The other day we told you how the DVD cover for the film Pride was straightwashed prior to its US release on Dec. 23.
A banner saying "Lesbians & Gays Support The Miners" is missing from a version of the original promotional image that appears on the back cover of the DVD, as shown above, and "gay and lesbian" has disappeared from the description of the film.
Officially, the straightwashing remains a mystery, but the film's director, Matthew Warchus (right), who spoke to Towleroad about the film back in October, is pretty sure it was "someone in the marketing department in the US."
BBC News reports:
"Changing the cover is kind of clumsy and a bit foolish," [Warchus] told the station's Phil Williams.
"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."
Warchus added that he "didn't want to preach to the converted" and wanted the film "to find a mainstream audience [and] broaden people's minds.
"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," he went on.
"It's clumsily done but I understand it and it's a valid instinct," he continued, describing "the nature of marketing" as "over-simplification [and] reductive."
BBC News also reached out to Ben Roberts, director of the BFI film fund, which backed Pride:
"I'm not surprised that the US distributors have taken a decision to sell more copies by watering down the gay content. I'm not defending it, it's wrong and outmoded, but I'm not surprised," Roberts said.
"It's an unfortunate commercial reality both here and in the US that distributors have to deal with and consider in getting films onto the shop shelf. LGBT material is largely marginalised outside of rare hits like Brokeback Mountain."
BuzzFeed looked into the Pride DVD straighwashing but reports that neither CBS Films nor Sony Home Entertainment, which are handling the film's distribution in the US, responded to its requests for comment:
However, a source close to the situation told BuzzFeed News this was not an intentional move by CBS Films, which acquired the U.S. distribution rights for Pride in July 2014 and embraced the LGBT themes. The DVD distribution rights, however, were outsourced to Sony Home Entertainment, and the source told BuzzFeed News that CBS Films had no control over or knowledge of the alterations to the DVD boxes, and those at the studio are unclear as to who made the changes. The source said Sony and CBS Films are working together to find out who altered the language and the artwork, and why. Though the DVD isn’t being recalled, the source said the studio and Sony plan to ensure that anywhere the synopsis appears online, it is the original version and not the one on the U.S. DVD.
How hard can it be to figure out who changed the DVD cover and why? Also, did they really think no one would notice?
Did Warchus sign off on it? And why are we hearing from Warchus and Roberts instead of those responsible for the decision so they can be held accountable?
Perhaps the straightwashing shouldn't stop anyone from seeing Pride and taking in its important message, but to some extent the decision seems to undermine the very spirit of that message.
Statement from Pride Director Matthew Warchus on the DVD packaging:
"Pride is a film which plays incredibly well to a global mainstream audience of any political or sexual persuasion. It’s a film about two groups of people forming an unlikely alliance and fighting each others’ corners rather than just their own. It is probably one of the most political films ever to hit the mainstream and it is certainly one of the most loved films of the year (even by people who hate politics). I don’t consider it a ‘Gay Film’ or a ‘Straight Film’. I’m not interested in those labels. It is an honest film about compassion, tolerance, and courage. Marketing Pride has proved an interesting challenge from day one, and there are many people in the mainstream who have yet to see the film. My guess is some of those people are imagining that the film is maybe ‘too political’ for them, and some others are imagining it could possibly be ‘too gay’. As it happens, these concerns completely evaporate in the presence of the movie itself, but they are important when attempting to manage potential audience perceptions through marketing. Since the day I first read the script I have felt passionately that this film, of all films, deserves to find a fully diverse audience, from all walks of life. Indeed its very meaning and message is diminished the more ‘niche’ it becomes. I look forward to living in a world where these kinds of marketing negotiations are neither valid nor necessary – but we're not there yet. In a sense, that's why I made the film. For these reasons I don’t automatically condemn any attempt to prevent the movie being misunderstood as an exclusively “Gay Film”. I certainly don’t regard such attempts as homophobic."