Friday, March 3, 2017

Only in the South (?): Alabama theatre pulls planned showings of "Beauty & the Beast remake

The original story of Beauty & the Beast, which has been loosely adapted by Hollywood in a number of ways in the last 25, nearly 30 years, didn't have any gay characters.

There was a time, not long ago, when the name Disney stood for wholesome, family-friendly entertainment. Walt Disney's vision has been warped and tampered with by the present day obsession with societal inclusion, such that a live-action remake of the kid-friendly musical adaptation of Beauty, due to open in 2 weeks, has seen a supporting character reimagined as gay, if for no other reason than to address the LGBT community, which some media outlets seem to think is still under-served.

Suffice to say, this won't play well in the Bible Belt, and won't play at all at a Christian-owned drive-in in Henegar, Alabama, which changed ownership right before the holidays. The current owners took to Facebook to express their opinions behind their decision, stating that they wouldn't feel comfortable bringing their grandchildren to see the movie.

It was one thing when Disney allowed for the inclusion of a talking teapot in the 1990's animated reimagining of the tale, as that was for a different reason entirely, to sell toys, especially in McDonald's Happy Meals. The decision made by the screenwriters of the new version to turn LeFou, the aide-de-camp of the film's villain, Gaston, gay, is meant to illustrate the confusion that LeFou (Josh Gad, ex-The Comedians) has over his sexual identity, something that a lot of people today are facing. The problem is, the film is still being marketed for kids as well as adults, and it's a slippery slope that Walt Disney never imagined his company would ever approach.

LeFou, then, becomes the latest pre-existing character in any form of literature to be turned gay just for the sake of filling a perceived need in the audience, something Walt Disney Pictures' corporate step-sister, Marvel Comics, has had an issue with for several years. I've written before about how difficult it is to just organically create an original gay character in the comics. Archie Comics has done that successfully, and DC, less so (Bunker of the Teen Titans), but DC and Marvel both have struggled otherwise with creating new, original gay characters. Every single character that Marvel has outed in the last decade had not been gay previously. Save for Bunker, the same applies to DC. The CW's Arrowverse family of series and Riverdale, for a few examples, have prominent gay characters. In the case of Riverdale, one pre-existing character, Marmaduke "Moose" Mason, who has had a long-running relationship in the books with a steady girlfriend, has instead been rebooted for television as a bi-sexual, as the show's creator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, chose not to use the girlfriend (Midge Klump) just yet. Aguirre-Sacasa just couldn't develop a partner for Riverdale's only openly gay teen, Kevin Keller, for the show, for whatever reason, and opted to turn Moose instead.

Sad to say, looking at recent ratings, the first year series is showing a rapid decline, largely because of fan apathy over the overall misuse of the concept. Digression over.

Henegar may not be the only town that doesn't run "Beauty" when it opens on St. Patrick's Day. We just don't know yet if anyone else will follow their lead. Just figure on the ones that do being also based in Bible Belt territory.

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