ParaNorman’s Mitch: The First Family-Friendly Gay Animated Character
“It was important to us. We were telling a story that was fundamentally about intolerance. We believed that it was important to have the strength of our convictions. And yes, we played it off as a punch line to a joke. But in a sense, that made it all the more potent, I think, because Mitch is just an ordinary guy — and what I wanted to do with the script throughout the story was, first of all, to turn preconceptions on their head. But also, every character in the movie is judging someone else, good and bad, usually misjudging, and I wanted to make the audience complicit in that 18.”
ParaNorman is revolutionary, not just because it makes the unspoken official – Gay characters can exist…Look there he is – but because it reflects our changing social values. Mitch shows that American animated films can have a wider variety of narratives and protagonists and still be embraced by the majority of mainstream audiences.Footnotes:
1 All American (or American coproduced) animated theatrical releases that were released to at least 500 theaters and were primarily animated (there could be live action scenes, but focus was on animated characters in an animated world) from 1992-2012.
Beck, Jerry. The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago: Chicago Review, 2005. Print.
2 Dick, Kirby. This Film Is Not yet Rated. Toronto, Ont.: Distributed in Canada by Mongrel Media, 2006.
4 Russo, Vito. The Celluloid Closet. New York: Harper & Row, 1981. 226. Print
Ashley Woods, a native Oregonian, has a degree in Digital Arts from the University of Oregon. Growing up during the creator-driven renaissance of the nineties led to her love of animation. She writes about censorship and sexuality in children's animation in her blog series Cartoon Closet - http://woodsanimation.blogspot.com/p/cartoon-closet.html