Given that many Disney characters have teetered on the edge of being ‘out’, it wasn’t such a surprise to see the company itself finally go all out and gay with the casting of a gay character in a new Disney blockbuster ‘Jungle Cruise’ - itself based on a Disney theme park ride. Even that’s kind of tentative. Not a bona fide blockbuster then. But it’s something.
However - you just knew this was coming - they opted to cast very British comedian Jack Peter Benedict Whitehall as its leading man. Or leading ‘gay’ man for a role described as ‘hugely effete’ and ‘very camp’.
It’s a moment. Culturally, that is.
As such is it not just a teeny weensy little bit sad that for its first gay visible production Disney opt for a performer who is blazingly heterosexual. Does that mean that there really were no proper gay males in the acting profession who could perform this role? And, yes, we get that acting is ‘acting’ - but for a first Disney movie to come out as it were… shouldn’t they have tried harder?
Whitehall is as establishment as that tribe known as ‘luvvies’ come in the UK; Nigel Havers is his godfather. His father a theatrical agent. Channel 4 managed to crow bar both into their very own show. For double luvvie dom.
In the whole wonderful world of Disney are they truly sure that if the brief is ‘very camp’ that they can rely on a performer whose oeuvre is stand up to deliver something that doesn’t descend into parody? Whitehall is funny. But nuanced? Not really…