Disney’s TikTok filters highlight its incredibly flawed LGBTQ+ representation


Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Television, Flickr.


The text-to-speech feature on TikTok has become such an integral feature on the app. I personally cannot think of a video on my feed that does not utilize this feature. Recently, Disney has released the option for users to have some popular Disney characters be the voice of the text-to-speech feature on the app.

Characters such as Rocket the Racoon from “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Lilo from “Lilo and Stitch,” C-3PO from “Star Wars” and more were programmed into this new feature.

But this feature has invoked some criticism because there are a handful of words that were censored by Disney. Meaning that the character’s voices do not have the ability to say these words.

These words include “gay”, “lesbian”, and “queer.” Criticism of this odd censorship caused it to be reverted, so now these characters have the ability to say these words.

Why were they censored in the first place? The major corporation seems to have been making strides in their representation of the LGBTQ+ community in the parks and in their media, but is this a step back for the company?

It would be understandable if these characters had just been programmed to not say curse words or other language that would be inappropriate for a beloved character to say. But words like  “gay,” “lesbian” and “queer” are not inappropriate words.

I cannot help but question the motive behind this. Could the motive be a positive one where Disney did not want the characters to use these words in a hateful manner? I truly hope that this is the case.

However, the more cynical side of me believes that the reason for this is to not cause any sort of controversy with people of a more conservative persuasion, which is a method I do not agree with at all.

It seems like it is common for companies to try and stay as neutral as possible in anything political. But the LGBTQ+ community is not some political ploy, it is a loving community that accepts everyone for who they are, all for the purpose of loving who you love and being who you want to be.

Disney has an influence over so many people. People of every background, religion, sexuality and even political stance have had some sort of interaction with Disney. If there was a company that could use its influence to promote representation it would be Disney.

Disney has made major strides in recent years with its wide array of merchandise that is sold during Pride Month, which is not that triumphant for the company, but in comparison to other major corporations, this is a lot.

Disney and Pixar also have made short films that depict LGBTQ+ characters, such as “Out” which follows a young gay man who is yet to come out to his parents. This was a major step forward for the company that was previously known for its lack of representation.

There hasn’t been any word from Disney or TikTok about this strange censorship, but the problem was fixed not long after the feature was unveiled. This is a good thing, but it does not erase the fact that those words were blocked.

I can only hope that this was done to block people from using terms like “gay”, “lesbian” and “queer” in a hateful manner, but it is hard to imagine that this would be the case. And, although it has been fixed, it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of people who noticed that these words were censored.