Critics have slammed James Corden’s portrayal of a gay man in Netflix’s big budget movie musical The Prom for being “gross and offensive”.
The film, directed by Glee mastermind Ryan Murphy, follows the journey of Emma — a young high school girl from a small town in America who is banned from attending her prom because she is gay.
But not even Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman’s performances could save the film from being panned and labelled tone-deaf.
Critics, activists and fans who were given a sneak peak of the film — that comes out on December 11 in Australia — took issue with the straight Corden being cast as gay Broadway star Barry Glickman, calling it “one of the worst film performances of the 21st century”.
Corden’s character in the film ironically steps in to help Emma break down barriers in her small town, after his Broadway musical with Streep flops.
Awards Watch founder Erik Anderson said Corden’s performance was “the worst gayface in a long, long time”.
“It’s horrifically bad,” he wrote.
One user wrote “it’s too bad they couldn’t find a queer person who could sing and dance and avoid this whole cishet (sic) playing into gay stereotypes fiasco”.
The film includes appearances from Ariana Grande, Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key and Awkwafina.
It’s a debate that has taken centre stage in Australia after Hugh Sheridan’s upcoming musical was cancelled recently, in the wake of transgender activists calling out his casting.
The Queer Artist Alliance Australia wrote an open letter to the producers of the musical, calling the casting of Sheridan in a trans role “damaging”.
“The choice to cast a cis-gender male as a transgender character is offensive and damaging to the trans community,” the letter read.
“(It) continues to cause genuine stress and frustration amongst trans and gender non conforming performers all across Australia.”
Earlier last week Kristen Stewart — who is bisexual — said she would “never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who’s lived that experience”.
Stewart made her comments while promoting her upcoming Christmas movie Happiest Season — whose plot line also centres around the controversy of a young gay woman as she wrestles with introducing her girlfriend to her family at Christmas time.
“It’s a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I’m going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law,” Stewart said.
The 30-year-old Twilight star said the key to nailing a straight to gay, or vice versa, performance was to have your “finger on the pulse and actually care”.
“I mean, if you are telling a story about a community and they’re not welcoming to you, then f… off,” she said.