Monday, June 26, 2017

Further Thoughts on Beauty and the Beast 2017

Hello Everyone!

Today I thought I’d take a break from my more in depth writing for future posts to go back to my thoughts on 2017 Beauty and the Beast.

I know exactly how I feel about the film itself. I hate it. But I am unsure about my thoughts about the (bullshit) feminist/sjw changes made to it. In my heart I know I am a feminist, and I do believe feminism, actual feminism, still has a needed place in 2017. But more and more I am seeing feminism being reduced to nothing more than a female supremacy movement. If the better parts of the ideology are to survive, there must be a schism made from the bullshit perversions of what feminism is now, which is why I use the term “Alt Feminism” to describe my views. 

Feminism, true feminism, is something I feel can benefit both genders in different ways. What makes Beauty and the Beast all the more enraging is that for many young girls, the female heroines they see in media or in books are their first exposure to the core feminist ideals of women’s equality and female personhood. Belle, as she was in the 1991 movie, was the perfect feminist heroine for young girls in the nineties. I’ve never been a fan of the more condescending aspects of modern feminism, and I feel like those aspects became more popular in the nineties.

Belle on the other hand was subtle, and that’s why I would prefer her for my daughter as opposed to a character like She-Ra. She had a normalized, genuine, organic, naturally occurring sense of herself and her right to pursue whatever she wanted from life (which is a core belief of feminism) that was a part of her persona. Her story didn’t require extra plot machinations to demonstrate it. Such an idea probably didn’t even cross her creator’s minds. 

This is the reason I hated the remake so much. In attempting to add feminist aspects to the film that didn’t need to be there, Emma Watson ended up ruining a perfect story. A lot of her desires and changes can be summed up in this article and as you will read, many of her thoughts were at best irrelevant and at worst disingenuous and condescending to Belle’s character. And what is most hilarious (and somewhat enraging) is that where more openly feminist changes to the film could have been made that would have made sense made the changes weren’t made! The best example of this is the backstory regarding Belle’s mother. I won’t give any spoilers, but know the backstory wasn’t necessary in this remake of the film. 

However, if the writers felt the need to add to the story to emphasize Belle’s feminism, there was something the writers COULD have done with the mother’s backstory that not only would have been very feminist and genuine and could have tied together well with why Maurice was so secretive about what happened to Belle’s mother in the first place. It also would have been very historically accurate considering the time that Beauty and the Beast takes place in. 

But instead of writing in this idea, the writers shot themselves in the foot and totally fucked it up. Even with the extremely subtle implications (probably the only subtle thing in this fucking film) of similarities between the fates of Belle’s mother and Beasts’ mother, it just did not work and honestly could have been removed from the film completely and nothing would have been missed. Like THAT was what Maurice was trying to protect Belle from? Really??

Like I’ve said before, I probably could have accepted these things if they did not end up sacrificing many aspects of what made the film so great. I feel like this is most evident in Belle’s relationships with Gaston and the Beast, the latter being the biggest sacrifice made for Mss. Watson’s feminist agenda. Lack of chemistry between the actors aside, the Beast is written horribly; clearly having no interest in Belle or breaking the spell on him and his companions and is an all-around condescending and awful person. He accuses her father of theft, goes off on his servants when they give her a room in the castle and suggest she could help break the spell and even the scene where he “gives” the library to Belle doesn’t seem all the way genuine. 

Compare this to the 1991 film where it’s seen he clearly still has some humanity left in him (whereas the 2017 Beast seemed not to have much to begin with and the spell just did away with what was left) and cares for Belle in his own way but at first does not know how to show it. He clearly regrets when he loses his temper and frightens Belle, and has enough care for her to save her from the wolves. Ever after, his attempts to get closer to her, while clumsy at times, still come off at much more genuine than in the remake. Even though you know that the film is destined to have a happy ending, you can actually enjoy seeing these two people fall in love and believe in their love too. I believed in the love between Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as much as I believe in the love of an awkward couple’s video on PornHub. Belle just comes off as frigid and the Beast is a jerk for most of the film and only halfway melts into an overly fawning cuckhold.

It’s really frustrating because many feminists accuse the Disney Princess franchise of chauvinism and selling unrealistic romantic expectations to little girls but out of all the princesses pre-Mulan, Belle’s love with the Beast in my mind is the most realistic and the most genuine. In many ways it is similar to the romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Predjudice, one of the greatest fictional romances of all time. The remake on the other hand just came off as more of a weird feminist fantasy of the asshole turned over-accommodating beta male with no agency of his own outside of the love he has for his fabulously feminist pillow brat. 

Which brings me to Gaston; and Lefou to a lesser extent. Before I continue let me just say this: there was no reason to make Lefou openly gay. Anyone who didn’t already know he was gay just from watching the 1991 film is a fool. Contrary to popular feminst/sjw belief, sometimes subtle subtext is actually better than openly stating something and anyone with the ability to understand and swallow nuance could easily have easily seen the homoerotic undercurrents flowing between Gaston and Lefou without needing to state them. All Disney has accomplished by this change is getting a lot of anti-gay family groups mad at them, which is admittedly hilarious. Not that I give a single shit about their opinions, it’s just the principle of the matter. 

In any case, Gaston, next to Frollo, is my favorite Disney Villain. The reason being that also like Frollo, Gaston is a not an exaggerated evil person. Yes he is evil but what makes him a great villain (and all the more sinister) is that he is someone who could very well exist in real life. I’m sure every girl reading this has encountered a man similar to Gaston at some point in their lives. 

But, much to my horror, I actually kind of liked Gaston’s character in the 2017 remake. I owe that in part to the talent of Luke Evans, but still, Gaston was a lot more, I don’t know, human in this remake. I really liked the bromance between him and Lefou too. He seemed to genuinely care for Belle in his own way (a lot more than Beast did for a good portion of the film), and his thoughts about her and their world seemed to be bred not so much from ignorance or masculine indulgence but from the fact that he really didn’t know any other world outside of their village and war. He’s not a blatant asshole, just kind of a clumsy but slightly endearing boor; in some ways not at all unlike the character of Gilbert Blythe in the Anne of Green Gables book series. 

Mix that with Emma Watson's natural awkwardness and general frigid nature throughout the film, it's never actually explained why Belle does not like Gaston. I mean sure anyone who knows the original story knows why but since none of his more horrible traits are shown until much later into the film we can only be left with having an awkward and ironic sense of sympathy for the black haired brute. It’s only when things begin to really REALLY not go his way that his character (rather rapidly) juxtaposes into the sinister Gaston that we all know and love (hate? Lol).


Once again I am at risk of becoming hyperbolic if I am not already guilty of it. Honestly while I understand that Disney is remaking all of these classics more for the new generation of children to enjoy them rather than for raging nostalgic fangirls like myself, I just wish they would have left this one alone. Beauty and the Beast was such a beautiful, emotional film that honestly even if they didn’t attempt to push a feminist agenda and got another actress besides Emma Watson, it still would have paled in comparison with the original. Sometimes, rarely, you come upon a perfect film. Perfect characters, perfect story, perfect everything. That was what Beauty and the Beast was.

Yours Jasmine

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