It was announced over the weekend that British actor Jack Whitehall will by playing Disney’s first openly gay character in the forthcoming action film, The Jungle Cruise. The film, based on a Disney Parks attraction of the same name, will also star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Emily Blunt.
A source told The Sun, “This is a huge gig for Jack and has landed him his biggest ever pay cheque. But, more excitingly, he is playing a gay man – one who is hugely effete, very camp and very funny.”
They added, “This latest script, set at a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable to be gay, is another significant turning point.”
However, not everybody is happy about the casting of a straight actor in a gay role. Many took to Twitter to express their disapproval of the casting decision.
Nole Ksum writes, “If you’re one of the people who ‘doesn’t see the big deal’ RE Jack Whitehall, a straight white male cast as the first openly gay Disney character then you’re part of the problem.”
If you’re one of the people who ‘doesn’t see the big deal’ RE Jack Whitehall, a straight white male cast as the first openly gay Disney character then you’re part of the problem ?????
— NOLE KSUM (@ClionaLou) August 13, 2018
Callum Jackson adds, “How is a straight actor playing a “hugely effete, very camp,” secondary gay character helpful for #LGBT visibility and positive portrayal in the arts? Booooo.”
— Callum Jackson (@cjjackson93) August 13, 2018
“Super excited about this huge moment for the LGBTQ+ family, and @jackwhitehall is amazing,” says James Barr. “BUT when so many gay actor friends of mine are turned down for straight roles because there’s a “whiff of gay”, it’s frustrating to cast NonGay people in gay roles.”
Super excited about this huge moment for the LGBTQ+ family, and @jackwhitehall is amazing https://t.co/FwH4d7BZqZ BUT when so many gay actor friends of mine are turned down for straight roles because there’s a “whiff of gay”, it’s frustrating to cast NonGay people in gay roles
— James Barr ???? (@imjamesbarr) August 13, 2018
The controversy over Whitehall’s casting is taking place right after Scarlett Johannson came under fire for accepting a role as transgender mobster Dante Tex Gill. Johannson later backed out of the project, saying, “I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film.”
Here are some more responses to Whitehall’s casting and the subsequent outrage:
— Omar Sharif Jr. (@OmarSharifJr) August 13, 2018
Shock as actor is asked to play someone different from themselves. Isn’t that kind of the point? Wouldn’t always casting gay actors in gay roles be condemned for typecasting? https://t.co/tfni2m3B1P
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) August 13, 2018
Don't blame Disney for hiring a straight actor for its first out gay role.
Gays, this one's on us.
Look I KNOW we love our careers in STEM, and employment law, and metalworking.
But goddammit SOME of us should consider going into acting.
— Glen Weldon (@ghweldon) August 13, 2018
Gays: We want a gay Disney character!
Disney: Okay, we’ll give you LeFou in Beauty & the Beast.
Disney: Okay, there’s a gay guy in Jungle Cruise our…
Gays: WE ARE OUTRAGED THAT YOU WOULD EXPLOIT A STEREOTYPE HOW DARE YOU AND VOICED BY A STRAIGHT MAN NO LESS!
— Stewart Thurlow (@stewartthurlow) August 12, 2018
wait… how come no one batted an eye when Nick Robinson, a straight man, played a gay character in Love Simon? but now y’all fake outraged over Jack Whitehall playing a gay character just cause it’s a disney movie, I have to laugh
— jamie ? (@jamieehudson_) August 13, 2018
Disney is putting an openly gay character in a kid's film for the first time. The Left is outraged that the actor playing the character is straight. A crucial dynamic is on display here.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) August 13, 2018