Good job, Disney.
The studio has been going on some dubious “equal representation” drive in its movies lately, which involves depicting certain groups of people on screen. I am all for giving more opportunities for minority groups like Asians, Hispanics and the LGBTQ community a place to shine. But not when it’s forced down our throats like some kind of PR gimmick. Disney’s latest stunt seems to be backfiring on them.
“Beauty And The Beast” director Bill Condon recently revealed to UK magazine Attitude that he made one of the characters, Le Fou, a gay man, with the full blessing of the studio. He said that Le Fou will have “a nice, exclusively gay moment”, whatever that means. This came out of the blue, for no apparent reason other than to generate some buzz. I suppose Condon believes it’s to show how the character of Gaston was so idolised that even men desired him. But is that essential to any of the character development, or the plot? Nope. Frankly, there was no need for the character to be gay. Disney: If you really want to honour the gay community, how about writing an original character and putting him/her into a new movie, instead of conveniently piggy-backing on long-established pop culture? It’s lazy, and I’d argue it’s actually patronising to gays.
Anyway, the move has gotten so much attention that certain places are already considering a ban. One of those places is our wonderful Malaysia, long held as an upstanding bastion of gay and human rights (this is sarcasm). Today, word came via local press like The Star that the release date for the movie has been postponed “indefinitely”, due to an “internal review”. This was revealed in an email from Disney’s Malaysian arm of their film distribution network. The movie was originally scheduled to premiere 16th March, which is just a couple of days away.
Also, no further reason for the postponement was given, and there was no indication of what the new release date would be. A Disney spokesman declined to comment further when contacted by The Star today.
All major cinema chains including GSC, TGV and MBO Cinemas have taken down the movie from their listings. Elsewhere around the world, Russia has has imposed restrictions on the film, with children under the age of 16 banned from watching it. A drive-through cinema in Alabama, USA, has also banned the movie. Ultimately, this isn’t going to hurt the movie’s Box Office prospects all that much, as it’s a guaranteed cash cow. But this needless controversy both brings up the inherent prejudice of some authorities, and exposes Disney as a PC crusader without much sincerity put into their crusades.
“Beauty And The Beast” stars Emma Watson, Kevin Kline, Sir Ian McKellen, Josh Gad, Luke Evans, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Dan Stevens, Audra McDonald, Stanley Tucci, and Ewan McGregor.