My family and I are on vacation this week and decided to take in a movie. Disney’s new live-action Beauty and the Beast was the consensus flick of choice, and after reading several reviews online including Plugged In and Common Sense Media due to the significant controversy surrounding the film, we decided to ignore the extreme caution of the conservative, Evangelical right and venture to the local theater excited to take in this reimagining of a favorite family classic.
This live-action version of the film is significantly longer than the original animated version. There are several new songs added in to the already beloved tunes from 1991. The sets and costuming were exquisite, and the special effects were on point as well. Though the storyline contains a few small differences from its previous counterpart, mostly to embellish some of the dramatic elements and enhance the plot development, it remains true to the original and ultimately culminates with a closely similar ending. But enough about that…
What I was most curious about was the handling of the much-debated “exclusively gay moment” alluded to by director Bill Condon prior to the film’s release. In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few weeks, this “moment” involves Gaston’s hopelessly devoted sidekick, LeFou, played by Josh Gad of Disney’s Frozen fame (Olaf). Granted, Gad’s portrayal of LeFou displays some stereotypical, albeit subtle, homosexual tendencies, but in my opinion one has to read between the lines and want that to be a significant part of the storyline when, in fact, it really isn’t. Furthermore, the aforementioned “moment” occurs very near the film’s end in a don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it fashion. Quite honestly, had there never been a big issue made of the situation before the movie’s release, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it or even been looking for it in the first place. I guess what they say is true: there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
And in light of the many “Christians” that have weighed in and proclaimed a boycott against the film–and even Disney itself–a few ideas come to mind:
- Disney isn’t a “Christian” company, nor have they ever claimed to be. So why would we expect them to hold to Biblical values within the entertainment in which they produce? As Pastor Robert Morris often says, “Golfers golf. Hunters hunt. Sinners sin. It’s what they do.”
- While many scoff at the idea of an “exclusively gay moment” in a “family film”, I don’t hear many scoffing at the womanizing and self-absorbed persona of Gaston, nor the countless women throwing themselves at him as the story progresses.
- We’ll even turn a deaf ear to various innuendo and “bathroom humor” contained within countless other films marketed toward children and families in addition to BATB.
- Few seem to be focusing on the overwhelmingly positive message of the film that beauty is more than skin-deep and that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. You know, the whole “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” concept.
- The film also perpetuates the idea that we should show love and acceptance to those different from us, which was a value held by Jesus himself.
Consider these words from 1 John 4:7-8:
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
And also Jesus’ words to His disciples from John 13:35:
“All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.”
Don’t get me wrong–I don’t like that an “exclusively gay moment”, though subtle and fleeting, was included in the film, nor do I enjoy the homosexual ideals that seem to be present in quite a bit of modern entertainment. And it would be easy for me to react by boycotting the film–and even Disney itself (until I remember that Disney owns ESPN).
But then I remember that I have been called to be in the world and not of it. I can’t choose someone’s eternity–heaven or hell–for them; that’s a choice they must make for themselves. I can’t in my own power make anyone right with Jesus. The only thing that I can do in situations like this is to love. Loving doesn’t condone a lifestyle, neither does it compromise one’s values and beliefs. It simply treats others with respect, despite their differences.
After all, I won’t be known as a follower of Christ based on my judgment of others. I won’t be recognized as a child of God for showing hatred. So I will choose to use this as an opportunity to teach my children, and anyone else who will listen, that love is the answer, and here’s why:
“God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.” ~John 3:16-17
For those of you that have seen the movie, I’d love to hear your thoughts. For those of you steering clear, what are the reasons for you making that decision? Feel free to leave a comment below and join the conversation.