‘Strange World’ Officially Banned Country-Wide as Disney Doubles Down on Diversity

in Disney, Movies

Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal) and unknown character in Disney's 'Strange World'

Credit: Disney

Disney seems truly committed to showcasing diversity on the big screen this time, as they’ve long been promising audiences they would.

strange world clade family facing front
Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

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The Walt Disney Company’s latest animated feature film Strange World (2022) is the newest in the line of Walt Disney Animation Studios projects that will hit the big screen. Led by filmmaker and director Don Hall, who also co-directed some major Disney movies such as Winnie the Pooh (2011), Big Hero 6 (2014), Moana (2016), and Raya and the Last Dragon (2021), the new film is releasing over Thanksgiving weekend. It promises a family-centric, thrilling, adventure-filled romp through a strange, alien world (hence the title, Strange World). The animated movie will follow a family and motley crew of explorers spanning three generations, known as the legendary Clades.

Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) looks out on a strange landscape. Credit: Disney
Credit: Disney

The main character Ethan Clade is played by Jaboukie Young-White in the voice cast, and is the 16-year-old grandson of adventure-seeking Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid). Meridian Clade (Gabrielle Union), is the wife of his son, Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal), while Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu) is head of Avalonia, the magical world in which the film is set. As we covered previously, Jaboukie Young-White’s character Ethan is the openly LGBTQ+ teen whose story will be Disney’s first ever explicitly gay (and apparently plot-centric) romance in a feature film.

However, as we predicted previously, the film’s explicit featuring of a gay romance has resulted in a few new problems regarding the screening availability of this brand-new Disney animated movie.

The Clade family explore a strange new land in 'Strange World' (2022). Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

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According to Deadline, there are currently about 20 international markets in which The Walt Disney Company is not releasing the film:

This includes all of the Middle East, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Vietnam, East Africa (Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya), West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana), Maldives, Nepal and Bangladesh. (Naturally given the current geopolitical context, the film was not submitted to Russia).

And the exact reason they’re not releasing there may be a little surprising.

A strange new world. Credit: Disney
Credit: Disney

The LGBTQ+ references in Strange World apparently cannot be simply cut out — as they are supposedly plot-related. As a result, Disney has  decided to double down on their stance of supporting this diversity by refusing to cut out a significant chunk of their story:

Strange World features a key character, Ethan (voiced by Jaboukie Young-White), who has a crush on another boy in the movie. This is an inherent part of the storyline. Unwilling to make any edits that would impact storytelling, Disney thus made the preemptive decision not to submit the movie to censorship authorities where there may have been challenges.

Disney additionally made the “preemptive decision” to not even submit the film to censorship with many government bodies — as they are “unwilling to make any any edits that would impact storytelling”. But this is not the first time Walt Disney Animation Studios or Pixar Animation Studios has run into issues with censorship and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment from governing bodies.

Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) in Disney's 'Strange World'
Credit: Disney

In fact, many previous films from the company and their studios have had at least some reaction from censors — whether it be edits to remove explicit or sometimes even implied LGBTQ+ relationships or references, or blanket bans. Most recently, Pixar Animation Studios’ Toy Story-spinoff Lightyear (2022) faced backlash from conservative countries, as did Canada-based Turning Red (2022).  Additionally, Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films, including Taika Waititi-directed Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor Odinson) was banned in Malaysia for an implied “gay” relationship between two aliens. The latest MCU film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) also faced bans in countries like China over a tiny moment shared between two female Wakandan Dora Milaje warriors — a kiss on the forehead. Whether more bans happen to this particular animated film, however, still remains to be seen.

Will you be watching Strange World in theaters? What do you think of these bans? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The Walt Disney Company spans many family-friendly properties that you know and love, including the Disney Parks, often cited as the Happiest Place(s) on Earth. These theme parks house many classic rides and attractions, and are situated all around the world — from the first-ever Disney Park created by Walt Disney himself, the Disneyland Resort’s Disneyland Park in Anaheim California, to the Walt Disney World Resort and the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, far beyond to the Disneyland Paris Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, and the Tokyo Disney Resort.

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