Disney will introduce their first Pixar LGBT animated character, Officer Specter, in their upcoming film Onward.
Officer Specter is a Cyclops police officer voiced by Lena Waithe in Onward. The character is only expected to appear in a single scene. However, Yahoo Entertainment describes Officer Specter’s role as “vital to the emotional arc of the story.”
Yahoo details Specter’s role:
“Officer Specter enters the narrative in mid-quest as Ian and Barley are en route to the magical mountains outside of their otherwise ordinary town. The brothers’ reckless piloting of Barley’s beloved van, Guinevere, brings them to the attention of one-eyed Specter and her faun sidekick, Officer Gore (Ali Wong), who pull the boys over. Not wanting to be escorted home, Ian casts a masking spell that temporarily disguises him and Barley as Colt. The ruse fools Specter, who listens as “Officer Bronco” complains about his girlfriend’s kids and the difficulty of being the new guy in their mom’s life. She immediately sympathizes with him, saying: “My girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out,” but suggests that the best thing they can do is try to be there for them. In that moment, both Ian and Barley start to understand that their family’s new arrangement is as difficult for Colt as it is for them. As Ian’s illusion starts to break down, the brothers make a quick exit… but not quick enough to avert Specter’s suspicions. She gets a message to the real Colt through the police switchboard and the chase resumes.”
Producer Kori Rae tells Yahoo Entertainment the inclusion of the character “just kind of happened.”
Rae adds, “The scene, when we wrote it, was kind of fitting and it opens up the world a little bit, and that’s what we wanted.”
Director Scanlon added, “It’s a modern fantasy world and we want to represent the modern world.”
Following the reveal that Onward would feature a LGBT character, Mary Papenfuss wrote in HuffPost that there were a few problems. Papenfuss detailed, “A few problems: With just a single LGBTQ character, the modern world of “Onward” isn’t so modern.”
She continues, “Officer Specter makes only a brief appearance in a single scene and refers once to her girlfriend.”
Papenfuss then takes issue with the character’s design, “And though the film takes place in a “magical kingdom” with “fantastical creatures,” the other characters in the trailer all look pretty … normal.”
Papenfuss was not alone in her criticism. Folks on Twitter decried Disney.
The underseen MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL plays like a queer rights allegory, and Elsa is _right there_ (but no pressure, Disney Animation), but we’re supposed to cheer that the sexuality of a minor character in a Pixar movie is treated like a nonissue? Color me unimpressed. https://t.co/TUZQnHvSiw
— Rubén Rosario (@RubenRos) February 21, 2020
The lesbian character in onward just appear one time lmao i love disney 🤪 pic.twitter.com/i1sUZbNsYZ
— Moon🌛💕 @ bitch is back in town😎 (@DestinytoMoon) February 22, 2020
The only criticism of the Onward “First Gay character ever” I don’t think makes sense or is fair is It’s a one eyed monster woman thus not normal.
Uhh that entire movie is monster people
That works if it’s like Star Wars where it’s all humans but the gay person was a slime
— Dakota ⚡️⚠️ (@DakDread) February 22, 2020
i have never heard of onward and this character literally looks like fucking garbage pic.twitter.com/fENSU4xn7O
— bespoke gamer shoes (@stealthrockdmg) February 22, 2020
Onward cyclops: I love my wife
**dies and is removed from the rest of the movie** pic.twitter.com/wNQkx29h4u
— Milo 🌟✨ (@planetzboy) February 24, 2020
Jeremy Griggs from Geeks + Gamers mocked Disney for their flat and shallow statement with the character. As Griggs notes in his video, Disney pandered to a small group of people who in all likelihood will not be customers.
But they also did it in a way where the character is so minor that when its time to create edits for the Chinese market and other markets it won’t make a real difference in the story.
Here’s the official description for Onward:
“When teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot (voices of Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) get an unexpected opportunity to spend one more day with their late dad, they embark on an extraordinary quest aboard Barley’s epic van Guinevere. Like any good quest, their journey is filled with magic spells, cryptic maps, impossible obstacles and unimaginable discoveries.
But when the boys’ fearless mom Laurel (voice of Julia Louis-Dreyfus) realizes her sons are missing, she teams up with a part-lion, part-bat, part-scorpion, former warrior – aka The Manticore (voice of Octavia Spencer) – and heads off to find them. Perilous curses aside, this one magical day could mean more than any of them ever dreamed. Directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae, Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” opens in U.S. theaters on March 6, 2020. “
The film stars Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Mel Rodriguez, Lena Waithe, and Ali Wong.