, you might think, “Why would anyone care about this innocuous sentence?” Answer: Because it’s delivered by a female character, a policewoman to be exact.

Onward’s quiet nod to a gay character has been greeted with both celebration and frustration among secular media outlets. Slate’s Sam Adams, for example, heralded the cough-and-you’ll-miss-it line as proof that the moviemakers are treating gay characters as a normal part of life. He writes,

That line isn’t the point of the scene. In fact, it goes by so fast you could barely notice it. But that’s why it works so well. The film doesn’t pause to let it sink in or isolate the moment with a cut for emphasis. It passes unremarked, because in this world, it’s accepted as a fact of life. Some babies have two daddies, and some babies have two mommies, even if those mommies happen to be centaurs or elves.

Others, however, chastise parent company Disney for not going far enough down this path. The Wrap’s Alonso Duralde suggests that Disney and Pixar’s token nods to LGBTQ characters are added in such a way that they can be easily edited out for more culturally conservative foreign markets:

For many queer viewers, these blips of inclusivity are not cause for a pride parade. These characters are steps in the right direction, to be sure, but they are baby steps, ones that can easily be snipped or dubbed over in foreign territories.

But cultural progressives aren’t the only ones grappling with how to think about these representations. Pro-LGBTQ depictions in entertainment, particularly entertainment aimed at kids, are also challenging Christians who hold traditional, biblical convictions regarding sexuality and marriage. And they’re forcing us into what, for many of us, feels like a premature decision: How are we going to talk about this issue with our kids?

Increasingly, we’re seeing LGBTQ representation on the big screen and smaller ones, too. Sometimes the depictions of gay characters is relatively subtle, as with Onward. Elsewhere in popular culture, however, pro-gay characterization are not only impossible to miss, sometimes they’re the main point. Focus on the Family culture and policy analyst Jeff Johnson recently wrote about the new show Princess Alexander, which “targets kids ages six to nine and is an allegory for LGBTQ+ acceptance.”

And this cultural trend seems to be accelerating, showing up on shows like PBS’s Arthur (which featured an entire episode devoted to a same-sex wedding), an episode including “two mommies” on PBS’s Clifford the Big Red Dog, as well as reports that Sony’s forthcoming Cinderella film will feature a gender-free Fairy Godmother and a bisexual Spider-Man in its next iteration of that franchise.

As a parent of kids between the ages of 9 and 13  myself, I sometimes feel frustrated that our entertainment culture is so fixated on this issue, that it’s so stridently advocating a position that’s at odds with what I’m trying to teach them. It’s tempting for us to passively avoid it—to slip into denial and hope this trend will somehow run its course.

But that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Because of that, the question Christian parents must grapple with isn’t if we’re going to address this important issue. Rather, it’s when and how. Mainstream culture has an agenda that’s slowly saturating children’s programming as well as entertainment media aimed at teens and adults. And if we don’t move intentionally and purposefully into this conversation with our kids, be assured that the culture is already doing so—aggressively.

We have another choice, of course: We can simply avoid movies, music and television shows that contain these messages. But we can’t do so forever. As Adams wrote in Slate, same-sex relationships are an increasingly “accepted fact of life,” and if your kids aren’t watching movies that contain it, they’re exposed to it at school. Or at the park. Or on the beach. And remember, we’re not in a position to monitor our children’s choices forever. If we don’t talk about these issues now, they’ll still make their own decisions later.

That may not always feel like a comfortable conversation, or one they we feel like we’re ready to have with our kids. But the culture’s having that important “talk” with our kids already, whether we’re ready or not.

If you’re not sure where or how to begin to wade into this sensitive issue, Focus on the Family is here to help. The following articles will help jumpstart those conversations:

How to Talk to Your Children About Homosexuality

How to Teach Your Children About Marriage

Raising Children Who Honor Marriage

The Talk: Healthy Sexuality Education—Basic Goals and Guidance from Focus on the Family

When Transgender Issues Enter Your World 

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Natalie L 10 days ago
This is for First Comment Guy:

You might be pulling my leg, but in case you're not, Magneto's helmet blocks Professor X from reading the wearer's thoughts. So when I wanted to put on my Magneto helmet, I wanted to stop Disney from taking over my mind.
However, as I mentioned, Marvel is now owned by Disney.
So the helmet is likely bugged. ;)
...
And you should watch X-Men. ;)
Anonymous 9 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Ah! So Disney is Professor X! I get it!

