Daniels Took A Hard Stance On The LGBTQ+ Plotline In Everything Everywhere All At Once

"Everything Everywhere All at Once" is a lot of things, but most of all, it's a work of clear, uncompromising vision from filmmaking duo Daniels (aka Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert). In the film, Michelle Yeoh's character Evelyn Wang, a Chinese-American laundromat owner, has a hard time accepting the fact that her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), is a lesbian (this is before and during the action-packed adventure through the multiverse that powers the film's plot). She outwardly pretends to be okay with Joy's girlfriend, played by Tallie Medel, but she still tries to prevent her from meeting the family patriarch (James Hong) out of a sense of shame. 

In an interview with IndieWire, Kwan and Scheinert explained that they refused to budge when it came to international distribution and the possibility of removing Joy's sexuality from the movie. Her sexuality stayed, even if that meant they wouldn't be able to get distribution in China, where censorship laws frequently remove depictions of homosexuality, rebellion, and more.

'The movie doesn't work without it'

Daniels also directed the cheekily queer "Swiss Army Man," though that film's gay subtext stays pretty low-key. "Everything Everywhere All at Once," by contrast, is a celebration of queer identities that is encapsulated in Joy's story. Scheinert explained the importance of keeping Joy's sexuality uncut, even if it meant not securing Chinese distribution:

"It's not up to us if the movie is released in China, but all we said was that you can't cut the gay storyline. That's all we've said to foreign distribution people. [...] If they had to censor other stuff, and we got a gay story out there, we'd be so thrilled."

Kwan echoed his sentiments, explaining that the movie just "doesn't work without it." Joy's sexuality is important to the plot, and it's a vital piece representation. Chinese filmmaker Chloé Zhao made a similar decision when faced with having to change the sexuality of Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) in Marvel's "Eternals." She refused to let the character be cut or changed, and as a result, the movie never saw a Chinese theatrical release.

While it's frustrating that countries censor art and stifle human expression, it is great to see the artists themselves taking a stand against it, even if it means making less money or having lower box office numbers. LGBTQ+ people's lives are important and our stories are worth sharing, and no amount of censorship will ever change that. 

"Everything Everywhere All at Once" is now playing in theaters nationwide.