Yesterday, I finally got around to seeing Disney’s brand new live action Beauty and the Beast adaptation. Everyone and their mother has been raving about this movie, so I bought into the excitement and took my niece and nephews to see it.
I should note beforehand that I heard a lot of controversy over this version having a canonically gay character, which offended a lot of people, for many different reasons. Not knowing enough about the original story (Belle was not my favorite princess growing up, sue me) I went into it unsure pf what to expect in regards to that. (Side note: one of my bigoted coworkers assumed I was only watching the movie because of the gay character). So this fact has been pretty significant, since mostly everyone knew about it going into it.
First, let me talk about the actual film. Emma Watson played an amazing Belle. I had no idea she had such a beautiful voice, but it was quite stunning. No complaints there. Emma’s a talented individual and I think she took to the role perfectly. The film was reminiscent of the animated Disney film, and it was really neat seeing all the characters come alive. The romance was believable and it made me nostalgic. And can we talk about that insane growl at the end from the Beast in human form? That was also very nice. There was so much humor, and it was just adorable sometimes. I laughed a whole lot, especially during the Gaston and LeFou parts. They were an interesting pair, and I loved their dynamic.
So, halfway through the movie, it occurred to me that I still hadn’t seen this supposed gay character. I noticed hints between Gaston and LeFou, but I wasn’t sure if Disney would actually pair them up romantically. I noticed that LeFou was effeminate, but that does not make a man gay. LeFou was trailing behind Gaston, but that’s what sidekicks do in every film. I waited for something to happen, either between them or someone else.
And then by the end of the movie, when Belle and Beast finally kiss, and all the secondary characters suddenly appear, everyone starts pairing up. Couple after couple started kissing on screen or making googly eyes at each other, hinting at a romantic connection. I get it, Disney’s a big believer in true love, so this was a trademark somehow. It’s fine. But then I was still waiting for this supposed gay character to get his love interest, like everyone else in the movie. And since LeFou was the only one alive from the pair, I counted on him. Eventually, I noticed LeFou dancing at the ball, with a woman. Okay, I thought, that’s cool. I guess it wasn’t him after all.
A few moments later I hear my niece whisper, “He was dancing with another man. Did you see that?” I turn to her, wondering if she was messing with me. I probably looked away for one second, and I missed this mystery man LeFou was dancing with. I kept my eyes glued to the screen until the credits, but there were no other signs of this happening. And that was that.
Leaving the theater, I was still completely unsure whether all those rumors were true. Was there really a gay character in the film? I’m still not sure. I’m not saying that anyone needs to be with someone else to prove their orientation, but in a movie that promotes true love and urges couples to get together, I would think the one gay character would get someone, too. And how is this representation?
From my perspective, LeFou was just an effeminate character, sassy and cute, yes, but that raises other questions. Are these the traits we’re supposed to connect with homosexuality, so much that we don’t get any real confirmation?
This turned more into a rant than a film review, but I’m still wondering why there was such a fuss about this supposed gay character when I had such a hard time just figuring out who this character could be. I see you, Disney, taking the safe way out of this. When are we going to get a gay princess?