In particular, GLAAD criticized Disney for failing to include a single LGBT character in any of its 11 studio releases last year.
In its annual report on “studio responsibility,” GLAAD tracks the number of LGBT-inclusive films released by each studio. Disney is an especially influential example because of its worldwide brand recognition and all-ages audience, covering its animated movies, the Star Wars franchise, and Marvel Studios. According to GLAAD’s report, Star Wars would be the ideal place to start including more LGBT characters.
“As sci-fi projects have the special opportunity to create unique worlds whose advanced societies can serve as a commentary on our own, the most obvious place where Disney could include LGBT characters is in the upcoming eighth Star Wars film. 2015’s The Force Awakens has introduced a new and diverse central trio, which allows the creators opportunity to tell fresh stories as they develop their backstory.”
GLAAD also highlighted the presence of LGBT characters in the new canon Star Wars books, something that isn’t wholly unusual for popular multimedia franchises.
The Marvel franchise also includes several queer characters in its Netflix series Jessica Jones, but books and TV spinoffs have a fraction of the audience afforded to movies like The Force Awakens. And as GLAAD points out, there’s a big difference between including LGBT characters in an adult-rated film or TV show and including them in a family-friendly movie that could have a positive influence on young audiences.
Given its findings, it sounds like GLAAD would endorse the campaign to make Poe Dameron gay or bisexual in Episode VIII. Come on, Disney. You don’t want another failing grade.