Editor’s Note: Babble is a part of The Walt Disney Company.
It was never a matter of “if” my daughter and I were going to see Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast — but when.
Like so many others, I loved the original animated story, and honestly didn’t expect a new version to come out until I was well into old age. But when opening weekend arrived, my daughter and I hopped in the car and headed to the theater.
From my seat, I watched as she oohed and ahhed at the screen. I leaned over close when she turned to ask a question (usually about something that differed from the original). And in the last few minutes of the film, I readied myself for the moment I knew was coming: The much-talked-about “gay moment.” The one that had reportedly sent some people into a frenzy, including those who wondered if the movie would still be appropriate for children.
For weeks, I’d heard the chatter. LeFou, Gaston’s devoted sidekick, would be portrayed as openly gay by actor Josh Gad, who secretly adores Gaston and in one scene, dances with another man. But as I would later learn, there would be another “gay moment” that would have people talking: The scene where the villagers storm the castle in search of the Beast, and the castle fights back. The wardrobe (voiced by Audra McDonald) pelts three men with women’s clothing, giving them an instant “makeover.” And while two are horrified to suddenly be wearing dresses and makeup, the third is overcome with happiness.
The moment is subtle, quick, and honestly, hilarious. But it’s also pretty powerful.
“That was so important,” director Bill Condon told Vulture of the move to diversify the film’s characters. “We [also] have interracial couples — this is a celebration of everybody’s individuality, and that’s what’s exciting about it.”
When I first heard about these changes to the original, it made me want to see the movie even more. Society is diverse, and I want my children to be aware and accepting of people who are different than they are. That starts with showing them all kinds of people — whether it be in movies, on TV, in books, or in real life.
When the “gay moment” finally came, I watched my daughter’s face. She didn’t flinch; she just smiled a little, as the theater around us laughed. No questions, no confusion.
After the movie, she skipped to the car and hopped in, ready to answer a series of questions I always ask her when we screen a new Disney movie. I even set up my camera to capture it all.
“It was amazing!” she screamed.”It’s my new favorite movie!”
Then I asked her why she liked it so much. She had a number of reasons, but told me about her favorite part of the movie.
“At the end they were having a big dance with everyone, with Lumiere and Chip when they’re all human!”
It wasn’t until she started talking about the funny parts that she brought up the “gay moments” on her own.
“The funniest part is when the closet made the boys into girls, and two of the boys didn’t like them and one was like ‘ooooh!’” she explained. “A boy liked a dress, that was so weird!”
For a second, I paused. But then I took the moment as an opportunity to talk about differences — how some boys do like to wear dresses, and how in some cultures that’s even considered the norm. So we shouldn’t call that “weird” just because it’s different to us.
She then called out the part when LeFou danced with another man, but only to say that they danced together and that was a funny part. In the next breath, she was on to talking about her Beauty and the Beast hair style.
You see? No big deal.
If you’re still on the fence about taking your kids to see Beauty and the Beast because you think there’s some over-the-top sexual content they can’t handle, don’t be. There was nothing gratuitous about it — it’s a Disney movie, after all! And if you’re not yet ready to have “the talk” with your child, I’m pretty sure you can go see the movie and most likely leave without it ever coming up. (The messages really are that subtle.)
But, if you want, you could use those tiny moments in the film as I did — to segue into talk about acceptance and love.
This movie wasn’t created to make your kids more accepting of gay people; that’s our job as parents. But it was created to show that love comes in all forms — that is, after all, part of its beauty.
For more of my daughter’s thoughts on the film, check out her 6-year-old Beauty and the Beast review on my blog.