The Beauty And The Beast remake was supposed to be Disney’s baby. It was the perfect mixture of nostalgia and live-action, with so much box office promise that the company was practically foaming at the mouth before pre-production.
However, there’s been a bit of drama regarding this 2017 version of Beauty And The Beast. Gay character Lefou, as depicted in the film, is the epicenter of this controversy.
And, as BBC reports, the release date of Beauty And The Beast may be postponed in Malaysia because of it.
More specifically, Disney has decided not to go through with the release there just yet, pending an “internal review.”
Apparently Beauty and the Beast isn't going to be shown in Malaysia, a Disney movie, banned. Funny.
— Faez Najmuddin (@HiFaez) March 13, 2017
As the Financial Times reports, Malaysia’s film censorship rules are still pretty strict, despite being eased in 2010. They allow for the depiction of gay characters in film but only if they show repentance or are portrayed in a negative light by the film’s conclusion.
Furthermore, sodomy is punishable with a custodial sentence in Malaysia, which explains why Disney postponed the release of Beauty And The Beast.
For one thing, Twitter is kind of furious over the news.
Beauty And The Beast gets banned here in Malaysia for having a gay character, but "Suami Aku Seorang Kaki Perempuan" is totally fine.
— Mark™ (@MG92_2) March 13, 2017
While Disney always has been a progressive and inclusive company, this is the first bold step for them towards depicting gay characters on screen.
Beauty And The Beast release postponed indefinitely due to homosexual content? Really Malaysia?
— Annatasha Saifol (@monkeydisease) March 13, 2017
The Huffington Post reports that Emma Watson downplayed the significance of gay character Lefou in Beauty And The Beast.
“I think that what’s so fantastic about Josh’s performance is that it’s so subtle,” Watson said.
“I don’t want people going into this movie thinking that there’s like a huge narrative there. There really isn’t. It’s incredibly subtle, and it’s kind of a play on having the audience go, ‘Is it, or is it not?’ I think it’s fun. I love the ambiguity there.”
For Emma Watson, the company’s inclusion of a gay character on screen isn’t directly in front of the audience the whole time–in fact, it’s a very faint inclusion that makes a bit of sense considering who the characters are.
That’s what gives this whole narrative an interesting spin. As Watson said, Disney didn’t give the gay character in Beauty And The Beast too much of a spotlight. It was more of just a slight addition. Perhaps recognizing the level of subtleness in Lefou could be enough to sway countries like Malaysia to allow the film to be shown.
beauty and the beast was my motivation for the month, and 3 days before the release date we've been told it's cancelled off? 🙁
— lalers (@aliadfaisal) March 13, 2017
For now, the entire Twittersphere will continue to voice their displeasure with Disney’s move to cancel showings of Beauty And The Beast in Malaysia–particularly those that live in Malaysia and were looking forward to its release.
While many on Twitter are saying that Beauty And The Beast is banned in Malaysia, we want to make it very clear that Disney is pulling the strings here, not Malaysia. Disney has postponed the release of Beauty And The Beast in the country because of Malaysia’s film censorship laws.
Beauty And The Beast will be released in the United States on March 17, 2017. It stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, and Josh Gad.
[Featured Image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]