Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Happy Feet Two & Homosexuality in the Animal Kingdom
One thing I didn't expect when I sat down in the cinema, however, was that Happy Feet Two would become the first mainstream animated film to feature an openly gay character. The only other one I can think of is The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, and yet even that didn't feel as blatantly open as Miller's toe-tapping adventure flick. I may be stretching the term "openly gay", but I find it hard to believe that anybody could deny the character of "Bill the Krill" is another other than a homosexual who is in love with his best friend, "Will the Krill". As voiced by Matt Damon, Bill not only expresses his desire to spend all of his time with Will (the voice of Brad Pitt), but suggests they adopt baby krill together. There's even a moment where Will, when he allows Bill to join him on his quest (a secondary plot strand to Happy Feet Two's narrative in the vein of, but much funnier than, Scrat in the Ice Age films), he tells Will "no hanky panky". Will - the alpha male in their little (ahem, pun unintended), special bromance - is clearly aware of his friend's preference and no real issue with it. Bill even sing's Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go". Hello!
I feel like I'm entering a rabbit's warren of make believe and fantasy, but I genuinely believe that George Miller is the sort of filmmaker who would very deliberately, and consciously, make an otherwise unnecessary subplot of his big budget animated film into a much larger portrait of a social issue he has a desire to explore. Will's desire to separate from the swarm seems, to me, to be a clear sign of his curiosity and desire to explore the world outside of the standardised norms that society has placed on him. He has many experiences - let's just say he ends up in a lot of foreign mouths - but eventually returns home to be with Bill and together they prove that one person can make a difference and an army can change the world. That they enact this by celebrating en masse in a sea of dancing and neon light is just beautifully-animated gravy. A gay nightclub for krill under the sea is not something you're ever likely to find in a Pixar or Dreamworks production, that's for sure.
Happy Feet Two is currently in release in America - sadly flopping, which has resulted in hundreds of people losing their job [EDIT: please read the comment section regarding this bit of information as it seems it is being misreported] - but is out (literally and figuratively) in Australia on Boxing Day. Am I alone in seeing the very obvious gay tones of this movie?