Toy Story 4 is already one of the biggest movies of the summer, scoring highly with critics and audience members alike.
By and large, fans have been won over by the heart, humour and existential angst which have long elevated Toy Story as a classic among film franchises.
However, one writer has been left decidedly unamused by this latest return to the toy box, and has called Pixar’s latest adventure out on its lack of diversity.
Speaking out about the new release while appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Review show, writer and theatremaker Stella Duffy spoke out about the missed opportunity for Toy Story 4 to commit to more representation for minorities.
Duffy, 56, has criticised the fourth instalment for having no black lead characters and has dismissed the idea that feisty Bo Peep is a feminist.
Furthermore, she has also argued the film is ‘disablist’, regarding it to be prejudiced against those with disabilities.
Speaking about the lack of black characters in the film, Duffy 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
Turning her attentions to the daring – and supposedly independent minded – Bo Peep, Duffy said:
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!
Whether or not you agree with Duffy’s harsh critique of Toy Story 4, it cannot be denied that – despite some recent strides – Hollywood still has a very obvious representation problem.
According to UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report 2019, there have been gains for women and people of colour in lead roles since the last report.
However, the movie industry is still a long way off from achieving proportionate representation. Just two out of ten of leading film characters are people of colour, while women make up 32.2 per cent of film leads.
When it comes to disabled representation, the figures are disheartening to say the least. A 2016 study from the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, revealed how out of the 800 most popular movies from 2007 to 2015, just 14 films included a main character with a disability
Although it may be a tad unfair to have expected Toy Story 4 to bear all the weight of this historic inequality, Duffy’s response certainly gives viewers pause for thought.
Toy Story 4 hit cinemas June 21, 2019.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.