For some reason, X-Men is one of those movies I never got around to seeing; I really should now that I'm moving on from the MCU.
The Mouse Of Non 17 days ago
Alright I'm getting a little sick of all this arguing going on here. Edna, get over the guy disagreeing with you, it's getting childish. And whoever you are Anonymous, please stop provoking her.
Edna Konrad 17 days ago
I really don't care how you choose to see it. I'm going to stand up against hatred whenever I come across it. That's the Christian thing to do.
Edna Konrad 17 days ago
Also:

1 Corinthians 14:34
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.

And if you want to ignore the OT teachings on what women should wear, you also have to ignore what the OT says about homosexuality.

Again, you pick and choose. No matter what your excuses are.

The Mouse Of Non 17 days ago
1 Corinthians 14:34 is a passage talking about speaking in tongues. It is saying that women shouldn't be speaking in tongues (which could also relate to preaching because God gives our Pastors the words that they preach) in front of the congregation, rather they should discuss it with their husbands first. I see nothing wrong with that, it is saying that women should not teach the church in a pastoral type role which goes back to Genesis where God said that men will rule over women to Eve. 

I am not ignoring the OT teachings on what women should wear, I am saying that the OT laws changed when Jesus came. The OT laws were put in place as laws for the Israelites so that they could have a relationship with God and be saved. When Jesus came, that changed because all we have to do is repent and believe in him to be saved, we don't have to earn our salvation. But the Bible also said that the believer should be striving to follow Christ's example. 

And is the OT the only place that says homosexuality is a sin? Nope. It is mentioned several times in the NT too. Romans 1:26-32 ESV speaks of how Jesus paid the price for homosexuals in their sin. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 speaks about how the sinners (including the homosexuals) will not inherit the kingdom of God, but it also speaks AGAIN of how Jesus paid the price for the sin of homosexuality, all they have to do is turn from their sins and be saved. 1 Timothy 1:3-11 also speaks of false teachings and sin, one of these is homosexuality.

You may think that I pick and choose, but I just read my Bible. All of it. And, you can't tell me what I believe. I don't pick and choose the passages I read. And that's my final word because I've had to repeat myself several, several times in this conversation and it's quite obvious you don't believe in the entirety of the Bible and apparently I cannot convince you of the in inerrancy of scripture. 
Anonymous 13 days ago
This Edna person is rlly a character. It's like He Who Must Not Be Named but left instead of right. This will be an interesting saga to follow. Never change Plugged in chatboards. 

-AR11
Edna Konrad 12 days ago
@The Mouse of Non

Nice excuses. You're still picking and choosing.
Edna Konrad 12 days ago
@AR11

This forum really doesn't change lol. I've only got a different name because I forgot the password to my other account I used to use on here lol. Me and he who must not be named used to get into some great arguments.
Anonymous 12 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

@Edna Konrad

Wait, you wouldn’t happen to be Inkfeather1 would you?
Anonymous 17 days ago
If this were any company besides Disney I'd support it, but I never see Disney as sincere.
Edna Konrad 17 days ago
You're correct on that one. Disney is corporate greed personified lol. 
Anonymous 18 days ago

I'm just trying to preach the truth as I understand it, and to say that parts of the bible are untrue is utter blasphemy to me. The whole word of God is true plain and simple, and the bible clearly says that sinning against the flesh is the worst sin of all, and because the bible also says you should reject and hate all sinful activities that's why I hate homosexuals and other gay people. As far as Disney movies are concerned people just don't realize how magnificent they truly are, and that's their fault for not seeing the beauty in them. Maybe I can be a bit abrasive or bossy at times, but my heart is always in the right place, remember that.

