Responding to accusations of homophobia, and increasing media attention, Universal Studios Hollywood has canceled its Bill and Ted Halloween Horror Nights show, which featured a Man of Steel transformed into a mincing gay stereotype.
Part of the theme park's annual Halloween event, Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure was a play in which the title characters are transported to the Land of Oz filled with references to sex and popular culture. According to Vice.com, Bill and Ted are joined in their quest to kill four evil witches by Superman, who's turned gay after being accidentally sprinkled with fairy dust.
"After becoming gay, Superman's voice and posture changes," writes Vice's Jamie Lee Curtis Taete. "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!'"
The depiction apparently goes downhill from there, with the Man of Steel groping his companions and blowing them kisses, and "mistaking" the intentions of General Zod's order to get on his knees before running off with a lisping Mr. Sulu/"George Takei" to have sex off-stage. According to the website, the production also wades into offensive racial territory with portrayals of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and rapper/singer Nicki Minaj.
After other outlets began to pick up on the Vice report, a Universal Studios spokeswoman told The Advocate on Monday that Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure "is specifically intended to be shocking and satirical in tone, focusing on adult themes. The show lampoons across all areas of our culture and it was not our intention to offend or upset anyone. We know there are a range of opinions on this issue and we will respect them as we consistently review and refine the show's content."
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation reached out to the theme park's parent company NBCUniversal, stating on Tuesday that "this type of content should be removed."
By the following day, Universal had pulled the plug on the show entirely, announcing on its website, "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."
GLAAD National Spokesperson Wilson Cruz responded to the move, saying, "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. This decision falls in line with NBCUniversal's history of including groundbreaking and positive depictions of LGBT people across its brands."
The Bill & Ted show was announced in July as part of a Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Hollywood and Universal Orlando that includes a maze inspired by the third season of The Walking Dead. The limited-run event began Sept. 20 and continues through November, only without Bill & Ted.