I haven’t yet seen Wreck-It Ralph, the newest computer-animated Disney film, but despite its favorable reviews and box-office success, it seems that the video game-inspired film has taken on a bit of the homophobic (and misogynist) nature of gamer culture.
Huffington Post blogger Chris Bogia, who describes himself as "a 35-year-old gay man and life-long video gamer," shares his disappointment that not only does the film’s villain (the King Candy, voiced by Alan Tudyk) seem like a gay stereotype, but the film’s hero uses a seemingly harmless, yet homophobic, slur to describe him:
After some limp-wristed gesticulating by our villain, Ralph grabs him, shakes him, and calls the confectionary monarch a "nelly wafer" (it’s like Nilla Wafer, get it?)
That word is hardly thrown around these days, and I’m sure most young kids seeing Wreck-It Ralph wouldn’t know what it means. However, when entered into Google for anyone that didn’t already know it’s definition, here it is:
"Offensive Slang: Used as a disparaging term for an effeminate homosexual man."
There’s very little grey area here. The hero of the Disney animated movie I just saw shook the mincing, effeminate villain and called him a homophobic slur (after already insulting his decorating taste!).
Again, I haven’t yet seen the movie, but it’s particularly troubling. Bogia goes on, however, and brings up a point that I hadn’t really thought of before:
Disney (never mind the American film industry) has made yet ANOTHER of its villains an effeminate male. Let’s not forget Aladdin‘s Jafar, Lion King‘s Scar, Jungle Book‘s Sher Kahn and Robin Hood‘s Prince John (the last three mentioned are all feline by the way, which is weird, but I’m not writing a dissertation so I’m going to let that go for now). Disney could remove the "nelly" slur from later releases of Ralph (something they MUST do), but no team of animators is going to be brought in to "butch up" the poor King of Candy, just as no one has done anything about the other villains. Today children everywhere are safe from the racial implications of Song of the South’s contented singing slaves, but when will they be safe from blatant homophobia at the movies — at children’s movies no less?
Three’s certainly a trend, and putting the four aforementioned Disney villains in the front of my brain in one gay group certainly got the wheels in my head turning (especially Prince John in Robin Hood.) While "nelly" doesn’t have the sting of other gay slurs, it’s certainly not a term that we should be promoting to children and encouraging them, by way of an animated hero, to pick up as appropriate slang.
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