The upcoming Beauty and the Beast 2017’s openly gay moment is the next step in breaking new ground for Disney. This could be one of the most polarizing decisions in cinema since the Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal romantic drama Brokeback Mountain.
Hollywood has made a lot of steps forward in recent years. The ever-increasing emergence of political correctness, as well as gender and cultural diversity, has made the film industry much more equal opportunity. We’ve seen superhero movie roles played by people of alternate cultures, such as Samuel L. Jackson playing Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch in Fantastic Four. We’ve seen genders changed in Ghostbusters.
It hasn’t always resulted in positive Box Office results, but progress is being made. As the New York Times has pointed out, not everyone is happy about the changes. Conservatives allegedly feel that the LGBTQ lifestyle is wrong and shouldn’t be in movies.
They openly protested Brokeback Mountain for the same reason, unintentionally making it famous. The LGBTQ community did mostly the same thing with Avatar (not the M. Night Shyamalan live-action cartoon adaptation), and it was one of the most successful films of its time.
Being the social battleground that it is, Twitter has been rife with arguments both ways about the upcoming 2017 Beauty and the Beast gay moment. In the scene, the effeminate LeFou (Josh Gad) has a very sexual crush on Gaston (Luke Evans). It might not be mutual, as Gaston is an abusive ladies’ man according to the story.
Of course, Neil Patrick Harris is openly gay and played a womanizing, yet delightful, character in How I Met Your Mother.
Director Bill Condon explained the dynamic being introduced in Disney’s first ever openly gay moment.
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
There won’t be any doubt as to whether or not the gay moment was intentional like there was with The Walking Dead when Daryl (Norman Reedus) fell in with an openly gay couple and teased audiences with the potential. The fact that he never had a female companion fueled the speculation, being the relatively soft-spoken loner that he is.
The Daily Dot‘s Gavia Baker-Whitelaw made the assumption without having seen it that LeFou’s gay portrayal in Beauty and the Beast was actually more of “a dweeb who hopelessly pines after a muscular straight guy.” In that way, it would have been more like a form of “hero worship.”
Disney has been careful about its stereotypes for a long time and likely wouldn’t make that mistake. Their efforts to eliminate their own Song of the South from popular culture are proof of this. It’s also doubtful that the actress who is set to play a lesbian opposite Margot Robbie in a remake of Brokeback Mountain, Emma Watson, would have agreed to play a major role in a movie with an offensively gay stereotype.
Others yet find that the character chosen to represent gay culture actually is offensive, since the name LeFou translates as “the fool,” according to Fox News.
If anyone is wondering how Josh Gad (who isn’t really gay) feels about the whole thing, he responded to a post on Twitter from a gay fan who asked if the rumor was true. Gad said he couldn’t be more “proud of this.”
This is the first time a Disney character has ever been confirmed to be gay, though there have been effeminate or questionably dressed characters before in films like Toy Story (the ascot-wearing Ken) and The Lion King‘s Timon and Pumbaa. The director has confirmed it, so it’s official.
What do you think of Disney’s first openly gay character in 2017’s Beauty and the Beast?
[Featured Image by Walt Disney Pictures]