So a few days ago the director of the upcoming live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast revealed in an interview that LeFou will be Disney’s first openly gay character. There has been a lot of hype about this. ‘This Disney film is going to make history’ and all that.
Predictably, there are people who are now boycotting the movie, because Homophobia™. One theater in Alabama is actually refusing to show the film at all; their reasoning is, in their words, that “when companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand.” Some people are literally even threatening to boycott Disney altogether. Kind of pathetic.
On one hand, finally having LGBT+ representation in a Disney film is wonderful. On the other, this might not be so much of a ‘film history’ kind of moment as people are expecting. This Cosmopolitan article (spoiler alert to anyone who reads it!) describes the scene which director Bill Condon had called an ‘exclusively gay moment’.
There has also been a lot of talk about why LeFou was a poor choice of a character to be given this storyline. If you aren’t familiar with Beauty and the Beast, LeFou is the cunning and doting sidekick of the movie’s villain, Gaston. His name literally translates to ‘the fool’ and ‘the madman’. In the original film, while not romantically desiring him, LeFou hugely respects and looks up to Gaston, and puts up with a great deal of abuse from him. He is loyal to Gaston despite being physically thrown, punched and hit in the head with the barrel of a gun. This is all shown as comedic relief, of course, and LeFou’s purpose pretty much seems to be existing as comic relief too. Possibly not the best and most respectful choice for Disney’s first gay character?
I’m still very excited to watch Beauty and the Beast when it comes out in New Zealand cinemas, and I’m happy that Disney has finally gotten around to writing an openly gay character. While I don’t want to completely make my mind up before seeing the film, I’m not going to have my hopes up. Based on what I’ve heard, the representation is subtle enough to not be worth the hype surrounding it.