I’ve heard a lot of varying reactions to Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast remake. I’m talking, thoughts that are so radically different they span the range of, “It was so beautiful that I cried,” to “It is evil and terrible.” Well, most of the evil-callers had not actually seen the movie and were just appalled at the supposed celebration of homosexuality it contained. There was even a movement to boycott the movie (complete with a petition) when it was in theaters, and a couple of foreign countries decided to ban the film over the matter.
Now that the movie is on Netflix, I decided to see for myself.
I have to say, controversy aside, I did enjoy the movie more than I predicted I would.
It’s extremely similar to the animated version, but with a couple new musical numbers (most of which felt pretty unneeded). What I felt was the strongest addition, though, was more development to the characters and the love story.
I’ve heard this version’s Belle called “feminist,” and I have to say that’s kind of silly, at least in the sense that the term is generally used today. Really she is just more developed and took more action than the cartoon version. So I guess if by feminist you mean she has a brain, then sure.
We also get more back-story on the beast, and more insight into his growing feelings than we got in that little “There’s something there that wasn’t there before…” montage in the animated version.
And then there’s Gaston. You know, the villain? The guy we’re supposed to hate? Well, he’s kind of awesome in this version.
Now, that probably sounds like I’m some kind of heartless serial killer in the making, and granted he did become a true villain by about halfway through when he started doing the same type of bad-guy stuff he did in the animated movie (especially toward Belle’s dad). But for a while there, he was really a pretty sympathetic guy. And I have to say, his musical number (you now, the one that goes, “No one fights like Gaston, douses lights like Gaston… I’m especially good at expectorating!” and “I use antlers in all of my decorating…” – is it in your head yet?) was by far my favorite.
The Controversial Issue
Of course before I watched this, I heard and read all about the supposed “gay moment” where Gaston’s sidekick LeFou is seen dancing with another dude at the end. And I wouldn’t go so far as to say I would have missed it if I hadn’t known it was coming, but the homosexual agenda was definitely not as over-whelming an issue as it was made out to be.
The funny thing is, the brief shot where they show LeFou dancing with a guy felt totally out of place and forced. Like they’d already finished showing shots of everyone else dancing around and were focusing on the main couple – oh and wait, gotta show these guys dancing together!
Now, the whole way through the movie there are hints that he’s kind of effeminate, but it is actually even mentioned that he has dated women in the past, and it really just comes across like he has a heterosexual man-crush on Gaston the whole time.
Here’s what I think happened. Someone wrote the script for this adaptation. The director gets this idea to throw a homosexual agenda in there and puts LeFou dancing with a dude at the end, and they go to the press with how the movie is a celebration of gay rights or what have you. Everyone jumps on it, either in condemnation or celebration, and suddenly the movie gets ten thousand times more attention than the massive amount it would have gotten to begin with.
That is precisely why I avoided talking about the movie online or signing any kind of petition against it while it was in theaters. Because petitions against some evil or terrible thing in a movie or show actually just make it that much more successful. There’s kind of no such thing as bad press when it comes to Hollywood (possibly excluding criminal acts – possibly).
So, Should Our Kids Watch It?
My toddler is three. We were hesitant to let him watch it before we saw for ourselves how blatant an agenda it really had. Now that I saw, I’m pretty sure he would have totally missed it, being three.
That being said, there are a few issues to consider when deciding whether to let your kids of various ages watch it or not:
The climactic fight seen between the Beast and Gaston at the end (you know, the one where Gaston falls to his grisly death even in the cartoon? Ah, the G-ratings of the 90s…) is pretty intense for any little kids.
There is a weird thing during the Gaston song where they sing, “No one bites in a fight like Gaston,” and LeFou lifts up his shirt, like he’s showing bite marks on his tummy from Gaston or something. It’s kind of weird and seems sexual, which makes absolutely no sense, considering that Gaston is going on about how he’s in love with Belle and therefore is obviously not into guys…
There’s also a part where LeFou is trying to calm Gaston down by reminding him of happy times, things like war and the widows he is able to console during war times. Eh, a little squeamy if you ask me.
And of course, depending on your child’s age, observational skills, and level of knowledge about the goings-on in our modern society, they may or may not wonder why that silly guy is dancing with another man at the end dance scene.
It’s a hard call. I’m glad I didn’t spend money on it, since someone did obviously intend to add a homosexual agenda to it. But I don’t think the whole movie is ruined by it. It does still have beautiful visuals, a pure romantic love story, and a good amount of fun. Mostly, I feel like it’s kind of unfortunate that we have to be discerning on whether or not to let our kids watch.
11 thoughts on “Beauty and the Beast: My Take on the Controversy”
Oh, Beauty and the Beast… I had a perfectly nice dinner with the in-laws ruined while discussing this film. I did the same thing, once it came to Netflix and I didn’t have to pay extra money, I watched it. It was a nice film. I cried when Chip turned back into a boy. I probably wouldn’t mind letting my kids watch it when they are a bit older (it is kind of dark for very young kids, even kind of creeped me out at parts), but I don’t think I’ll just gloss over the agenda. By the time they are old enough to watch it, unfortunately, they are going to know about homosexuality– its almost unavoidable in the culture. So it will have to be discussed. Lucky us, the parents,eh?
So true! And I definitely agree that the dark elements do make it so it’s not really for very young kids anyway. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
If this is the Emma Watson version, I honestly didn’t really take note of a homosexual agenda. I was so focused on seeing how similar it was to the animated film. I liked it!
Yeah it’s definitely not as obvious at all as I was expecting, with the big deal people made about it.
Thanks for your review. Overall I thought it was a good movie as well and your perspective resonates with much of my own. I thought the villagers in drag and “be free” scene was more of a “gay moment” as I think the director called it than LeFou dancing with the dude at the end. It seems like Hollywood is really catering to the 80’s and 90’s crowd in remaking a lot of these movies from their childhood, but tweaking it to be more mature so it appeals to their young adult interests.
That’s an interesting thought! You’re probably right on that, considering that the whole thing was a bit dark to appeal to the children you’d think it was intended for.
I enjoyed this review. I, too, was too focused on seeing the similarities between the animated version to find the agendas hidden in this movie.
Our family has enjoyed it immensely the times we’ve watched it – I am rather enjoying the remakes of the animated versions coming out these days!
I haven’t seen it, but after your review I’m pretty sure I’ll skip it. Seems like they were trying too hard, and I don’t need that in my entertainment.
As always, so grateful for your insight!
Yeah, it’s really a shame they had to throw it in there, when it had no bearing whatsoever on the story and was otherwise a pretty good movie.
Thank you for your review. In my opinion, I think it is these subtle things that desensitizes us to issues. They obviously aren’t going to come in with two men kissing, but the little things here and there that our kids get used to, make it easier and easier for them to accept them as normal.
I appreciate your thoughts. 🙂
Yeah, it’s interesting, this is actually the third kids-type movie I’ve seen in the last year or so that had a little bit of subtle pro-homosexual content, but this is the only one of the three instances where anyone made an issue out of it — or where any Catholic or Christian audience members seemed to notice. And I have to agree even the subtle and rather unnoticed stuff is dangerous in its ability to desensitize us and our kids.
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