Who knows maybe I have a bit of Billy Graham in me, since one time when I was younger I was preaching to the son of a family friend of ours while sitting on the stairs, and the mom of that son told my mom what I was doing and said she hopes my preaching to him will help him to become a Christian since he had been a sinner up until that point. Or maybe it's because I come from a long line of missionaries and/or teachers in my family. Either way I just try to preach the truth as I see it, and if people want to reject it or not see the light for themselves that's on them. I can only try my hardest to bring the word across.

Anonymous 18 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I applaud you for making a stand for your beliefs. It's only when we push people away simply because they disagree with our beliefs that I have a problem with people who take a stand for their beliefs.

Now while I personally think that the Disney remakes are just a lazy way for Disney to cash in on our nostalgia, I can still at the end of the day see why some people enjoy them. If you love the live action remakes, then good for you, I'm happy that you like them. Just don't push people away for offering constructive criticism.
Edna Konrad 17 days ago
@First Comment Guy

You're saying all that to the guy who told people to kill themselves for disliking Disney movies you know.
Anonymous 17 days ago
 @Edna Konrad 
That's the point of me telling him not to push people away (or telling them to go kill themselves) for liking them.
Anonymous 17 days ago
"the bible also says you should reject and hate all sinful activities that's why I hate homosexuals and other gay people."

rephrase this please. We reject and hate the sin, we DO NOT reject or hate the sinner, as we ourselves are still sinners. This is why hypocrisy is so prominent in Christianity nowadays and we get a general bad press. 
Edna Konrad 17 days ago
And there you go again. Nothing but hatred and the Devil in your heart. You are no true follower of Jesus.
Natalie L 10 days ago
Edna, would you agree that disagreement and hatred are different things?
This is not a trick question.
P.S. I like your profile picture!
Natalie L 18 days ago
Hey guys,
I noticed that there are some misperceptions on the Catholic Church floating around in here. While this isn't the place to debate theological/religious matters (I've tried), I'd like to quickly point out that the CC stands very strongly against homosexual behaviour, as this seems to be the main topic of this discussion. (Bible interpretations can be for another day...) But it also condemns acts of hatred and prejudice against those who experience homosexual attractions and/or identify on the LGBTQ spectrum (theoretically, at least– I can't speak for the actions of all individual members)
One other thing: the argument that "if you say this part is untrue, what's stopping you from eventually disbelieving the rest of it?" is faulty. It assumes that because you take one step, the second step is guaranteed. (It is also known as the "Slippery Slope" logical fallacy.) So while I do believe that the entire Bible is without error, I would avoid making that claim. 
Keep up the excellent discussions, y'all! I love reading through the comments on these blog posts. They are truly civil compared to the junk pretty much everywhere else. (; 
The Mouse Of Non 18 days ago
If only you were here when He Who Must Not Be Named was here... you would have seen how uncivil we can be...
Natalie L 18 days ago
Oh, I was here. (: I was an entertained observer for the most part.
The Mouse Of Non 18 days ago
It was an entertaining time for quite a while!
Edna Konrad 18 days ago
We're civil for the most part. But there's a certain someone who likes to remain Anonymous who once told us to kill ourselves for disliking Disney movies :) 
Natalie L 18 days ago
Aaaah! Disney is monopolizing minds as well as entertainment!! Where's my Magneto helmet?!? 

Oh, that's right. Marvel is owned by Disney now. The helmet is probably bugged. :0
Anonymous 18 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I'd probably laugh at your Magneto joke if I understood it, but as more of a DC guy, I failed to understand it; could you possibly explain?
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The Kenosha Kid 18 days ago
Picking and choosing is what discerning, free-thinking people do all the time. 

Most Christians would give greater weight to Jesus' teachings than to the archaic OT rules about, say, women being unclean during menstruation.

