The National Council of Churches Singapore (NCCS) issued a full-throated denunciation of the live-action Beauty And The Beast movie on March 14, as it contains a “gay moment”.
However, in trying to make their statement sound more intellectual, NCCS misquoted a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor by omitting a crucial word from his quote and changing the context of his remark regarding children being exposed to positively portrayed gay characters in the media, which can make them less prejudicial.
Worse, the NCCS misspelt the professor’s name.
Here’s the comparison
From NCCS statement:
Studies have shown that watching LGBT characters in popular entertainment may not only result in greater acceptance of these groups but also the lifestyles they have adopted.
According to Edward Shiappa, a professor of comparative media studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘There is no doubt that kids seeing the positively gay characters could have a significant effect that would contribute to such children’s learning about the world and who is in it’.
However, the original quote by the professor reads differently when located in the proper context.
This is so as the word “portrayed” is used, making the full phrase “positively portrayed gay characters” instead.
The original, from The Washington Post, May 11, 2016:
Some Disney fans argued on Twitter that it would have been a huge help for them to see gay characters in movies when they were young — that they might have become more sensitive and accepting towards gay peers, or better able to grapple with their own sexuality. Studies have suggested that seeing gay characters in popular entertainment can decrease prejudice towards those groups.
“There is no doubt that kids seeing positively portrayed gay characters could have a significant effect that would contribute to such children’s learning about the world and who is in it,” said Edward Schiappa, a professor of comparative media studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Moreover, NCCS misspelt “Schiappa” as “Shiappa”.
Out of context
The absence of the word “portrayed” is not a matter of mere semantics.
An example: A positively gay character on screen is one that can be seen carrying out a positively gay act, such as engaging in intercourse with someone of the same sex.
A positively portrayed gay character, on the other hand, is one who is seen to possess the correct values of a good person, such as being helpful and empathetic — values that one’s sexual orientation has no bearing upon.
The original context also said that children are made less prejudicial against gays and not exactly about accepting the homosexual lifestyle as asserted in the statement by the NCCS.
Whether the misquotation is deliberate is not known.