Beauty and the Beast Revival
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The classic Disney story of a small town girl who loves to read recently got a remake that includes Disney’s first openly gay character and new feminist ideas. In the new “Beauty and the Beast”, Disney portrayed Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou, as gay and announced him as their first openly gay character. While there has been much speculation in the past as to other Disney characters that may be a part of the LGBT community including Captain hook from “Peter Pan” and Fix it Felix from “Wreck it Ralph”, this is the first time Disney has been open about it with the public. This announcement caused a lot of controversy with conservatives who boycotted the movie and other countries like Malaysia and Kuwait who didn’t allow the movie to be shown within their country. Russia even decided to change the age rating to 16 and over as not to influence their younger populations with ideas that conflicted their national beliefs. While Disney did make an effort to include a broader range of people in this movie, this step towards diversity of sexual orientation was less of a triumph for the LGBT community in reality. Until I read about Disney’s press release about this character I had one or two moments where I thought he could be gay, but it was in no way a noticeable part of the movie, and I didn’t fully put the pieces together until I read the article. Throughout the movie, LeFouy was seen trying to boast Gaston’s self esteem and was never far away from him. This ranged on a scale from loyal sidekick to one-sided attempt at flirting but was only noticeable if you were looking for it. For a fleeting moment at the end of the movie during a ballroom dancing scene, LeFou danced with another man. Other than that the movie made no references to him being gay. Disney was able to take a risk and infuse the classic movie with a semi controversial subject, but the overreaction over this character was unnecessary considering how little it was shown in the movie.
Another new aspect of this movie was Emma Watson’s feminist influence. In order to promote positive body images among young girls watching the movie, she refused to wear a corset. She also insisted that producers give her character, Belle, a different backstory that showed her as less of a damsel in distress, but instead as an inventor. While these are important changes in empowering girls, this did little to change the issues with the story as a whole. The movie still has the same princess ending and similarities to Stockholm Syndrome, Overall “Beauty and the Beast” was a great movie that could have done a little more to distance itself from the original.