In 1935, the Fox Film Corporation (founded by producer William Fox in 1915) merged with Twentieth Century Pictures (founded in 1933) to form 20th Century Fox. It was in the mid-1980s that Rupert Murdoch bought out the studio, making it a subsidiary of News Corporation, and now 21st Century Fox. Among Fox’s most famous films are early blockbuster franchises like Star Wars, Alien, and Die Hard.
Aside from Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox has one of the slightest track records when it comes to inclusive films, but it includes a few standouts in its repertoire. Myra Breckinridge (1970) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) contain some of the earliest significant transgender characters, though both depictions are arguably more sensationalized than truthful. In 1982 the studio released the drama Making Love, which was one of the first (and only) realistically depicted gay love stories ever made by a major studio. Other inclusive films they’ve released over the years include Silkwood (1983), The Object of My Affection (1998), and The Family Stone (2005).
The political corruption drama Broken City gets off to a shaky start, with the film’s private eye protagonist expressing discomfort at his girlfriend’s “metrosexual” friends, his receptionist angrily calling someone a “cross-dresser,” and the (evil) mayor and his accomplice throwing the word “f*g” around during a squash game, all in the first 30 minutes. Taggart (the private eye) is assigned to follow the mayor’s wife, who is suspected of infidelity. Shortly after she’s shown giving a speech celebrating the passage of state marriage equality at a Human Rights Campaign event, Taggart sees her with Paul, the campaign manager of her husband’s political rival. Following Paul’s murder, however, both Taggart and the audience learn that Paul was not having an affair with the mayor’s wife as suspected, but with the male mayoral candidate he was helping to get elected. The reveal is quite subtle, but also crucial to the film’s plot. The unfortunately martyred Paul is also perhaps the closest thing the film has to a moral center.
SUBSIDIARY: FOX SEARCHLIGHT
Fox Searchlight Pictures, created in 1994, is a subsidiary of 20th Century Fox that specializes in the release and distribution of independent and foreign films in the United States as well as horror films and dramedies. Fox Searchlight Pictures is responsible for the release of several LGBT-inclusive and Academy Award-winning and nominated films, including Boys Don’t Cry (1999), about the murder of transgender man Brandon Teena, and Kinsey (2004), a biopic of the famed sex researcher. Last year they released the romantic comedy Baggage Claim about a flight attendant looking for the man of her dreams with the help of her gay friend and fellow flight attendant Sam.
Some outlets have described Malkina, Cameron Diaz’s character in The Counselor, as bisexual, though the film does little more than tease this as a possibility. Malkina is the girlfriend of a drug kingpin, and in one scene caresses another female character while they lay by a pool, but it appears to be an attempt to make the other woman uncomfortable. Upon review, there ultimately wasn’t enough content in the film to identify this character as bisexual, which is probably for the better. Since she’s a duplicitous, murderous sociopath, Malkina certainly wouldn’t do anything to improve on defamatory stereotypes of bisexual people that have long permeated popular culture.
Last year, Fox had no LGBT characters whatsoever in its releases, so the two characters that appear in Broken City are an improvement. Compared to many other studio releases, these characters are also well conceived and woven into the film’s plot, though we do wish their being gay wasn’t treated with such “blink and you’ll miss it” subtlety. Still, this definitely counts as progress, and we hope Fox keeps moving in the right direction.