Anyone who tells you they don’t have a social agenda is an alien bent on mind control or a fetus without a formed opinion.
I enjoyed time away from work and writing on Saturday and braved the chaos that is Saturday night at the movies. Blockbuster films like Kong: Skull Island, Logan and Beauty and the Beast packed people into the parking lot and cinema goers who watched films with themes of love and equality nearly tore each other’s heads off for a parking spot.
Seriously, not kidding on that one. My gal-pal said the driver of one car almost drove his car through that of the exiting vehicle in order to scoop the parking spot out from under her, screaming as he did. Bet he was there to see Ballerina.
I stayed away from the media reviews and commentary of Beauty and the Beast because I wanted to form my own opinion. Having recently returned from the “Happiest Place on Earth,” where I watched the preview, I had high expectations.
On Sunday I turned to the internet, seeking little factoids to incorporate into this morning’s blog post.
Then I lost a little bit of hope for humanity.
A small contingent of people are pissed off about Director Bill Condon’s gay LeFou, ignoring completely Belle’s Stockholm Syndrome and the uncomfortable cultural acceptance of violent, misogynist Gaston, not to mention the change in direction of Beast’s horns and missing underbite.
Don’t get me wrong, this story has it’s charms with the clear message of don’t judge a person by what you see on the outside. And yes, even that message is flawed since Prince Adam himself is beautiful after his transformation and the only average looking persons are of lower stature.
But, c’mon people, the tell-tale moment of LeFou’s homosexuality had mere seconds of screen time. In a conversation at work, one young woman commented, “of course LeFou was gay,” of the 1991 original.
I love Martha Sorren’s response to the backlash: Condon’s gay LeFou does more harm than good in the representation of homosexuality. And no, not all Christians have the same intention of boycotting the movie. In fact, some think those who are against the movie are hypocrites.
What is the big beef against gay people? People are OK with an imprisoned woman falling in love with an human-animal hybrid but not a gay sidekick?
Where would the great Western culture be if not for homosexual Alan Turing, who swung WWII in favour for the Allies and is the grandfather of modern computing? Does his homosexuality make him less human, less worthy of salvation and mercy? His brilliant gay mind saved our asses and founded the digital age in which we revel.
To me, there is no such thing as a LGBTQ “agenda” any more than the kind of folks who boycott Beauty and the Beast have an agenda of exclusion. I love the idea of gender fluidity and where it could take us as a culture. Anyone who enlightens the collective consciousness and elevates our humanity towards inclusivity doesn’t deserve backlash – they deserve our respect.
Whether you loved, meh-ed, or hated the remake of the 1991 animation should revolve around your appreciation of the artistry of the film, not the so-called gay agenda in LeFou’s character.
I say kudos to the creators of this film for re-envisioning some of the characters in this Disney classic. For example, Broadway singer Audra MacDonald as Madame Garderobe is an improvement on the all-white 1991 cast and there were many interracial couples in the supporting cast. I’d like to see more diversity, including differently able-bodied characters in films.
I had a few quibbles with the new Beauty and the Beast, I’ll be honest, but none of them had to do with a social agenda.
As a hobby medievalist, I had a problem with Belle showing off her underwear all the time with her skirt tucked up on one side. My nitpickerness also caught an editing error where it was up in one shot, and down in the next without any movement by Emma Watson.
I think, given Belle’s “new” backstory that she’s an inventor (she invents a washing machine, of sorts), that the idea was to make her seem like she was more comfortable in “male” pants, and giving her more depth than the small-minded townspeople beyond her affinity for books. She also throws off her chiffon ballgown to rescue Beast (although she wore it to rescue her father) and returns to the castle in her underclothes to stop Gaston.
I don’t think a woman needs to be unclothed to prove her strength, femininity, or the boldness of her feminism.
As a film with a historical feeling, those little details pulled me out of the story. I kept saying to myself, “Put your skirt down or put on some real pants.” Too bad she didn’t have a weapon or invented tool to defeat Gaston instead of standing by helplessly while the testosterone fueled boys wrangled. That would have made my little feminist heart happy.
And what was with the lovely but somewhat mis-placed ear cuff on Belle for her ballroom scene which would looks better situated in a Peter Jackson’s LOTR?
The CGI and production value were very high. However, I found the overall tone subdued despite the almost OTT visual stimulation – to the point were Beast looked all too human with his always perfect, gelled hair and tiny man-nose. The Beast of the original tale was beastly in all sense of the word. Beast of the remake is a “proper gentleman” with a bad temper who doesn’t know how to shave.
I think I would have preferred the 2017 Beauty and the Beast if it didn’t have a mirrored predecessor by the same company. The songs felt different than the 1991 version, sometimes good, sometimes meh. Namely, Be Our Guest didn’t have the same buoyancy, which disappointed me as I like Ewan McGregor’s singing. Hell, who am I kidding, I love his Scottish accent full stop.
I still enjoyed the 2017 remake, but didn’t like it as much as Disney’s re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty with the movie Maleficent.
Another tiny detail in Belle’s backstory didn’t jive well with me. Presumably she grew up in Villeneuve after her father left Paris with her as an infant. For die-hard Disney fans, this conflicts with the appearance of Belle in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, although the artist originally included Belle as animation humour. Consider, too, Gaston’s line about when he first saw Belle. If he, too, grew up in Villeneuve, he would have seen her when they were both children. Would he really have been obsessed with her then?
In naming Belle’s home town Villeneuve, the 2017 Disney remake pays homage to the original 1740 publication of the La Belle et la Bête by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, found within her work La Jeune Américaine ou les Contes marins (translation: The Young American and the Marine Tales). Villeneuve drew inspiration from local French folktales. In 1756, Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont published an abridged and uncredited English translation, Beauty and the Beast. The shorter version is the more well known, thus LePrince de Beaumont is often given credit for Villeneuve’s story.
Stories, writers, and creators examine stereotypes within the framework of familiar, universal themes in order to challenge the beliefs which came before. Without these “social agendas” humanity would be stuck in the binary morality of an unenlightened, bygone age, that, romanticism about the past aside, none of us should pine for.