Beauty and the Beast may be a tale as old as time, but the controversy over Gaston's friend Le Fou's sexuality has led to Russia barring the film from children. However, despite the 16+ rating the film received, it was still a box office hit this past weekend.
Although Beauty and the Beast is a family film, MP Vitaly Milonov called for the film to be banned altogether because of "gay propaganda against minors." This is because the secondary character Le Fou, the brutish Gatson's sidekick, expresses very subtle homosexual undertones.
Milonov weighed in on the film's homosexual references.
"I'm convinced that the main task of the state regarding children is to protect childhood and youth from the filthiness of the world, to preserve children's purity, to block our children off from harmful and dangerous phenomena. And in this case, our shared task is to not allow the release of this musical on the screen under any guise," he said.
The Ministry of Culture, who decides the ratings for films released in Russia, bypassed Milonov's call to ban the movie altogether, and instead gave the film a 16+ plus rating. Now, Beauty and the Beast, a family orientated film, is classified as one for adults only.
However, despite Beauty and the Beast being barred from unaccompanied children seeing the film, it has still been a major hit in Russia, as it has all over the world. This past weekend alone, the film garnered $6 million in profits, which added to its $180 million profits from the worldwide release.
Beauty and the Beast's"gay undertones" clearly didn't stop theatergoers from taking in the musical, as box office numbers in Russia confirm that it has made more than twice the opening weekend gross revenue of 2015's Cinderella.
Although some in the United States were so offended by the "gay character" in Beauty and the Beast that it was taken off the roster of an Alabama cinema, others find the hype to be far overblown.
While Bill Conden, who directed the film, states that he intentionally made Le Fou to be a gay character, in some ways it is so subtle that many people taking their children to see the film might actually miss it. At no point is there any homosexual touching or romance, simply Le Fou pining over his manly friend Gaston.
At the end of the film, Le Fou dances with another man for about 5 seconds, which makes it seem like many are overreacting to the issue and overlooking all of the positives the film has to offer.
Conden spoke of the choice to make Le Fou a gay character.
"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," he said.
Gad, who takes on the "gay character" in Beauty and theBeast,recently told People Magazine that he feels including a gay character in the narrative fits nicely with the film's theme of not judging a book by its cover. Deep down, he says, the movie is about inclusiveness of people (and beasts) of all types.
Despite Russia's long history with homophobia and state-controlled opinions on what children should be exposed to, it appears that most of the public weren't put off by the subtle inclusion of Le Fou's crush on Gaston. It is unclear, however, if parents are bringing their children to the theater or only adults are patronizing the film.
And perhaps Beauty and the Beast can teach people of all nations that every person has their purpose or place in the grand scheme of things: even a very subtly gay Le Fou.
[Featured Image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]