Disney has finally done it. They are going to openly acknowledge a gay character in one of their films. Of course there have been teases at gay characters before, most recently in the new live action Beauty & The Beast with the character Lefou, but this is the first time a character will be actually acknowledged as gay. Disney has certainly acquired a following of fans that are part of the LGBTQ community so this is a long time coming. The big controversy now is not over the fact that they have an openly gay character, but the fact that they cast a straight white male to play this gay "Jungle Cruise" character in their upcoming film. The SJWs unite over this one. They are up in arms that since this is a big deal coming from Disney (to finally acknowledge it), that they did not cast a gay actor to play the character. Cries of outrage pour out over Twitter.
Before I get into my thoughts on this, a little about "Jungle Cruise". The movie is based off of the classic Disney ride of literally a Jungle Cruise that takes you on an exploration through and down several major rivers of Asia, Africa, and South America. It takes place in the 19th century around the 1930s. Wikipedia lists the premise as this: "Frank, a boat captain, takes a sister and her brother on a mission into a jungle to find a tree believed to possess healing powers. All the while, the trio must fight against dangerous wild animals and a competing German expedition."
Here "The Rock" who stars in the upcoming role, tells you more about the movie, and set based off the ride:
As far as the outrage over Jack Whitehall(the actor that was cast to play the gay character of Lily Houghton's brother (unnamed)) I can see both sides of people's viewpoints but ultimately I don't think it's a big deal that they cast a non-gay actor to play a gay character. This has been going on for years and vice versa. How many gay actors have played straight roles and so forth? I get that this is a BIG deal for Disney to put out it's first openly gay character and a lot of people believe to honor that, it should be a legit gay actor, but I don't think it's necessary. I think the move is big enough on it's own, they don't need to pick a actor based on the fact that he's gay to validate the big moment. Some believe that should be the case. I do not. While I understand where they are coming from, I come from the viewpoint that regardless of your sexuality, roles should be chosen on talent alone. Now I also understand that some roles call for certain aspects of a character and the actor should have or be that, people would argue this is one of those moments. An example would be that a character is an African American male between the ages of 20-30 and so it would be highly inappropriate to cast a white male and try to pull off "black-face" or change his ethnicity when the character is meant to be strictly African American. That would be ignorant and inappropriate so they need to find a good talent that fits that characteristic. When it comes to sexuality though, I think that's actable. What I mean is that it doesn't matter what sexuality you are, you as an actor can portray it differently. The same goes for religion, sometimes age (not often though but you can play with that one with makeup), and heritage/traditions. Those are things that as an actor you study the craft of how to portray a character who is say Mormon when in reality you are not Mormon. Do you need a Mormon actor to play a Mormon character? No. At least in my viewpoint. Although I tend to be a situational person who I would say in the majority of times, no, but it depends on the project and subject content and maybe in a certain scenario, having a Mormon play a Mormon character might be the best option. It's situational. I tend to go back to talent though. If you have a non-Mormon actor play the character and highlight the characteristics of a Mormon even better than the real life Mormon, then I would say go with the non-Mormon actor because he out performs the other one.
Overall, while I see the viewpoint coming from the social outcries over this choice, I generally think it doesn't matter. It's a victory in itself that Disney did this, let's not nit pick. Acting is called acting for a reason. When you act, more often than not you are portraying a character or person that you indeed are not. This is not real life. It's a movie so it's okay that this actor is not gay like the character he is portraying.
With that being said, I leave you with the lovely Emily Blunt and dashing Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson promoting the upcoming film: