OPINION: The “gay moment” controversy over Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is beyond overblown

in Disney, Movies, Movies & TV

Last week in an interview with British gay lifestyle magazine “Attitude”, Bill Condon– the openly gay director of Disney’s new live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast”— remarked that the movie would feature Disney’s first “exclusively gay moment”, centering around the character of LeFou (portrayed in the film by actor Josh Gad).

This past Sunday at the “Beauty and the Beast” press conference in Beverly Hills, California, Condon expanded upon and clarified his thoughts on the matter, saying:

“What is this movie about? What has this story always been about for three hundred years? It’s about looking closer, going deeper, examining people for who they really are. And in a very Disney way, we are including everybody. I think this movie is for everybody, and on the screen you’ll see everybody. That was important to me, and I think to all of us.”

WATCH “BEAUTY AND THE BEAST” PRESS CONFERENCE (RELEVANT COMMENTS AT 16:28):

After Condon let those comments slip, and Josh Gad responded on Twitter by saying he is “beyond proud of this”, the inevitable controversy among the Disney fan community and movie audiences in general started to pick up steam.

But here is where it truly derails:

  • A drive-in theater in Alabama has publicly refused to show the film;
  • a mommy blogger took a highly-publicized stand by cancelling her family’s Disney vacation in retaliation;
  • and a petition against “Beauty and the Beast” has racked up more than a hundred thousand signatures.
  • Let me repeat that: More than one-hundred thousand people are publicly admitting to boycotting a Disney film on the grounds that they believe the film promotes a (their words) “harmful sexual political agenda.”

    Let that sink in for a second. Because of a so-called “gay moment,” this group believes the film is “harmful.”

    As you may have guessed based on my full review of the movie, I’ve seen the new “Beauty and the Beast” already. And the first thing I have to say is that the controversy is completely, astoundingly overblown.

    The “gay moment” referred to by Mr. Condon constitutes less than two full seconds of the finished film, and is preceded by maybe two or three glances between LeFou and Gaston (Luke Evans) and sight gags that would not have felt out of place in the original animated version.

    WATCH JOSH GAD AND LUKE EVANS PERFORM “GASTON” WITH COMPOSER ALAN MENKEN:

    Secondly, even if the gay undertones were less subtle, or if that moment at the film’s conclusion (I won’t spoil what it actually entails) had included a close-up smile from LeFou, as I had expected, it’s more than a little bit embarrassing to be part of a fan community that responds in this way to what can only be called progress.

    Disney already has a history of being incredibly friendly to the gay community, hosting “Gay Days” celebrations in the parks (unofficial events, though accompanied by official rainbow food and merchandise). Countless LGBT cast members are employed by the company, and even Oscar-winning lyricist Howard Ashman— who provided the words to the “Beauty and the Beast” songs so many Disney fans have memorized– was gay, not to mention a number of other members of the original film’s creative team.

    Disney Legend Howard Ashman. Image Copyright Disney.
    Disney Legend Howard Ashman. Image Copyright Disney.

    Ultimately, I hope people will take Condon’s words to heart, and for once actually learn a moral from the Disney movies they love so much.

    Accept others. Be okay with differences. Embrace diversity.

    If you’re tired of Hollywood “forcing” those ideas on you in every movie, maybe think about welcoming them. Then they won’t have to anymore.

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    Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” will be released into theaters nationwide on Friday, March 17th.

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