One of the most joyous films of 2014 (and one of the most tragically under-seen, at least in the US), “Pride” was released on DVD late last month, and with it came a curious alleged marketing strategy: Taking the gay out of a movie that is about gay rights. Which is obviously no easy task.
PinkNews was the first to point out that the U.S. DVD release of “Pride” was oddly missing any references to the film’s LGBT content. Considering a film is based on the true story of LGBT activists who come together with a small mining community to battle Margaret Thatcher and company, it’s very suspicious that there’s no reference to LGBT anything in the film’s DVD synopsis. There’s also an altered image, which takes out a banner saying “lesbians & gays” (though you can still see the word “gay” on one of their shirts). Compare below:
Director Matthew Warchus has issued a statement regarding the marketing and audience for “Pride”:
“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.”
Sorry, but we can’t quite behind Warchus here. And neither can the BBC. BBC News quoted Ben Robert, director of the BFI Film Fund, as saying he’s both disappointed and… not surprised. “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,” he 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.’ “
What do you think? Also: Have you seen “Pride”? Warm your hearts, get this DVD and write “gay” in big bold letters with a Sharpie on its back cover.
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