Opening night of “Beauty and the Beast,” on March 16, 2017, comes with equal excitement and controversy. The Disney musical became a huge hit in animated form when it debuted in 1991. As Disney’s first Broadway venture, the beautiful story opened at the Palace Theater in 1999.
Setting this movie apart from the earlier versions is the “Beauty and the Beast” gay and feminist-equality controversy. Hence, a result of the movie’s portrayal of a gay character and a strong female character.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ Speaks for Gay Voices
This live action version takes on the colorfulness of the animated film mixed with the drama of the Broadway production. In addition to the beautiful effects bringing common household furnishings to life, comes those arguing that a Disney movie is no place for a gay scene nor a feminist as the lead role.
Therefore, cries from religious groups have called for a boycott of this “Beauty and the Beast” for one scene and the lead female character. About the scene, Bill Condon, the movie’s director, notes, “But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
“Beauty and the Beast” antagonist’s Gaston’s sidekick LeFou, played by Josh Gad, is the controversial character sparking international calls to prohibit the movie from being played. The subplot to the title story involves LeFou dealing with his feelings for Gaston. Especially relevant is the famed scene now known as the Gaston Clip showcased on YouTube. LeFou is seen dancing about, lustfully singing to Gaston.
On March 2, 2017, evangelist Franklin Graham added a post on Facebook encouraging people to “say no to Disney” in opposition to the movie’s gay character and a recent Disney cartoon featuring kissing by same-sex couples.
Petitions started in the boycott of “Beauty and the Beast” by groups such as One Million Moms have begun to circulate. Since, on March 3, it was reported how owners of an Alabama drive-in were refusing to show “Beauty and the Beast.”
In their, since removed, Facebook post, the theater’s owners detailed how their Christian beliefs did not coincide with the inclusion of a gay character. The movie theater owner’s detailed post received many comments. Remarks praised the decision and also chided it calling for a boycott of the show.
Due to the Graham and drive-in theater incidents, Russia and Malaysia have both protested the film’s release. Vitaly V. Milonov, a Russian lawmaker, who had yet to view the live-action “Beauty and the Beast” himself, allowed the gay controversy reported to guide his call for banning the Disney movie, citing a law that disallows the “propaganda of homosexuality.”
Consequently, Russia has now given the U.S. PG-rated production a 16+ age rating. In Malaysia, the opening of “Beauty and the Beast,” slated for March 16, has been postponed citing the need for an “internal review,” according to reports on March 13.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ Showcases a Feminist Lead
“Beauty and the Beast” gay and feminist equality controversy continue within the main plot of the film. The movie’s premise of a female being held captive and falling in love with a beastly animal-like being has produced its own controversy.
Most noteworthy is that Belle is portrayed by, known feminist, Emma Watson, a U.N. Ambassador who focuses on gender equality. As the lovely Brown graduate explains her role to Vanity Fair, “This is a new Belle.”
The character’s role has changed from the original animated “Beauty and the Beast.” Belle is no longer merely her father’s assistant in his creative endeavors. This live-action version has Watson’s female lead using tools to craft her own inventions.
Hence, when Entertainment Weekly posed the quandary of Belle caught in a Stockholm Syndrome situation, Watson thoughtfully stated her response. The star said that she did struggle with the idea when first presented with the story.
She further explained how Belle differs from someone who has the syndrome. Unlike a hostage who succumbs being captured by bonding with her captor, Belle aggressively and continuously fights Beast for her independence.
Watson takes her career seriously and fights for women’s equality and rights by bringing her fundamental beliefs to “Beauty and the Beast.” Consequently, with the leading lady’s input, this Belle is an independent, intelligent woman. She is ready to fight Beast but not unwilling to give in to feelings of tenderness.
The 26-year-old aimed to get approval for her role, from a so-called feminist. Watson called on women’s rights leader, Gloria Steinem to view the film.
After the viewing, Steinem gave her full support to the Belle versus Beast characters. Specifically, she noted how a love of literature is what first connected Belle and Beast, and how that connection continued to develop throughout the story.
Fairytales mirror real life when matters of the heart are concerned. Furthermore, love can often bring thoughts of hatred and controversy to the surface. The modern-day LeFou and Belle characters have produced debates over what is typically acknowledged as true love. Finally, regarding the “Beauty and the Beast” gay and feminist-equality controversy, affection is certainly the foundation for both, in its plot and subplot.
By Carol Ruth Weber
Edited by Cathy Milne
Attitude: World exclusive: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ set to make Disney history with gay character
YouTube: “Gaston” Clip – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Facebook: Franklin Graham
NY Daily News: Alabama drive-in theater refuses to show ‘Beauty and the Beast’ over gay character — ‘We need to take a stand’
BBC: Russia gives Beauty and the Beast a 16+ rating
The Strait Times: Beauty And The Beast release date in Malaysia postponed for ‘internal review’
Vanity Fair: Cover Story: Emma Watson, Rebel Belle
Entertainment Weekly: Beauty and the Beast: Emma Watson addresses questions over Beast relationship
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Thomas Hawk’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License