We should all pick and choose, constantly, every day. 
The Mouse Of Non 18 days ago
Well, Jesus changed everything when he came and we no longer have to follow the Old Testament rules to a letter when it comes to our Salvation, we only have to trust in Christ. I believe the Old Testament is put in our Bibles so that we can see what a gift Christ was to us.
Edna Konrad 18 days ago
@The Mouse of Non

While we don't have to follow the rules of the OT, does that make the OT wrong? Do you believe that women are unclean during menstruation?
The Mouse Of Non 18 days ago
The OT is not wrong, but it points to Christ. It is not something we need to strictly follow anymore because of the rules that Christ gave us and because of the sacrifice Christ made for our sins. 

And as a guy, I have no idea how to answer the menstruation question. All I have to say is that there isn't any confusing rules about it in the New Testament.
Edna Konrad 17 days ago
@The Mouse of Non

what? You have no idea how to answer that question? I thought you believed in the Bible.
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The Mouse Of Non 18 days ago
Petty arguing from the two of you is not what we need. Listen, while I may disagree with Edna Anonymous, I'm not going to force my beliefs on her or insult her. And Edna, insulting Anonymous isn't good either! If both of you are true Christians, you should both agree that we have received an unmeasurable gift of grace that is Christ, and while you may disagree on the validity of all of scripture, you can agree that you both have received a great gift.
Chuck Anziulewicz 20 days ago
25 years ago a documentary film came out called "The Celluloid Closet." It was based on an earlier book by Vito Russo and was an examination about how Hollywood dealt with the issue of homosexuality ever since the very first, grainy silent films.And for most of Hollywood's history that treatment has not been very fair. It's a documentary worth seeing, and it may explain by Hollywood is playing "catch-up" so to speak.
Anonymous 20 days ago
Is there a reason you guys haven’t updated the front of your mobile page in over a month...?
Jessica 20 days ago
Thanks for your your interest in our ministry. We would like to let you know that the Plugged In mobile access page is up to date. Please feel free to contact us at 1-800-232-6459 for further assistance with what you are seeing as the home screen for our page. It may also be helpful to delete your browsing history (cache and cookies). We hope this helps. Blessings!
Anonymous 19 days ago
It isn’t though. I can show you a screenshot of the front page, right now, showing the same movies and shows it displayed a month ago.
Edna Konrad 19 days ago
It's up to date for me, @anonymous. Something's wrong with whatever device you are using.
Edna Konrad 22 days ago
Good for Pixar.
Anonymous 22 days ago
Bad for Pixar more like it. With all these increasing gay/lesbian characters on tv and in movies it just goes to show you how sick America is getting. Instead of embracing homosexuality we should be banning it and calling it for what it is: an abomination before God. Noone who considers themselves a Christian should embrace and be accepting of such a heinous lifestyle choice. All gays should repent and turn from their sinful ways while they still can.
Chuck Anziulewicz 20 days ago
How do you go about banning it? Constitutionally it would never work. In Lawrence v. Texas, United States v. Windsor, and Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruled repeatedly that Gay and Straight couples have to be treated equally under the 14th Amendment.

YOU may not have any LGBTQ friends, but your kids very likely will, and they may very well end up resenting your vitriol. 
Edna Konrad 19 days ago
@Chuck, a little correction: they WILL end up resenting theor parents vitriol. Religion is on the decline amongst young people in the states. It's a minority in many European countries. Why? Probably harsh and hateful views that a couple people here have espoused are turning them off.
The Mouse Of Non 21 days ago
@Edna, So you support gay marriage?

My stance on gay marriage is that it is wrong, and that we as christians should not support it. But the Bible says that we should love our "enemies" and while gay people are not strictly our enemies, we can love on them even if we don't agree with their choices. Now I don't like seeing gay representation on the screen because the Bible is very clear that homosexuality is wrong. But if I meet a gay man or woman, I'm not going to immediately start shoving in their face that. their choice is wrong, even though it is, because too many Christians have reacted poorly to gays thus causing them to have a disdain for us. 

