In recent years, Disney and Pixar have made great efforts to include non-Europeans and sexual minorities in their films. For the first time, the new Elemental features a so-called “non-binary” character – and the voice actor playing the role does not identify as male or female.
Elemental premieres in Sweden on July 7 and is set in a city inhabited by earth, wind, fire or water elemental figures. The film focuses on the fire elemental Ember and her newfound friend, the water elemental Wade. The main theme throughout is that ethnocentrism, discrimination and prejudice are negative – and that ‘magic can happen between opposites’.
Notably, Wade has a younger sibling named Lake, who identifies as “non-binary” and uses they and them as pronouns. The character is voice acted by Ava Hauser, who herself identifies as something other than male or female.
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT I got to play Pixar's first nonbinary character! Meet Lake!
I voice Lake in the new movie #Elemental! I'm seeing it in theaters tonight with my friends, so you can catch it in theaters too if you wanna see them. 💙 pic.twitter.com/6kBPGvCATE
— 🛸 Kai Ava Hauser 🛸 (@JustAVoiceActor) June 16, 2023
“BIG ANNOUNCEMENT I got to play Pixar’s first nonbinary character! Meet Lake! I voice Lake in the new movie #Elemental! declares the actor on Twitter and is accompanied by the film’s animator Alyssa Ragni, who announces that she too is “non-binary”.
“To any of my non-binary mutuals, happy pride month, Pixar made a character for y’all in their new movie, Elemental. It makes sense to have a water character be non-binary cuz they’re fluid, they can be whatever they want, be able to change any part of themselves”, comments another twitter user.
The film studio has announced that it is investing significant resources in becoming more ‘inclusive’ and increasing its focus on the representation of what it considers to be marginalized groups. In addition to a very large number of films dominated by non-European characters, they have also released films with overweight heroines and LGBTQ main characters.
However, not everyone is happy that Disney/Pixar has repeatedly taken a clear position on identity politics. Critics argue that the company is trying to shove a political agenda down the throats of its audience, which is largely made up of impressionable children and young people.
It can also be noted that despite, or because of, the politically correct efforts, Elemental has so far performed extremely poorly in the US and has already been described as one of Pixar’s biggest flops ever.
The names reproduced above are from the original English-language version and are usually changed in the Swedish dubbing.
'Non-binary' is a term related to the postmodernist notion of a gender identification as something other than male or female.