A Bill and Ted Halloween show has been cancelled over complaints that it reinforced homophobic stereotypes by depicting Superman “turned gay” after being sprinkled with fairy dust.
The show, which screens annually at the Universal Studios theme park in Los Angeles, was criticised by bloggers and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), a gay rights watchdog. It centred on the characters Bill Preston and Ted Logan, portrayed by Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves in 1989’s Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and again in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey two years later.
GLAAD, which labelled the show “anti-gay” on its website, praised the decision. “NBCUniversal has taken quick and strong action regarding this matter and also started a productive dialogue around future ‘Bill & Ted’ programming to ensure that all park visitors can have an enjoyable experience,” spokesperson Wilson Cruz said. “This decision falls in line with NBCUniversal’s history of including groundbreaking and positive depictions of LGBT people across its brands.”
Vice blogger Jamie Lee Curtis Taete was among the first to highlight the bizarre nature of the Halloween show, in which Bill and Ted embarked on a pop culture reference-ridden trip to the Land of Oz, with their return home dependent on killing four witches.
“Superman joins Bill and Ted on their witch-killing quest,” wrote Taete in a highly critical review which has been cited as a major factor in the show’s cancellation. “Bill and Ted are pretty psyched about that because, y’know, he’s Superman and he’s really useful to have on your side in a battle against evil witches. But then, uh oh, a witch accidentally sprinkles Superman with fairy dust, turning him gay.
“After becoming gay, Superman’s voice and posture changes. His lips purse, his toes point inward, and his wrists become limp. His new voice sounds like a homophobic uncle doing a drunken impression of Richard Simmons, complete with lisps and frequent use of the word ‘Faaaaaaabulous!’
“Bill and Ted, understandably, are bummed. Their initial excitement at having Superman with them on their quest turns to disappointment as, obviously, now that Superman is gay, he is not going to be of any use to them. Then, because Superman is now gay, he minces over to Bill and Ted, blows kisses at them, and slaps Ted on the ass. As he does this, Bill and Ted say ‘Awwww dude!’ with disgusted voices.
“After a few more attempts at molesting Bill and Ted, Superman ends up aboard the Starship Enterprise, where he runs into Superman villain General Zod. General Zod tells Superman to get on his knees. Because Superman is now gay, he assumes this is an invitation to give Zod oral sex. ‘Finally!’ he squeals.”
A statement issued by the theme park said: “After thoughtful consideration, Universal Studios Hollywood has made the decision to discontinue production of the Halloween Horror Nights’ ‘Bill & Ted’ show for the remainder of its limited run.”