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'ParaNorman' Filmmakers on Outing The Gay Jock Mitch


The Advocate talks to gay writer/director Chris Butler about ParaNorman's Mitch, who is revealed as (the first) gay (character in a mainstream animated film) during the movie, which was released a few months ago.

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.

The DVD hit stores last week. Check out the trailers and a couple clips, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. "I loved that it was a punch line, but not at Mitch’s expense."

    Is there a clip or a description of what this article is supposed to be about? I don't want to rent the dvd just to find out how the "outing" was handled.

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Dec 4, 2012 8:59:41 AM

  2. Looks cute. This came out in August? I wonder why we haven't heard wingnut crazies going ballistic over a gay character in a kids film? Or maybe I've just become immune to their noise...

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Dec 4, 2012 9:03:00 AM

  3. There were a few crazies going on about it, but, while I saw and really enjoyed the film, it didn't get the crowds needed to make this a big deal. I went with a guy I'd been dating for several months and when he outed himself I was impressed.

    Posted by: Ladi | Dec 4, 2012 9:07:53 AM

  4. @dastius Just watch the movie. It's 90 minutes you won't be online being a dolt. That and it is fairly well done. Good animation, cute story, atmospheric, good-hearted and humorous. I can't stand gay people whose every waking motivation can only revolve around the homosexual aspect of the endeavor. "Oh I only watch this for the gay parts. Oh I can be bothered to read this if it's not gushing with gayness." Blech.

    Posted by: Bollux | Dec 4, 2012 9:17:01 AM

  5. @Dastius Krazitauc, I haven't seen it either but from what I understand, throughout the movie one of the female characters is mooning over the jock, trying to get him to notice her, etc. At the end she finally gets up the nerve to ask him to go with her to the movies. He says he'd love to go to the movies and he'll bring his boyfriend, who she'll really like.

    So the stock "jock" character is revealed to be gay in a very casual manner, against type.

    Posted by: Caliban | Dec 4, 2012 9:28:34 AM

  6. Caliban describes the self-outing pretty well. Sweet little movie, w/excellent animation.

    Posted by: bcarter3 | Dec 4, 2012 9:37:13 AM

  7. The reveal is fun, kinda obvious. The movie is amazing though. Fun and poignant, it also showcases how amazing and expressive 3-D printing has made modern claymation.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Dec 4, 2012 9:54:58 AM

  8. Some of you should avail yourselves of the search feature on Towleroad.

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Dec 4, 2012 9:55:38 AM

  9. Thanks, Caliban!

    @bollux who says, "I can't stand gay people whose every waking motivation can only revolve around the homosexual aspect of the endeavor."

    Boy are you in the wrong place. The article about the movie was posted here on Towleroad, a "site with homosexual tendencies" specifically because of the gay content, not because it was a "good movie".

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Dec 4, 2012 9:57:08 AM

  10. Diogenes Arktos, usually when an article is posted here that touches on something already covered on this website, that previous article is linked.

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Dec 4, 2012 9:59:59 AM

  11. @Dastius,

    Arguments aside, I thought it was a fun film. If you do get a chance, check it out.

    Posted by: GDad | Dec 4, 2012 10:00:04 AM

  12. I loved that they did that at the end of the movie, but I also have to say Paranorman was a beautiful piece of animation.

    Claymation is usually a lazy endeavor to create a childlike world, but the animators at Paranorman created a world that is just as detailed, if not more, than a live action movie or Pixar's CGI masterpieces.

    Posted by: Alexx | Dec 4, 2012 10:01:30 AM

  13. Not as rich as Coraline but an astounding technical achievement nonetheless: the only studio that has any chance of taking on Pixar at the moment. Incredible combination of stop-motion and CGI animation. The trade-off is that, yes he's gay and yes, the girl fancies the pants off him but he's also stereotypical in that he's as dumb as a bag of hammers, quite conservative (he doesn't like his bbrother hanging out with 'that weird kid', ironically) and obviously obsessed with his body (guns, protein shakes, even a reference to steroids) so he may be a gay jock but he is a JOCK first and foremost.

    Posted by: Steerpike | Dec 4, 2012 10:14:39 AM

  14. And anyone who thinks Claymation and stop-motion is lazy is talking out of their arse: it's the very definition of agonising, painstaking work.

    Posted by: Steerpike | Dec 4, 2012 10:15:50 AM

  15. Thanks, GDAD. It does look good.

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Dec 4, 2012 10:18:59 AM

  16. Mitch has very sweetly cute ears.

    Posted by: gregory brown | Dec 4, 2012 10:24:18 AM

  17. It's a lovely and funny moment, well-handled in a gorgeous and enjoyable film.

    it's a blast.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Dec 4, 2012 10:50:16 AM

  18. The film is great. Saw it with my two grandsons). We all loved it.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Dec 4, 2012 11:46:55 AM

  19. Part of why I liked it was that it explained his obliviousness to her importunations. For most of the movie, you think he's not "getting it" because he's just a stereotypical "dumb jock," but in the end, it's because he's gay and simply doesn't think that way.

    I've had the same experience. People tell me about women who have apparently been fawning all over me and it simply doesn't register because I don't think about women that way. It simply doesn't dawn on me that a woman would be engaging with me in such a friendly manner for some reason other than wanting to be friends.

    Posted by: Rrhain | Dec 4, 2012 2:01:06 PM

  20. @Dastius Krazitauc: In the six months I've been posting, I don't recognize the Towleroad you are describing.

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Dec 4, 2012 9:17:41 PM

  21. Here's the 'reveal' in two gif's, for anyone wondering about it... the movie is worth watching though, for much more than this 20 seconds

    Posted by: DavyJones | Dec 5, 2012 1:25:59 AM

  22. Wonderful. Thanks, DavyJones!

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Dec 5, 2012 9:14:20 AM

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