Jack Whitehall | Photo: The Graham Norton Show
Jack Whitehall is weathering an online backlash since it was revealed he will play Disney’s first gay male character.
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The comic will appear in Jungle Cruise, based on the Magic Kingdom theme park ride found at Disney Parks worldwide.
The reportedly straight British comic will star alongside Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Emily Blunt. Whitehall will play the brother of Emily Blunt’s character.
Many consider it the first character in the Disney canon to be openly LGBTI. (Although, it was implied LeFou from last year’s Beauty and the Beast has a crush on his friend Gaston. Meanwhile Oaken in Frozen appears to be part of a two-dad family).
While many praised the move, some took issue with Whitehall – a straight, cisgendered star – taking such a high profile LGBTI role.
‘Could they seriously not pick someone actually gay?’ tweeted one cinema-goer.
Another said: ‘Scarlett Johansson walked so Jack Whitehall could run.’
— Chris Salvatore (@CSalvatore) August 12, 2018
Actor Chris Salvatore meanwhile commented: ‘Such a dam shame it’s so hard to find gay actors to play gay roles in hollywood. Do better @Disney.’
A source told The Sun that Jack’s character would be ‘hugely effete, very camp and very funny.’
On this subject a critic said: ‘I ain’t mad about a straight guy playing a gay guy, I’m mad that a straight guy is playing an old fashioned super camp comedic stereotype of a gay guy and Disney are peddling that shit as positive representation.’
Another said: ‘Straight people playing gay camp characters is offensive. Period.’
Whitehall is yet to respond to the backlash.
‘I don’t remember anybody complaining about the casting of Brokeback Mountain?’
Of the many who defended the casting, one Twitter user said: ‘Genuine question: I get that we all need to be aware about representation but why is the casting of Jack Whitehall a problem when I don’t remember anybody complaining about the casting of Brokeback Mountain, Carol, Moonlight, Call Me By Your Name, Weekend or God’s Own Country?’
Another said: ‘Could it just be that Jack Whitehall auditioned better than anyone else for the part that Disney were casting?’
Meanwhile, another argued: ‘It’s acting. Pretending to be someone else. Matt Damon isn’t an astronaut. Benedict Cumberbatch isn’t a sorcerer. The Rock isn’t a lifeguard. Jack Whitehall doesn’t need to be gay to play the part.’
Another tweeted: ‘If only there were gay actors who could play “camp” as well as Jack Whitehall.’
A representative for Whitehall has been approached by GSN for comment.
Jungle Cruise is slated for releases on 11 October 2019.
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