Beauty and the Beast: Disney’s gay moment
Trigger warning for homophobes: Disney’s new Beauty and the Beast has “an obviously gay character,” said Kevin Fallon in TheDailyBeast.com. The remake of the animated classic uses real actors, and has sparked a “global cultural crisis” by portraying LeFou, the chubby, ingratiating sidekick of the hunky villain Gaston, as a closeted gay man struggling with his feelings. LeFou gives Gaston a back rub and lingering gazes, serenades his masculinity, and in the movie’s climactic ballroom scene is briefly seen waltzing with another man. Russia’s homophobic censors have prohibited under-16s from watching it; an Alabama movie theater has banned the movie; and over 50,000 people have signed a petition by a Christian group in support of a boycott.
What’s so wrong with that? said Margot Cleveland in TheFederalist.com. Some of us have young children, and “just want to enjoy a couple of hours of entertainment that doesn’t necessitate a follow-up three-hour lesson on sexual morality.” Disney isn’t exactly subtle about the gay theme: LeFou sits on Gaston’s lap, leans into his neck, and says teasingly, “Too much?” Yes, it is too much for young children. It’s not just the “unnecessary gay subplot,” said ArmondWhite in NationalReview.com. The whole remake is laden with political correctness and leftist propaganda. Emma Watson’s Belle “is not a love-starved innocent but a feminist standard-bearer” who scorns Gaston’s invitation to become a traditional wife. The Beast is reduced to a “crude chauvinist” who needs to be tamed and made more sensitive to others.
Lighten up, said David Benkof in DailyCaller.com. When you consider that the plot revolves around a “Stockholm Syndrome romance” between a woman and a beast with horns, “a bit of chaste homosexuality seems rather tame.” It’s still a rich, enchanting film—despite the bestiality and gay in-jokes. Besides, LeFou is hardly Disney’s first gay character, said Kristen Page-Kirby in WashingtonPost.com. Older Disney films have featured plenty of “coded gay” characters, including The Little Mermaid’s drag queen–esque Ursula and The Lion King’s fiendishly camp Scar. Their sexuality was “given a wink and a nod,” but they were never allowed an object for their affections— until LeFou. The code was a way of making gay characters “safer.” By breaking it, Disney has emphasized Beauty and the Beast’s main lesson: “looking past differences and celebrating love.”