My Take

Disney’s next film: for whom the Belle tolls

Beauty and the Beast has an openly gay character in LeFou; too bad his sexuality is irrelevant to the wider story

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 March, 2017, 12:31am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 March, 2017, 9:08am

Disney is sticking to its guns over a worldwide backlash from moral and religious censors over its turning the manservant LeFou into an openly gay character in Beauty and the Beast.

Wow, what moral bravery! The children’s film director Bill Condon has denounced the bigotry. Co-star Ewan McGregor poured petrol into the fire by telling reporters there was “a lot of gay sex” in the movie. Alas, moviegoers will be disappointed; there are only 4.5 minutes with LeFou, a minor character, showing affection for his villainous boss and dancing with another man. Some risk Disney is taking.

These days, a little LGBT-chic never hurts. By generating more controversy while staying resolutely politically correct, such Hollywood tactics help boost publicity and therefore sales.

Disney should thank those religious nitwits for obliging, and LGBT activists for reliably coming to the defence. Advice to bigots: the best thing to do in such cases is to shut up and not offer free publicity.

Pardon my cynicism, but it has become a reliable sales tactic du jour. For example, did you know that Professor Dumbledore was gay? It wasn’t revealed until rather late into the book series, when JK Rowling said he was and that he had been since book one. Whatever you say, JK.

Beauty and the Beast gay scene backlash from Singapore to Malaysia and Hong Kong

Though one of the most beloved characters in the Harry Potter series, he was a bit of a rip-off from Merlin in the King Arthur legend and Gandalf in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Were Merlin and Gandalf gay or straight? Who cares? But by making Dumbledore gay, Rowling at least introduced a distinguishing trait to an otherwise derivative literary character.

However, the sexual orientations of Sir Lancelot, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere are intrinsic to the story. For a 21st century update, I suggest Lancelot should have the hot for Arthur rather than Guinevere.

This brings us back to LeFou. It makes zero difference to the movie because his sexuality is as relevant or irrelevant as that of the characters Lumière, Cogsworth, Chip, Mrs Potts and Babette.

However, the gender and sexuality of Belle is crucial. To strike a real blow for LGBT rights, Belle should have been a pretty village boy. The “gay scene” wouldn’t be just 4.5 minutes long, but all of 129 minutes.

Justin Bieber would play a beautiful Belle.