Call Me By Your Name is the coming-of-age story about 17-year-old Elio, who enters into a passionate romance with his father’s research assistant, 24-year-old Oliver. Sony feverishly promoted the film ahead of its November 24th theatrical release, but stumbled, publicly and problematically, on November 7th. That’s when Sony U.K. tweeted out a “straight-washed” poster for Call Me By Your Name.
The tweet has since been removed from Sony U.K.’s Twitter account. It was a snapshot from a scene in which Elio and his female friend Marzia are engaged in a seemingly flirtatious conversation. Written below the image is a blurb about the film, from Empire, that reads,
The blurb, when paired with this image, paints the picture that Elio and Marzia are the film’s two romantic leads. Although the two characters supposedly have a fling, Call Me By Your Name is centered around Elio and Oliver’s same-sex romance.
One Twitter user saved a screenshot of Sony U.K.’s tweet and compared it to the promotional images that surfaced during Brokeback Mountain’s release. Such images similarly showed the two gay male romantic leads engaging in heterosexual relationships.
Whether Sony purposely released the straight-washed poster in order to draw in a larger audience or not, the tweet in question is a form of false advertising. It plays into the problematic narrative that a film about a gay relationship is not attractive to straight audiences and is therefore less worthy of acclaim.
Unfortunately, many films with gay plot lines — such as Moonlight — are marketed so that queerness is not front and center, with the fear being that straight people will not watch a queer film. But that’s an outdated way of thinking. The reality is that the LGBTQ+ community has been forced to watch a majority of heterosexual relationships onscreen for decades.
Call Me By Your Name is a beautiful, simple film about romance, passion, and the incredible bond between two people. It deserves all the recognition it’s getting and will stir up emotion in anyone — gay or straight — who watches.