Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”: A Beautiful, Time Honored Tale Tarnished by Beastly Criticism

Over the last century, Walt Disney Studios has made itself a household name by plucking at the heartstrings of children and adults alike, introducing fairy tales, talking cars, and furry green dragons for all to love and cherish. In 1937, the institution made history with the world’s first full length animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and then again in 1991 when their romantic fantasy, Beauty and the Beast, became the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture in the 64th Academy Awards.

In the last few years, the traditionally cartoonist company has taken it’s place on the stage of live-action/ CGI based films, distinguishing itself from other raging 21st century move producers when it began to reinvent it’s fairy tales, like Maleficent (2014), Cinderella (2015), and it’s newest addition, Beauty and the Beast, coming out next week on March 17th.

Beauty-Beast-2017-Movie-Posters

However, from the beginning, Disney’s live-action remake of the classic French fable had received criticism in ways previous remakes haven’t.

In November, Disney released the first pictures of their new, CGI-animated Beast with Entertainment Weekly. Immediately, people took to social media to show their dislike of the Beast’s representation, saying that he was ugly, and not what they expected or wanted out of the character. These complainers had obviously missed the fact that the Beast is supposed to be…beastly. And in the original cartoon, artists credited their inspiration for the Beast to chimeras, and made him up of the head of a buffalo, the tusks of a boar, the arms and body of a bear, the eyebrows of a gorilla, the legs and tail of a wolf, and the jaws, teeth, and mane of a lion.

beastThe movie is scheduled to be released in the U.S. next week, March 17th, but most controversy and criticism has come out since the world
premiere last week, beginning with people’s claims that Emma Watson (the Harry Potter series, Perks of Being a Wallflower, the Circle), who plays Belle, can’t be a feminist dressed as she was during her cover shoot with Vanity Fair, where parts of her breasts were exposed.

Emma
FYI, this isn’t the picture people are upset over.

Watson, a Goodwill ambassador with the UN and a supporter of the HeForShe campaign was absolutely stunned.

“They were saying that I couldn’t be a feminist and … and have boobs.” Watson explained in an interview with the BBC.

“Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it. It’s very confusing.”

Criticism had also raged around the movie recently when Disney announced that Beauty and the Beast would be it’s first movie to include a gay character – LeFou, Gaston’s loyal sidekick.

For most of us, it can make sense. We’ll still go see the movie and watch for those subtle hints director Bill Condon says Josh Gad (Frozen, Pixels, Jobs) and the writers implemented into the movie.

For others, they ban the movie from theirs theaters and give it an “adults only” label for having “homosexual propaganda”.

Henagar Drive, a movie theater in Alabama, posted on it’s Facebook page:

“If we cannot take our 11 year old grand daughter and 8-year-old grandson to see a movie, we have no business watching it… If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me, then we have no business showing it.”

In Russia, the movie has been given a 16+ rating after calls for it to be banned. In a letter between the Russian MP and the Culture Minister, Beauty and the Beast was called, “…a blatant, shameless propaganda of sin and perverted sexual relationships.”lefou

When addressing the reaction people had had to Disney introducing a gay character, director Bill Condon (the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1/Part 2, Dream Girls, Mr. Holmes) said, “And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it… And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”

“Oh God. Can I just tell you? It’s all been overblown. Because it’s just this, it’s part of just what we had fun with…”

 

And many people forget that the original movie was dedicated a gay man, one of Beauty and the Beast‘s executive producers. Howard Ashman was also the lyricist for the movie’s score, as well as The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Every song we cherish from these three movies all came from him. Ashman died on March 14th, 1991 due to complications with the AIDS virus. Thus, the films dedication.

Without any doubt, the movie is meant to be a blockbuster, full of A-list actors, beloved songs from the original movie, the Broadway production, and new ones written by the original composer Alan Menken.

Whatever backlash, people are expected to love it. I’m positive I will.

– Chloe Cushing, senior

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