Elemental actor targeted by bigots after starring as Pixar’s first non-binary character

Pixar Elemental

Pixar is making waves with its groundbreaking non-binary character in new film Elemental – but positive reactions have been drowned out by a wave of bigotry.

Set in a city inhabited by ‘elementals’ – residents made of either water, fire, air or earth – Pixar’s new film Elemental brings family and friends together for an animated caper that expertly blends emotion and humour with much-needed representation.

Elemental follows the story of Ember and Wade, a “fiery young woman and a more go-with-the-flow guy”, who “discover something elemental” over the course of the film, which explores wider themes of immigration, family and finding unity over difference.

Somewhere in all that trademark Pixar zaniness, appeared the animation company’s first ever non-binary character, in the form of water element and Wade’s younger sibling, Lake Ripple.

It’s wonderful to see Pixar’s first explicitly non-binary character – and Lake’s voice actor, the similarly non-binary 22-year-old Kai Hauser, thinks so too.

Hauser took to Twitter on Friday (16 June) to announce their groundbreaking role, writing: “I got to play Pixar’s first non-binary character! Meet Lake!”

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Despite the film’s sub-par opening (marking Pixar’s worst box office debut of all time, according to the Hollywood Reporter), the character of Lake was warmly received by many Twitter users.

“Had no idea Lake was Trans non-binary – so cool!” one wrote. “Pixar movies always make me feel comfortable and cozy and now #Elemental just became extra comfortable and cozy!”

Other fans have called the character’s inclusion “inspiring” and “amazing”, with one adding: “This is a massive W (win) for everybody.”

That hasn’t stopped bigots making their feelings known, however, and Hauser has become the target for a hateful anti-LGBTQ+ backlash.

Disney Pixar‘s latest film Elemental has a non-binary character who has a girlfriend and uses they/them pronouns. They just can’t stop shoving this down kids’ throats can they?” one irrationally angry Twitter user wrote, before claiming that the “animators were smoking crack” in designing Lake.

Another told Pixar to “go back to entertaining instead of indoctrinating”.

Others have jokingly referenced previous Pixar characters that they perceive as non-binary, including the mix and match toys from Toy Story, and several other critics have pointed out the irony of Pixar’s “first non-binary character” being water.

The film’s director, Peter Sohn, also posted a personal message on Twitter, addressing some of the film’s themes and inspirations of community and acceptance.

“I’m the child of immigrants … like our main character Ember, I felt this intense calling to honour my family and their sacrifices,” Sohn wrote.

Elemental is a love letter to my parents – thanking them for building such a supportive foundation for my brother and I.”

Elemental is also the first non-franchise Pixar original feature to be released in theatres rather than straight to Disney+ since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pixar’ss next film, Elio, is set for release in March 2024. It’s a sci-fi adventure about a boy who gets abducted by aliens and convinces them he’s the ambassador for Earth.

Elemental is playing in movie theatres now.

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