A not-so-beautiful controversy

Disney Movie Poster

On Feb. 23, audience members embraced the familiar sights of dancing dishes, singing villagers and ballroom waltzes in the 2017 live-action adaptation of Walt Disney’s 1991 Beauty and the Beast. However, the popular film also met with controversy over its light treatment of kidnapping and the inclusion of a gay character.

The film, with a message of how beauty comes from the inside, has been twisted by some as a tale of homophobia and Stockholm syndrome (a condition that causes hostages to develop an alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity). A couple seconds of a man dancing with another man onscreen somehow turned into a “gay subplot.” Tell that to the other two hours, two minutes and 58 seconds of the movie. In fact, this so-called “controversial” moment has even sparked boycotts in some areas.

According to Matthew Jacobs in the Huffington Post (in his article “The Controversy Surrounding The Gay ‘Beauty And The Beast’ Subplot Reeks Of Hypocrisy”), “An Alabama theater is boycotting the movie, Russia has banned kids younger than 16 from seeing it, Disney refused Malaysian censors’ requests to remove the corresponding scene, and comment boards are littered with conservative outrage.”

The true hypocrisy of the situation is that it’s not just those who are anti-LGBT+ causing a ruckus; gay rights’ supporters are also criticizing the movie. Apparently, this film is “homophobic” because the homosexual character Le Fou is a villain. Let’s all follow Gaston’s example, take our pitch forks and knock down Disney Animation Studio doors to demand the movie be removed from movie theaters.

How can a movie be both homophobic and “too gay”? This conflict is a prime example of human nature. No one wants their beliefs questioned, and many will go to great lengths to show how opinionated they are. Is it so hard to not search for negatives in something that is supposed to be positive?

Another are of controversy in the film is the theory that Belle suffers from Stockholm syndrome because she falls in love with the Beast, her captor. Well, anyone who argues this must have slept through the majority of the movie, or else they would know it is certainly not the case.

“She’s not falling in love with him,” director Bill Condon told the Los Angeles Times. “She understands the terms of what he’s done, she reminds him of it, and he feels ashamed of it… She very clearly sets up those boundaries. And it’s only when he actually does free her, and long after that, that she kind of lets herself open up to her feelings for him.”

This is a Disney princess movie aimed at little girls who admire Belle. It targets those who want to be pretty princesses with pretty dresses and a big castles, not the critical adults. They need to seriously stop overthinking a story about a woman who begins to see more in a beast than what he appears to be, and falls in love with him for his thawed heart.