Sunday, August 6, 2017

Before we review Descendants 2, let's discuss the Harry Hook problem

So, in our last review (which as of the typing of this sentence was literally just minutes ago) I wrote an entire blog post in reply to a comment left on our Criminal Minds mini-review by Shipping Wars are Stupid, who happens to pretty much be MVP of our "readerati" (as some blogs like to call them). I follow Shipping Wars are Stupid on Twitter - out of respect for him I'm not going to link back to it and leave it up to him - but I will say his Twitter feed is a great source for sports news and LGBTQ+ topics (you'll also recall he wrote the entirety of our article commemorating "The Puppy Episode" of The Ellen Show where Ellen's character comes out as gay). 

So why am I mentioning him at all when talking about Harry Hook? Well, again, his Twitter feed is a great source for LGBTQ+ topical news, and I like to think I learned a lot from it. Which is why I feel qualified in saying this:

I have seen zero evidence suggesting that Harry Hook is a legitimate LGBTQ+ character. In fact I have seen zero evidence suggesting he is doing anything other than just ripping off Jack Sparrow, because since the first POTC movie Disney feels literally every pirate has to be Jack Sparrow now.

Now if Harry is actually making out with other guys that obviously changes, but there's nothing in his behavior that suggests he is an LGBTQ+ character.

Now in order to understand why I feel that, we really need to understand how LGBTQ+ people and gay men in particular act in real life. So, how do gay men act like in real life? Well...they act exactly the same as heterosexual men except that they date other gay men.

There is nothing inherent in Harry Hook's behavior or action that denotes an LGBTQ+ character.

Harry acts flamboyant, I'll give you that. Flamboyancy is not an indicator of a person being straight or gay. It's a neutral trait. A behavior he happens to have.

Behaviors are traits that people learn throughout their lives, whether by deliberate or unintentional outside influence. Being on the LGBTQ+ spectrum is not a learned trait, it is a trait that is developed from birth and cannot be "corrected." And just for the record, being on the LGBTQ+ spectrum is itself a neutral trait; it's not a neuroticy, it's not a disease. While being on the LGBTQ+ certainly contributes to the definition of a person, it remains a neutral trait nonetheless - like a person's skin color or genetic ethnicity.

Harry Hook exhibits behaviors. And until he actually seriously macks on, I dunno, say Jay or Carlos the amount of actual bearing on the LGBTQ+ spectrum he's exhibited is exactly zero. Hell, it's just as accurate to say that he's shown zero evidence of being heterosexual, for that matter.

But I feel that equating certain behaviors and mannerisms to homosexuality (or heterosexuaity) is highly offensive and calls back to the "dark days" of cinema before and during the McCarthy Blacklisting era when random behavioral traits were randomly (and insanely) attributed to other, more inherent traits and then having all of the above lumped together to define an "abnormality" that was also automatically equated with a greater tendency to commit crimes and other depravity, not to mention spiritual damnation. That's not something I'm very fond of, and I for one like to think that we as a society can move on from associating certain learned or even voluntary behavioral traits with neutral, innate traits like being on the LGBTQ+ spectrum (or for that matter, skin color or genetic ethnicity).

Ummm...I was expecting to write a lot more but...actually I think that just about covers it. Well, maybe someone like Shipping Wars are Stupid (or another reader) can help me fill in the gaps if I've left any.


  1. Shipping Wars Are StupidAugust 7, 2017 at 5:16 AM

    This is the first I've heard of this character being gay, as I no longer watch Disney Channel frequently.

    However, if a character is flamboyant, it is easy to assume he's gay, but it also seems lazy. I've known flamboyant gay men and I've known rather quiet and serious gay men.

    IIRC, the Descendant movies are based off a book so maybe there's something in there. But this is still Disney Channel and I can't see them putting in a gay character in a major money maker just yet. I would love to see it happen though.

    My sources have told me that there is going to be a family with two moms on Doc McStuffins. Meh, I'm not going to watch it.

    Keep an eye on Andi Mack. I don't watch it but I've heard that it's implied that one of the male characters is gay.

    1. First of all I'm glad my extensive response didn't chase you off :) Of course that's just about the very last thing I want to do since I really do mean it when I say you're probably our best follower (along with Spongey below, of course!) and I'm glad I did word my response in the relatively "strong defense but neutral address" way I intended. But anyway...yeah, I agree with you pretty much. Actually just today (yeah late response I know) I just met a man who acts pretty much like Harry Hook/Jack Sparrow - oh, and I also met his girlfriend.

      Obviously I'm not opposed to them having LGBTQ+ characters in Descendants 2 or anything else, but I would like to see it done in a realistic, respectful and dignified way. The Doc McStuffins episode you mentioned might be it, but they actually seem to be downplaying the same-sex couple angle, as strange as it may seem. I have the episode on my DVR, I'll look at it.

      I'm hoping they're going to reveal that Raven Baxter is gay - really at this point it just makes too much sense.

  2. I hadn't heard of this until recently but i think he was gay in one of those die in one of those tie in books, but i could be wrong as i haven't looked deep into it.

    To be honest, that border-line (?) romantic Mal/Evie duet is gay enough to make up for Harry possibly not being gay,.

    1. Unfortunately the tie-in books seem to have been retconned into invalidation with Descendants 2 here :( Which is sad because I've actually met the author of those books, Jessica Brody, and I really like her non-Disney stuff (she's a local area author to Colorado!)

      And I really need to go back and see that duet now.


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