Disney’s new live-action Beauty and the Beast has created quite an unnecessary controversy over it’s overtly gay characterization of LeFou. An Alabama theatre refused to show the film, the entire country of Malaysia has banned it, and a Russian lawmaker is pushing for a nation-wide ban as well. Their loss.
The decision to embrace LeFou’s homosexuality, already conspicuous in the original animated version, was a great decision that bears comedy fruit throughout the plot. This is a case of art reflecting life, and the response of homosexuality to Beauty and the Beast is a ironic example of cultural ignorance. Gay people exist, and many are big time Disney fans.
If an embrace of LeFou’s sexuality bothers conservatives across America, they will have to boycott Disneyland and Disney World entirely if they want to be consistent in their superfluous bigotry because one can safely assume that a disproportionate number of Disney’s male performers are gay. Just saying.
Actually, conservatives would be better off never watching the original Beauty and the Beast again, because the original lyricist, Howard Ashman, was a gay man who persuasively pushed the film’s writers to explore having greater sympathy for the Beast as a kind of metaphor for his struggle with AIDS. All along, conservative Disney fans have been unwittingly singing along with the trials of homosexuality in America. This is a culture war conservatism is visibly losing, and conservatives should just enjoy the movie.
Because it is great. Wonderfully cast, the film’s songs come alive, literally with real humans, in theatrical exhilaration, and its immersive production paves the way for Disney to film live-action remakes of all of Disney’s animations. Disney reportedly has already planned a total of 22 remakes of it’s animated classics, so get ready.
It’s unfortunate that the gay-shaming has become the latest culture war battle, because gay shamers are going to miss impressive performances. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens are fine embodiments of our titular protagonists, and the supporting cast is even better. Luke Evans (Gaston), Kevin Kline (Maurice), Josh Gad (LeFou), Ewan McGregor (Lumiere), Stanley Tucci (Maestro Cadenza, a brand new character), Audra McDonald (Madame Garderobe), Ian McKellan (Cogsworth), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette), and Nathan Mack (Chip) all kill it. Ewan McGregor is the true standout with a disguised French accent, however, whose Moulin Rouge singing gets an encore in the film’s most entertaining song “Be Our Guest.”
The attention for detail throughout toward costumes, sets, makeup, and art design are sure to warrant Oscar nominations, and if Disney is really going to milk our society’s collective childhood of Disney films for remakes of all the other animated films, at least we can expect that they will be fun and beautifully crafted. Kids will love it, and it’s fun for everyone who doesn’t get bent out of shape when confronting homosexuality’s literal existence.
Contemptor grade: 9.5