Straightwashing? The original version (top) and the US version (below)
The director of an acclaimed British gay film says he “understands” why the US chose to remove all gay references from the film’s marketing material.
Pride tells the true story of a group of gay and lesbian activists in the eighties who embarked on a fundraising campaign to support striking miners in Wales.
While the film has been widely acclaimed, its DVD release in the US has been marred by controversy.
At issue are changes to the DVD cover. While the blurb was meant to refer to a “London-based group of gay and lesbian activists,” the American text has been edited to just “London-based activists.”
The cover image was also photoshopped free of gay content. The original version shows Pride protesters holding up a banner that includes the words “lesbians and gays,” but in the US the banner has been removed.
Someone who rents or buys the DVD in the US could have no idea that they will be watching a gay themed film.
Pride’s director Matthew Warchus spoke to BBC Radio 5’s Phil Williams about the furore, commenting that, “I think someone in the marketing department in the US used their marketing judgement to try to remove any barrier to the widest possible audience.
“It’s clumsily done but I understand it and it’s a valid instinct,” he stated.
Warchus explained that, “Changing the cover is kind of clumsy and a bit foolish, but this is a film that is loved by people of all political persuasions and sexual orientations. I’m just keen for as many people who have yet to see the film to see it.”
He added that he “didn’t want to preach to the converted.”
Pride, which won the Queer Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival and best film at the British Independent Film Awards, was earlier controversially rated “R” in the US; only allowing someone under the age of 17 to see the film if accompanied by an adult.
British LGBT activist Peter Tatchell commented at the time: “There’s no significant sex or violence in Pride to justify strong ratings. The American classification board seems to automatically view any film with even the mildest gay content as unfit for people under 17.”
Pride is released in South African cinemas on 16 January.