Beauty and the Beast is one of the most anticipated movies of year, with fans chewing their nails down to their cuticles over the idea of Harry Potter star, Emma Watson, filling Princess Belle’s shoes.
Yet despite the craze some have demanded a boycott due to the casting of a gay character.
LeFou, who is the sidekick of villain Gaston, is said to realise his feelings for Gaston in the movie. “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” said director, Bill Condon. “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings.”
Despite many being excited about this revelation and that Disney has widely began accepting the LGBT community in its productions, many feel the company should be shunned as they think this might harm their children.
This revelation comes days after Disney Channel aired a homosexual kiss in one of its day time animations. In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, same sex couples can be seen kissing during a concert.
A petition was started on 27th February on Life Petitions, urging to have the film boycotted and to prevent any further LGBT references from being included in Disney’s future productions.
With the introduction of equal marriage and the legality of homosexual relationships in 23 countries, according to Pew Research Centre, homophobia and oppression has been dismissed in numerous parts of the world. However, some still believe it’s a sin and are continuing to take action to prevent it becoming accepted.
According to Stonewall, sex with someone of the same sex is illegal in 73 countries, and punishable by death in 10. That means 40 per cent of the world’s population live in countries where gay, lesbian and bisexual people can be imprisoned. Over 400 million people live under laws which punish same-sex intercourse with the death penalty.
Jon Price, co-founder of Proud2be and an LGBT+ activist from South West Devon expressed dismay about the request to ban Beauty and the Beast.
A call for a boycott gives other permission to oppress and dehumanise members of the LGBT+ community”
“I think it is very disappointing and ultimately gives others permission to oppress and dehumanise members of the LGBT+ community. It also sends out a message to LGBT+ people that there is something wrong with identifying as LGBT+ and being visible and out.” Jon said.
He stated that this attitude could potentially be unsafe as people will feel like it’s wrong to be out and proud. He believes that what Disney has done is something that should be applauded and followed.
“I would hope that other companies would follow in Disney’s footsteps by standing firm and not giving in to bigotry or hatred. By standing on the side of equality and equal representation in the media, companies like Disney would be sending a powerful and affirming message to both LGBT+ people as well as challenging those who boycott and oppose LGBT+ equality and freedom.” Jon said.
Malaysia and Russia have threatened to withdraw the film from its theatres unless they cut the ‘gay moment’ from the film.
As such, Russia have put a higher age rating on the film to protect younger audiences.
Duane Caldwell from Chicago, U.S has defended the call for a boycott saying: “For films aimed at children, Disney should keep LGBT+ references out. As a parent, I don’t want to take kids to a movie I think is “G” (U in Britain) rated – only to find out Disney now considers what used to be rated PG13 (12A/12) or R (15/18) is now “G” – suitable for general audiences. Disney made a name for itself on wholesome family entertainment. If they want to abandon that practice, they should be prepared for those families looking for wholesome entertainment they used to provide, to abandon them and look for family friendly fare elsewhere.”
Caldwell, who is a Christian, said that it isn’t just religious values that make him oppose the film. He said that it’s ‘normalised deviance’ that is the problem, meaning that people shouldn’t have to get used to bad or wrong practices.
LGBT+ themes and scenes shouldn’t be paraded continually or shoved down people’s throats”
“As both a Christian and a parent, I don’t want the LGBT+ agenda (which as far as Christianity is concerned, is a deviation from the norm that God has created) – to be normalized. Once you start down that road, what’s to keep you from normalizing more and more things that are further and further from what God intended? People should not be subject to going to what they think is a family friendly movie – with traditional family values – and having the LGBT+ themes and scenes paraded continually or shoved down their throats.” Duane said.
Many have opposed this view, labelling the call for a boycott as unnecessary.
Claire Tinsley, 52, from South West Devon stated that when she saw the film there was no strong implication of LeFou being a gay character.
“I think the call for a boycott is making a big something out of nothing. I heard about the controversy and when I watched the film, I didn’t even question it as I didn’t think that there was anything that screamed that the character was gay.”
She said she thought the reason why this has caused a stir is because it’s something Disney hasn’t included in their films before.
“Disney is traditionally family orientated, but even so, LGBT references aren’t a harm. It’s a way of educating young children about the variety of different people in the world, which I don’t think is a bad thing.”
This is a celebration of everyone’s individuality and that’s what’s exciting about it.”
Even so, despite this disturbance, the film has gone on to make over a whopping £1 billion at the box office world wide and upon hearing about the reservations, Director Bill Condon addressed those who feel uneased, saying; “Can I just say, I’m sort of sick of this. It’s such a tiny thing, and it’s been overblown.” Condon also added that Beauty and the Beast features much more diversity than just the highly-talked-about LeFou: “We have interracial couples. This is a celebration of everybody’s individuality, and that’s what’s exciting about it.”