Judging by ticket sales numbers and the packed theater that we encountered Saturday morning, it seems that the majority of movie goers have chosen to ignore calls from ultra-conservatives to boycott Disney’s new live action remake of Beauty and the Beast. If you missed it, the “controversy” surrounds villainous sidekick LeFou, played by the voice of Olaf, Josh Gad, Disney’s first openly gay character. Apparently there are some that are upset at Disney for trying to push their LGBT agenda on our poor, unsuspecting children.
My child was completely oblivious. LeFou acts stereotypically effeminate, stares longingly at his good buddy Gaston (Luke Evans), and dances with another man for less time than it took me to type this sentence. If I hadn’t been looking for it, it’s possible I would have been just as unaware.
To tell the truth, it wan’t even the gayest thing that we watched together this week. During a recent episode of the cartoon Star vs the Forces of Evil, one of the characters looks around at a boy band concert to find that everyone else in the audience is part of a couple and kissing their partners, including two same sex couples. The main character in Nickelodeon’s The Loud House has a best friend whose parents are a gay, interracial couple.
One of the main story lines of this season of Supergirl has revolved around the coming out of Alex Danvers, adoptive sister of Supergirl Kara Danvers, and her relationship with policewoman Maggie Sawyer. After watching the episode where they officially became a couple, it led to this conversation:
“Wait, girls can have girlfriends, not just boyfriends?”
“Absolutely. People don’t choose who they love.”
“Oh, OK. Why isn’t Wonder Woman ever on this show?”
“I don’t know honey. That’s a great question.”
There is a moment in Beauty and the Beast that I think is important, one that matters precisely because it has evoked no controversy whatsoever that I have heard. When the curse is finally lifted and The Beast reverts back to his human form, so too do all his servants. This leads to joyous reunions between the wardrobe, Madame de Garderobe, ( Audra McDonald ) and her harpsichord husband Cadenza ( Stanley Tucci ) and the candelabra Lumiere ( Ewan McGregor ) and his wife the feather duster Plumette ( Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Its a more romantic moment than anything that happens between the titular characters and departs from the cartoon by showing both of these couples to be inter-racial. This is something that shouldn’t be a big deal, but not very far in the past would have led to calls of boycott of its own.
As absurd as I find some of the things that people are still outraged by, our children are being exposed to more diversity than ever before, both on screen and off. How they react to that diversity will be determined by how we react to it. Sometimes the biggest sign of progress is when there is no reaction at all.