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ParaNorman's secret gay character angers parents

Mitch from ParaNorman
Mitch from ParaNorman
Focus Features

Parents are upset with the makers of the movie ParaNorman for their inclusion of a gay teen character in a film marketed to young children. The character, a jock named Mitch, is not identified as gay until the very end of the film, when he tells a female character about his boyfriend.

That the creative minds behind the film chose to keep the character's sexuality secret has upset many parents, who feel they should have known before taking young children to see it. The character raises the awkward situation of having to discuss sex, especially gay sex, with children who are not emotionally mature to even grasp the subject. Most reviews of the film did not mention the gay character.

The inclusion of sexual jokes and a child character with a sexual identity in the film have raised concerns whether it is appropriate. Despite the PG rating, the film is very dark, involving themes including witchcraft, death, and the occult, with critics saying it is unsuitable for children. ParaNorman kids meals were sold at Malibu Grand Prix locations, and a line of toys are available in stores including Toys R Us.

Rather than making a statement by making a child in their movie gay, the filmmakers undermine their own intentions by "sucker punching" the audience, especially by placing the reveal at the end of the film. Obviously, by making the film's lone muscle-bound jock homosexual, the writers and producers were looking to counter gay stereotypes. If so, they should have been upfront with the revelation, and allow the viewer to witness the character's progression with this insight. Instead, the last second character twist reeks of lazy screenwriting, or worse, the filmmakers felt having an openly-gay character would undermine the enjoyment of the film. They may also have been afraid of advance negative publicity undermining ticket and merchandise sales. If so, it makes the filmmakers the true homophobes.