OK theater's warning about same-sex kiss in 'Lightyear' sparks controversy
KINGFISHER, Okla. (KFOR) — A sign reportedly posted in the window of an Oklahoma theater stirred controversy this week after it delivered a message to parents: a same-sex kiss in Disney-Pixar’s “Lightyear” would be “fast-forwarded.”
The sign was reportedly posted over the weekend at the 89-ER Movie Theater in Kingfisher and photos circulated on social media. KFOR later received a photo of the sign.
The kiss is seen near the beginning of the CGI-animated film and shows two women briefly kissing. It has been banned in several other countries because of the scene.
The full sign reportedly read: “WARNING. Attention parents: The management of this theatre discovered after booking ‘Lightyear’ that there is a same-sex kissing scene within the first 30 minutes of the Pixar movie. We will do all we can to fast-forward through that scene but it might not be exact. We apologize for any inconvenience this last discovery of the scene causes.”
As of Monday afternoon, the theater’s sign had been removed.
Local parent Jacqueline Williams said she saw a photo of the sign online just as she was taking her son to see “Lightyear” at a different theater.
“That poster [that] the Kingfisher theater posted upset me a bit… I don’t want my child to be afraid of anyone based on who they love or what their orientation is,” Williams said. “And I feel like that poster breeds fear.”
Williams said it was only the second time she’d ever taken her son to see a movie in a theater. She told KFOR that it’s her responsibility as a parent to decide what her pre-schooler sees.
“I think it’s not giving parents a choice,” she said about the idea of fast forwarding through the movie. “If I’m taking my kid to see the movie, chances are I know what the movie is going to have and I’m going to understand it.”
She said she chose to take her kid to see “Lightyear.”
Theater management declined an interview with KFOR and they also did not respond to additional questions about the sign, or if they’ve posted similar warnings for other movies in the past.
The other movie showing at the theater, “Jurassic World Dominion,” is rated PG-13. No warning was posted about that film though it features several heterosexual kisses.
Williams says the kiss in “Lightyear” represented an opportunity to teach a lesson, rather than stoke fear and division.
“It’s important to start having conversations with them early so you can help them navigate that world,” she said. “I don’t want my child to ever be afraid of somebody or less kind of somebody because of their orientation or who they love.”
“Lightyear” is rated ‘PG’, or ‘Parental Guidance Suggested’ since some material may not be suitable for children — meaning its content should be investigated by parents beforehand.
Movie ratings were established in 1968, and according to the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA), as a tool to help parents determine if a movie is suitable for their kids to watch.
“Lightyear” is the fifth theatrically released film in the “Toy Story” franchise, though it’s the first spin-off. The movie explores the early astronaut days of franchise hero Buzz Lightyear, voiced by “Captain America” actor Chris Evans.
Domestically, the film has underperformed in theaters so far, opening to a $50.6 million weekend despite $70-$85 million expectations, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film’s release also comes following intense attention on Disney and its representation — or lack of representation — of LGBTQ people in its films.
Back in March, the $94 billion-dollar company faced pressure to take economic action against the state of Florida (where its lucrative Walt Disney World resides) in the wake of House Bill 1557, known informally as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. HB 1557 prevents teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues in K-3rd grade classrooms, it allows parents/guardians to sue teachers and/or schools who discuss these topics.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the legislation into law in April.
Around this time, Disney CEO Bob Chapek drew criticism after sending a letter to Disney employees responding to HB 1557, saying the “biggest impact” the company could make in “creating a more inclusive world is through the inspiring content we produce.”
Meanwhile, a group of queer Pixar employees urged parent company Disney to deliver on Chapek’s words. In a letter obtained by Variety, the group said despite claims of trying to be inclusive, Disney executives have demanded cuts of “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection” in Pixar films.
The letter, signed by “the LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar & their allies,” claimed Disney execs have demanded cuts to same-sex affection in Pixar films whether there have been complaints or not. Disney and Pixar representatives did not immediately respond for comment at that time.
Following much negative reaction, Chapek vowed the company would donate $5 million to LGBTQ advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign. HRC said it would decline the donation “until meaningful action is taken,” however.