Back in August, ParaNorman came out and introduced with it (SPOILERS, sorta: it’s a three-month-old movie, so gauge accordingly) the first gay character in a children’s animated movie. The character wasn’t at all stereotypical, his sexuality was handled with tact and humour, and other than a small handful of vocal buttholes, no one really seemed to mind all that much.
To commemorate the DVD release of ParaNorman, writer/director Chris Butler and co-creator Sam Fell sat down with The Advocate to talk about how they subtly slipped in a gay character, how it related to the overall message of not judging people, and zombies. Because everything is better with zombies.
The Advocate: I believe that ParaNorman is the first mainstream animated film with a main character who is gay. I loved that it was a punch line, but not at Mitch’s expense.
Butler: Yes, I believe it is. 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. You think you know that a zombie is going to want to eat your brain, you think that this dumb jock is straight. Actually, you don’t know everything just by looking at them. That was important to me. And also, I thought it was a funny joke.
Which is all fine and good, but we need to talk about something here: they sculpted Mitch’s butt, and it is . . . yeah. I’m not sure how to feel about this, but I feel feelings. I’m just going to leave this here.