Disney stands strong during “Beauty and the Beast” controversy surrounding gay character

In Opinion
(Courtesy of Disney)

Disney’s 2017 live-action recreation of the classic film “Beauty and the Beast” has been met with criticism both globally and domestically concerning homosexual themes surrounding one character in the story.

Disney’s reaction to the outrage so far has been nothing but commendable, and something the public should take note of. Disney sets a precedent in handling intolerance with logic.

Actor Josh Gad plays the character LeFou, sidekick to Gaston, who has an “exclusively gay” infatuation with Gaston, director Bill Condon told Attitude magazine.

As Disney features its first LGBT character in a film, history is also repeated as those against the movie are relentless in spreading their fear of progress.

Ground-zero for the outrage comes from Henagar, Ala. On Facebook, a privately owned drive-in theater in the town announced it would be stopping all shows of the new movie because “companies continually force their views on us,” according to USAToday.

Condon replied to the message with, “I’m sad about that theater but there are 4,000 theaters showing the movie, I hope everybody moves past that and just goes to take pleasure in what we made,” according to an interview with USAToday.

Instead of giving into the drama stirred up by the theater, Condon saw right through the act with class. Rather than creating controversy by adding fuel to the fire, situations like these must be met with the same logical rationale—address the slight displeasure and move on.

Similar controversy has been brewing in Russia. Despite initially being wary of the film, the country approved screenings of the movie but with one stipulation: The minimum age to watch the film will be 16.

While Disney has yet to say anything on this matter, it seems to recognize that this positive change in attitudes toward the LGBT community will take time. It starts with one small gesture of normalization, then it matures.

As Disney stays silent in regard to Russia’s actions, their stance on Malaysia’s discontent is magnificent.

Disney brandishes its confidence in the film and the message as it refuses to make any changes as Malaysia, which has strict laws against homosexuality, has asked. Instead, Disney is allowing the country until March 30 to decide between releasing the film without any changes or not releasing it at all.

Instead of adhering to the changes by tweaking the scenes, Disney stands its ground and recognizes the importance of having the moment in the film.

Some may consider the changes that Disney has made in the past with movies such as 2015’s “Inside Out,” where in Japan, kids hate green bell peppers more than broccoli so a scene was changed to further connect with target audiences, according to Business Insider. Or changing the name Moana in certain European countries to not conflict with a copyright clash, according to The Telegraph.

But changes like those are trivial compared to the homosexual moment in “Beauty and the Beast,” and translating that logic to this situation would be dismissive of the progress that Disney is striving for.

Giving Malaysia an ultimatum is genius. If the film is not accepted, then Malaysia will effectively ostracize its LGBT community further, while also losing all the potential revenue the film would have generated.

Running the movie would be an enormous effort in changing the way the world looks at relationships like these. Hopefully, it would also help reverse the laws that Malaysia has in place, or at least prompt the country to rethink them.

The one major take away from this Disney controversy is the attitude that the company set in place, to not erupt in anger and denounce those who oppose them and the film. The company is also not forcing opposing views to an audience not ready to accept but slowly integrate and ease in new progressive thoughts.

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