TL;DR: I don't support gay marriage, but I'm not going to hate on gay people in real life nor will I boycott films that have brief mentions of it like Onward.
Edna Konrad 20 days ago
I can respect that you disagree with it as long as you aren't hateful about it (like certain other people here are). And yes, I support gay marriage. 
The Mouse Of Non 20 days ago
Disclaimer: None of this is meant to come out harsh, I'm just being blunt with my questions so we don't have to play around with confusion.

So Edna, do you believe in the Bible then? Because it's clear that homosexuality is a sin. And I have a couple of gay friends who are pretty fun to be around, so I definitely don't hate them, but I don't support them in that choice.

If you believe in the Bible and all, why is it that you support gay marriage then?
Edna Konrad 19 days ago
@The Mouse of Non

Like many religious people here and around the world, I just don't see the Bible as 100% accurate anymore. Even the Catholic Church, the largest Christian sect in the world, is coming to this conclusion. Hopefully you'll see this before Plugged In deletes it lol, but that's my view, like it or not.
The Mouse Of Non 19 days ago
@Edna, I saw it. So in order for you to say that in the case of homosexuality, you would have to say many, many parts of the Bible are inaccurate (several passages in the early Old Testament books and severals passages in the New Testament), and if you say that one chapter of a book is wrong, then what's from saying the rest of the book is? If you start to pick and choose what you want from the Bible, do you really believe in the Bible or do you believe in a form of Christianity that isn't really Christianity? Again, I'm not hating on Gay people, because the Bible doesn't say we need to be persecutors of those who don't believe what we do, but if we start to pick and choose what we believe in the Bible, we aren't believing in the Bible. 

Also, the Catholic Church has acted like they don't believe in large portions of the Bible for quite some time so its not really fair to use them as examples.
The Mouse Of Non 18 days ago
 @Edna Konrad 

I choose (as you have said we all choose to believe what we want), to believe that the Bible is the complete inerrant word of God. And to the point of the Old Testament, when Jesus came our need to follow all the rules and laws of the Old Testament went away. The Israelites followed those rules because that was their way of achieving salvation, all we need to do for our salvation is trust in Christ, there is no need to follow the law strictly. But everything in the Bible was put there for a reason, I believe that the Old Testament was put in the Bible for us to see what a gift Jesus was to us. 
Edna Konrad 18 days ago
@The Mouse of Non

So do you think women should not speak in church? Or that a woman should never wear a man's shirt?
The Mouse Of Non 18 days ago
Edna, how does that relate to my comment at all? It really doesn't. I'm not a feminist, but I'm not someone who thinks women need to be sidelined and only men do the work. Women and Men each have their own unique God-created roles in the church and life. Why does the shirt that a woman wears matter? In short it doesn't. Women should share in service, but they are not called to lead church services as a pastoral role. The Bible is clear that men are supposed to be the leaders. But that doesn't mean a woman couldn't speak during the service like recounting a mission trip they went on for the good of the church or something like that. That's my short answer. That was two really random questions though.
Edna Konrad 17 days ago
@The Mouse of Non

It should be obvious why I asked you those examples. The Bible is very clear that women should not speak in church nor should they wear men's clothing. You have admitted you disagree with both so I rest my case. You pick and choose what you want from the Bible same as everyone else.
The Mouse Of Non 17 days ago
Okay, so I know that's part of the OT. And I've already made my point about the OT law. If it is mentioned in the NT (I want you to bring specific passages), you have to think about the time period. Women were not to do anything in leading or in any type of male role, whether they were jewish, gentile, christian, or whatever! Now the Bible is clear that women are not to be Pastor's, that much is true. But the Bible is also clear that women have God-given roles and talents. 

I don't pick and choose, I just study my Bible and the time period, because if you were to take every single sentence in the Bible literally, it would be a weird form of christianity, but you have to look at the context of the verse and the time period and what was going on in the church.
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Donald Johnson 22 days ago
It's not normal it's an abomination before God and I applaud plugged in for taking a stand. We must instill the Word of God in our kids like never before. If we don't this filthy sin loving world will.
Anonymous 22 days ago
I couldn't have said it better myself.