I had a soft spot in my heart for the eighteenth century fairy tale, Beauty And the Beast, because it was the first youth theater production my youngest son ever tried out for. I dropped my then eight year old son off to audition for the play, not knowing if he would take to this art form. It was a small town production and every interested child was guaranteed a part. I asked my son how he liked his experience when I picked him up. He replied, “I am the Beast.”
I am biased of course, but I thought that my son made a great Beast. I knew he could sing. I didn’t know that my boy could let out a mournful howl to express a man in pain when the love of his life leaves.
If you are not familiar with this beast, he is a fairy tale of a man who is cursed to continue to look and act like a rude, crude animal unless a women falls in love with him. It is quite a story. My son is now in his 30’s. Memories of his 8 year old self brought me to see the live action version of Disney’s film Beauty And The Beast, released in the USA on March 17, 2017, according to Wikipedia. Disney’s animated film by the same name was released in 1991.
As I watched Beauty and the Beast, I wanted to give my own mournful wail, not in sympathy with the beast, but in disgust. Spoiler alert. Don’t read any further if you are planning to take your daughter or granddaughter or any girl to see this movie, as I plan to try and spoil any such experience.
The only good thing I have to say is that the version of the story I just saw, opened my eyes to the utter piece of filth this story is. It is filthy in its cover up of some of the worst that men have to offer to girls, women and each other.
It is a fantastic, Wonderful World of Disney, Technicolor cover up of a shit show of male failings.
Where do I start? Let’s start with Wikipedia’s plot summary:
“In the film, a young woman named Belle is imprisoned in an enchanted castle by a fearsome Beast, who soon falls in love with her. There, she learns that the Beast was a prince who is cursed by a mysterious sorceress, with his servants, into their current states, as penance for their past callousness. Belle also tries to evade Gaston, a narcissistic hunter who is obsessed to have her for himself, ultimately leading to a confrontation between her suitors.”
Then there is my plot summary:
In the film, a young woman named Belle falls in love with a mean, hideous man for no apparent reason other than to liberate his servants, keep her father out of an insane asylum, keep herself out of poverty, evade Gaston, (“a narcissistic hunter who is obsessed to have her for himself,”) get a nice ball gown and live in a castle that has a great library.
The Beast is nothing but bad to Belle. Well, he does let her go from the prison he has created for her, so she can try to save her Father, but letting her out of the hell he created for her is not really a big favor.
Maybe I’m not being fair. Let me try and be the devil’s advocate. Calling the Beast a devil is calling it just the way Disney special effects people portrays him, horns, goat legs and all. So on the devil’s behalf, the Beast did get himself all chewed up in the process of out brutalizing wolves that try to prevent Belle from making an escape. He did agree to go back to the castle with her, so she could nurse the man-Beast’s wolf wounds, instead of making good on her attempt to get the hell away from him.
The Beast does show empathy for Belle as he gets to know her. He tells her that he thinks that the people in her village who mock Belle’s interest in books must make Belle feel the way he does when others shun him. He just misses the nuance that he puts others off by being monstrous, which is kind of different than a young woman being dissed because she doesn’t hide her smarts.
The Beast does almost get himself killed defending Belle from Gaston, but just prior he acknowledged by that point he just wanted to be dead. Can we give the Beast some credit for coming back to life when Belle, for no good reason, kisses him? No, I didn’t think so.
Okay, how about when the Beast gives Belle a free trip to the Paris, so she can see herself, as an infant, being taken away from her mother who is dying of the plague? Well, that’s a hard sell because the Beast admitted that the magic book that transported them there, wouldn’t work for him, without her.
The Beast did clean-up nicely after being kissed. Too bad he never apologized for callously turning away the poor woman seeking shelter, that lead to his being turned into a Beast in the first place.
Look, this trying to defend what makes the Beast ultimately lovable is making me sick. I got to stop.
This film is typical Disney fare. It portrays another child whose Mother isn’t there for them. A child who has to repeatedly try to save her father instead of the other way around.
Disney does break some new mainstream entertainment ground in showing a clear glint of romantic interest between two men. Gaston’s primary male sycophant, LeFou, grows tired of trying to seduce Gaston and recognizes his good fortunate of finding himself the dance partner of an unnamed male character, who accidentally learned that he liked wearing a dress. I have no comment here.
Ah, but it is just a movie about a time honored fairy story. What is wrong with a little lavish entertainment now and again? I will tell you what is wrong with it. A marketing budget of $300 million dollars, as per Wikapedia, that is what. Just imagine that kind of money being put into a movie that shows how a truly loving, lovable man loves a woman. Let this movie include a loving father or loving father surrogate loving and protecting his daughter and her mother. When was the last time you saw one like that? If such a film played in a theatre near you, might you be interested in taking children to see it?
If you are a man in such a situation, you may need to invent your own stories to illustrate these themes. You might be motivated to be a better role model as to what a compassionate man looks like, sounds like and does, when it comes to caring for girls and for women.
I am nothing but proud of the sensitive young man that my son has become. I am nothing but disgusted by the culture that is projected to help the latest version of Beauty And The Beast, as per Wikipedia, gross $1.5 billion dollars worldwide.
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