Proposal Title

Us Weirdos Have to Stick Together: Queer Bodies in Disney’s The Owl House

Start Date

June 2022

End Date

June 2022

Abstract

The Owl House, an animated series that premiered on the Disney Channel in January 2020, follows the adventures of Dominican-American teenager Luz Noceda as she travels to the Boiling Isles and studies to become a witch. The show has been a critical success and garnered a devoted following, especially among those who appreciate the show’s positive portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters.

During the show’s second season, Luz was confirmed as bisexual, but any discrimination Luz faces on the Boiling Isles is based on her status as human rather than as LGBTQ+. So alongside other animated shows, such as Steven Universe and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, The Owl House imagines a fantastic realm that acts as a safe and accepting space in lieu of the real world. Moreover, the show transfers the traumas Luz, as a queer teenager, might face into her battles with monsters and magic so that any concerns Luz might have about her queer identity are transformed into her struggle to balance her human identity with her witchy one.

There are also several characters in Luz’s new life who inhabit unstable bodies that refuse to conform, so Luz’s journey towards self-acceptance is paralleled by similar journeys worn directly on the bodies of her demonic doubles—her inner anxieties externalized in the world around her. As such, the show provides a potent metaphor for grappling with identity, acceptance, and embodiment through metaphors of witchcraft and creates a Disney-friendly way to confront queer issues without tackling them directly.

Bio

Chera Kee is an Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies in the English Department at Wayne State University. Her research interests include horror media, adaptation, and comic books. Her book, Not Your Average Zombie: Rehumanizing the Undead from Voodoo to Zombie Walks was published by the University of Texas Press in 2017.

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Jun 25th, 1:00 PM Jun 25th, 2:30 PM

Us Weirdos Have to Stick Together: Queer Bodies in Disney’s The Owl House

The Owl House, an animated series that premiered on the Disney Channel in January 2020, follows the adventures of Dominican-American teenager Luz Noceda as she travels to the Boiling Isles and studies to become a witch. The show has been a critical success and garnered a devoted following, especially among those who appreciate the show’s positive portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters.

During the show’s second season, Luz was confirmed as bisexual, but any discrimination Luz faces on the Boiling Isles is based on her status as human rather than as LGBTQ+. So alongside other animated shows, such as Steven Universe and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, The Owl House imagines a fantastic realm that acts as a safe and accepting space in lieu of the real world. Moreover, the show transfers the traumas Luz, as a queer teenager, might face into her battles with monsters and magic so that any concerns Luz might have about her queer identity are transformed into her struggle to balance her human identity with her witchy one.

There are also several characters in Luz’s new life who inhabit unstable bodies that refuse to conform, so Luz’s journey towards self-acceptance is paralleled by similar journeys worn directly on the bodies of her demonic doubles—her inner anxieties externalized in the world around her. As such, the show provides a potent metaphor for grappling with identity, acceptance, and embodiment through metaphors of witchcraft and creates a Disney-friendly way to confront queer issues without tackling them directly.