Two critics have clashed over whether Toy Story 4 is lacking in diversity, after Stella Duffy sparked debate for saying the film had ‘no black leads’.
Afua Adom and Shola Mos-Shogbamimu appeared on Good Morning Britain to debate the film, which Duffy slammed as anti-feminist, disablist, and not diverse.
The comments made by writer and theatremaker Duffy were discussed in depth by both Adom and Mos-Shogbamimu, with the latter saying Pixar ‘can do better’ in terms of its representation.
However, Adom, a journalist and editor-in-chief at Glam Africa Magazine, told presenters Susanna Reid, Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway, that the row had completely missed the point of the film.
People have missed the point of Toy Story – it’s a story about toys. I think I saw a diverse range of characters – I saw a Martian, I saw a Mr Potato Head and I saw a dinosaur.
Lawyer Mos-Shogbamimu disagreed, describing any parent or adult missing the point of the backlash Toy Story 4 is facing as ‘diabolically ignorant’.
You can watch the debate in full below:
Mos-Shogbamimu continued, telling the presenters the film had not reflected the wide range of experiences among its young audience.
Children deserve to have a representative teachable moment of their lived experience. We know toys don’t talk, we know they don’t fly, but entertainment must always have a moralistic value.
Animation and fictional characters take on human characteristics for a reason, to tell a moral story of good overcoming evil, good overcoming against the odds.
Children are diverse and have diverse experiences. Movie companies like Pixar and Disney have a global platform to become part of the evolution of diversity and inclusion.
It comes after Duffy said the film fails to represent minorities and went on to criticise it for having ‘no black lead characters’.
While appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Review show, Duffy spoke out about the missed opportunity for Toy Story 4 to commit to better representation of minorities.
Duffy, 56, criticised the fourth instalment for having no black lead characters, while accepting it did utilise black actors. She also dismissed the idea that feisty Bo Peep is a feminist and argued the film is ‘disablist’, regarding it to be prejudiced against those with disabilities.
The 56-year-old said:
I’m the Grinch who hated it. Seriously, it’s 2019! What on Earth are Disney doing having a film that has no leads that are black characters.
Yes, there are black actors, but they are yellow and they are green and they are plush! How can they possibly think that it’s alright now?
Yeah, maybe in 1995 – which was also wrong then, as well, actually – but now, to be serious, where every single humanoid toy, is white? It’s just shocking!
just had my first-ever reviewing hate email as a result of noting (on #SaturdayReview) that #ToyStory4 only has white toy leads & the Mamet is, er, misogynist. Lengthy email also notes Weinstein AND Spacey's problems are due to feminist conspiracy. so, obv, taking it seriously.
— Stella Duffy (@stellduffy) June 24, 2019
Duffy then turned her attention to Bo Peep:
Okay, let’s talk about the white feminism on display here. Oh look! Bo-Peep’s a feminist. No she’s not! She’s still going to fall in love, she’s still going to have the happily ever after, that’s not feminism!
It’s a woman who kicks off her skirt to reveal bloomers. Had a couple of thoughts… and does some high wire acts. And it’s disablist! It covers ALL bases!
It looks good – but Disney is supposed to LOOK good. There has to be content to the story too!
The argument continues to spark debate among many, leading thousands to question whether Pixar should have attempted to make the film more diverse, or whether it’s fine just the way it is.
What do you think?
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).