Director Bill Condon stated that the new live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast would feature an “exclusively gay moment”, thanks to the sexually-uncertain LeFou. In response to this, there have been calls to boycott Disney, the general consensus seemingly revolving around the following two sentiments: A, children should not be exposed to a gay character in an encouraging light; and B, striking Disney’s economic inflow will deter them from including future homosexual characters. In light of understanding this movement, I believe there are some important aspects to this situation that haven’t been widely considered. So, for the sake of encouraging critical thinking and educated actions, I’ve constructed the following article.
Firstly, to explain the background of the boycott: news of LeFou’s homosexuality stemmed from director Bill Condon, who spoke of it in terms of featuring an “exclusively gay moment” in Disney. This, in correspondence with several recently announced gay characters and moments in Disney shows and films, provoked the widely-spread Disney Boycott. Unfortunately I was unable to find a reliable statistic regarding how many people agreed to the boycott; however, the largest, most measurable stance seems to be taken by the American Family Association, which gathered 50,000 signatures under the tag line: “Sign the Disney Pledge stating you will not support Disney unless they produce family-friendly entertainment.” This pledge covers not only the Beauty and the Beast, but also all other Disney productions.
I don’t believe that this petition is effective whatsoever—especially if the purpose behind signing is objecting to Beauty and the Beast’s LeFou being gay. Here’s how my reasoning follows: controversy is free advertisement. Countless retweets and shares of the Disney Boycott, albeit shown in a light intended to discourage Disney’s endeavors, are advertisement. So unless your free advertisement convinces those who view it to avoid Disney films, you’re effectively promoting the film rather than hurting it.
I would argue that the controversy has not hurt Disney—and that if it has somehow been economically detrimental, the degree to which it was has been is insignificant. Despite 50,000 petition signatures to boycott Disney, Beauty and the Beast’s release day was the second-highest in G/PG-movie rated history (in economic terms). In addition, the movie is projected by non-Disney companies to gross 165-175 million dollars by the end of it’s opening weekend. So, I believe that it’s safe to say that boycotts against the film have proven to be an insufficient economic discourager for Disney.
Now, I would appreciate graciousness as I delve into a more touchy subject: morality. Despite the boycott being unsuccessful from a financial standpoint, many would still argue that it is a healthy endeavor because it takes a stand against evil; that Disney is spreading an immoral message, and that standing against it defends against social programming. However, I believe that there are some critical points that have been overlooked.
Firstly, a fantasy movie character being portrayed as gay doesn’t necessarily communicate that homosexuality is healthy or acceptable. It most-certainly does represent the culture’s current trends and popular topics, but having a homosexual character—a villain portrayed as oafish, unintelligent, and obnoxious, does not equate to encouraging homosexual behavior. To put in a Christian example, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction film includes a protagonist that constantly refers to the bible, and recognizes supposed supernatural interventions of God. However, the character’s turning turn away from a life of crime at the film’s climax has probably not inspired anyone to turn away from gang violence.
Secondly, exposure does not instill opinion. There are many boycotters that might think: “I don’t want my son’s favorite movie character to fall in love with a man,” because it might encourage the said son to be homosexual. In that case, don’t view the film. In fact, don’t view any of the original Disney films, because they contain murder, display black magic as good, and premarital relations with sexual themes as romantic and wonderful. Beauty and the Beast itself revolves around bestiality, between an innocent girl who sacrifices her own safety for her father’s, and a cursed Prince who uses threats of starvation to make her conform to his social norms. In the original film, the primary spark for her acceptance of the Beast is that he offers her material possessions to try and make her imprisonment seem brighter. Truly, the protagonist, although he sees improvement by the movie’s pinnacle, is not a good or healthy demonstration of a partner. As an additional example, Belle’s well-meaning father is a loony, unstable character, who is openly mocked by the town and fails in all his attempts to help his daughter. However, unlike the obnoxious LeFou, he’s portrayed as a good guy “father figure”. So if you believe that witnessing a gay character will make your children want to be gay, consider not letting them watch any Disney films—also, disallow them from reading the bible, because David might inspire them to be sexually promiscuous, and Moses might make them want to be murderers.
Thirdly, and in closing, Disney is a company, not an organization. It’s ultimate intention is making money, not supporting human rights or fighting with social issues. With this principal stated, I believe an important distinction should be made: Disney’s motivation for including homosexual characters does not appear to be for teaching the public that such behavior is morally acceptable or optimal. The reason they would include characters would be to appeal to the large and growing demographic of those who believe in the LGBT movement. Simply examine the director’s comments on LeFou when he revealed the character’s sexual orientation; none of them revolve around his joy or support in the gay community. They all point to his confidence in the film, not his pleasure in manifesting his personal beliefs via a fantasty movie message. In my mind, Condon is furthering the “homosexual agenda” in the same way that Pureflix movies further the “Christian agenda”–they don’t. They just act as ideologically-reinforcing, pandering films that, due to their relatable nature, are financially profitable.
That’s simply an alternative view-point I’d like to suggest. If you disagree, or have an additional thoughts you’d like for me or anyone else to consider, I’d appreciate if you’d post them in the comment section. Please keep in mind that, due to the public nature of all the platforms I’m releasing this blog upon, I’d encourage your views to written respectfully and thoughtfully.
Thank you for reading.
Bill Condon speaking on LeFou: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2017/03/01/beauty-and-beast-features-gay-moment-director-reveals.html
Projected Beauty and the Beast box office numbers:http://deadline.com/2017/03/beauty-and-the-beast-weekend-box-office-selling-out-1202045224/
Projected Beauty and the Beast box office numbers: https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2017/03/17/box-office-beauty-and-the-beast-nabs-monstreous-16-3m-thursday/#2bb9cbe56206
AFA petition: https://onemillionmoms.com/current-campaigns/disney-airs-its-first-gay-kiss/