From a writing standpoint, there are a thousand things wrong with the new Beauty and the Beast, and they all stem back to the gay character. I’m not about to say I’m against having gay characters in Disney movies, I don’t mind as long as it adds to the story, and making that particular character playing that particular role gay stirred up not only controversy but writing errors that take away from the original story. I love Beauty and the Beast it was one of the first Disney movies I watched as a kid and it took me forever to watch the whole thing because I thought it was scary, so when the first images of Emma Watson as Belle started circulating, I got very worried. As far as Disney remakes go, I’ve been unimpressed, so far, my favorite one has been Cinderella, and the one I got the most hyped for was Jungle Book and both of those movies changed the story drastically enough that they could be called their own movie. Beauty and the Beast did not do this, it kept to the story line by line and it was heavily distracting for someone who knows the original by heart.
Every change they made took away from how the original story was presented. For starters, Gaston is the narcissistic, quintessential, arrogant manly-man we loved to hate and there’s a scene right after the first big musical number in the original where he ambushes Belle, snags her book and says “How can you read this, there’s no pictures!” in his very next scene he tries to propose to Belle, of course she turns him down! However, in the new version instead of nagging her for being an educated woman, he asks her what she’s reading and stammers through a conversation that goes more along the lines of “hey, I see you’re interested in reading, how can I show interest in what you’re interested in?” like someone who actually wants a relationship with her, after Belle is ridiculed for her quirky inventiveness, he then tries to propose to her when he’s the one person on her side.
If I were Belle, I’d go for the protective guy with the dark ponytail, this Gaston is my type! But do you see the problem here? Gaston is no longer so easy to hate, he’s not a compelling villain, in fact he’s closer to a harmless stalker who genuinely wants to protect Belle even though he doesn’t fully understand her.
Then we have Lefou, our next issue. Lefou is what I like to call a Toady. If anyone has seen A Christmas Story they know exactly what kind of character I’m talking about, the short, annoying, wannabe who follows around their hero whether they’re good or bad. Lefou is hilarious in the original, his whole purpose is comic relief and this version wanted to capture that just about the same as the old one, however… they made him gay. Look, in movies I don’t care, honestly, you could have made any of them gay, you could have redone the movie to have the beast or Belle the opposite gender and make them gay, hell, Emma Watson’s already manly enough for it! But trying to sell a gay Beauty and the Beast would have been a better story because of the way they’d have to rewrite it for an audience who might not fully accept it.
Here’s the problem with having Lefou be gay. Imagine if his Toady roll was given to a cute, young girl, like the three in the original who swooned over Gaston. Now you have a girl who clearly attracted to Gaston following him around while Gaston pines after Belle. Think about how much that would hurt that girl. They did that to Lefou. Since he’s gay now he’s a young man, who’s clearly attracted to Gaston, following him around everywhere, and unable to have him because Gaston clearly loves another. Do you see the problem? As a writer, I’ve learned a great tool of romance is to find something that drives a wedge between your lovers, some reason they can’t be together. Well look at this, we have a tragic love triangle. As a writer while watching this movie I got this sense that for some reason, I was supposed to ship Lefou and Gaston.
Okay, so you got your gay character into a Disney movie, congratulations LGBTQ community, but when you’re taking away from the original story is that really what you want? I’ve already heard people talking about the problems with Lefou outside of the “gay moment” that got it banned in Russia and Alabama. Because, your gay character is also a villain, what are you going to do now, gay people can’t be seen as bad! They then had to change Lefou’s affiliation with the campiest line, “I used to be on Gaston’s side but we are so in a bad place right now” Come on! That just reaffirms the fact that we were supposed to be shipping Lefou and Gaston.
I could rant all day about what I don’t like about Emma Watson’s performance, and how she pulled the strings on this movie like a puppet master, I could complain that she can’t sing and even her singing scenes are shot like a Broadway musical in which she can barely reach the mic. I can even complain about her costume choice with the stupid pants sticking out the whole time, it was supposed to be more dignified but all I was thinking was “I see London, I see France!” What it comes down to is how bad the writing is, how recycled the lines are, how cheap the animation was, and how all the wonder was lost from this experience that could have been beautiful like Cinderella was, but what harmed this movie the most, was pandering to the groups it wanted to appease. They wanted Beauty and the Beast, but just with a little stuff added to it. Here’s an idea, take your special edition and your diamond edition animated movie, and just make new scenes with all the gay in it, call it the rainbow edition, and call it a day, marketing alone will be much cheaper, and higher some up and coming artist to do the new animation, they’d appreciate it!
To future Disney works with gay elements, go for it! I’ll probably watch it, but please bring some originality to the table, don’t rewrite my childhood characters. Lastly, in the big fight scene at the end of the remake, that one guy who got put in a dress and liked it… that was freakin’ hilarious!