The ‘straight-washing’ of British movie Pride in the US could be a success if it means more people see the film, claim the University of Manchester’s LGBTQ society leaders.
The US DVD release of Pride sparked outrage after all references to homosexuality were removed from its cover for audiences across the pond.
The 2013 film, which follows a group of lesbians and gays campaigning with Welsh miners to stop pit closures in England, refers to the protagonists as ‘London based activists’ rather than ‘a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists’.
Will Whyler, Chair of the University of Manchester’s LGBTQ society, told MM: “While obviously it’s disappointing that the North American distributors felt the need to market the film in this way, we can sympathise with the director.
“Reaching a wide audience is ultimately more important than what the marketing looks like.
“It’s actually refreshing to see someone take such a pragmatic approach to such a situation.
“All too often LGBTQ gets too wrapped up in little details when there is much bigger fish to fry, such as LGBTQ homelessness and suicide rates.”
The banner on the DVD cover, which reads ‘Lesbians and gays support the miners’ on UK promotional material, was digitally removed in the US.
The synopsis was also absent because it mentions the film’s focal theme of homosexuality.
Le jeu des 7 erreurs: toutes les références à l’homosexualité ont été effacées de la couverture US du DVD de “Pride”. pic.twitter.com/ZemAviZXtI
— Romain Burrel (@RomainBurrel) January 3, 2015
Lee Grimshaw, Secretary of the University of Manchester’s LGBTQ society, said: “We think the only people who’ll be upset that the film would have major LGBTQ themes are people who hold bigoted opinions anyway.
“If the lack of explicitly LGBTQ people and ideas in the marketing means that they get exposed to the film and open their minds a bit more, then in our opinion, the film is a success.
“If it really bothers them that much, they can always just turn it off.”
Manchester Pride director Matthew Warchus has said that he ‘understands’ why the film’s US marketing strategy is the way it is.
“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,” Warchus told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“It’s clumsily done but I understand it and it’s a valid instinct.”
He continued to say that he ‘didn’t want to preach to the converted’ and wanted the film ‘to find a mainstream audience [and] broaden people’s minds’.
Warchus added: “I’m just keen for as many people who have yet to see the film to see it.”
Pride wasn’t a knockout at the box office but was commended by critics and has won awards including best film at the British Independent Film Awards in December, as well as being nominated for best comedy or musical film at the Golden Globes.