A Feminist Criticism of Beauty and the Beast

A Feminist Criticism of Beauty and the Beast

Dang, feminists just ruin everything.

As a child, I was in love with the movie, and Belle was my favorite princess. Even now I have out of reach ambitions to become Belle at Disney World. However, as I grow older and my views on feminism, politics, and the world develop, I drift away from the fairy tale I used to love.

Belle is considered a "feminist" princess. She reads and stands up for herself, making sacrifices for her father. As a young child, I thought this was great. I loved to read and was significantly different from every other child (I didn't know it was related to mental illness, I just thought I was a princess), so I related to her. I thought she was strong, and liked her significantly better than Sleeping Beauty, who slept while everyone did the work for her. Aurora was weak, and Belle was strong. Arguably speaking, this was a movie that lead me into feminism, or more appropriately female empowerment.

Now that I'm older, and not a child, I began to see the flaws in here. Beauty and The Beast is a story of Stockholm Syndrome and beastality.

Stockholm Syndrome is, simply put, when a victim falls in love with their kidnapper or captor. This tale romanticizes stockholm syndrome, which some consider to be a serious mental illness as a result of manipulation and psychological torture. Even after the Beast and Belle "fall in love," he still refers to her as his "prisoner."

Beastiality is grotesque and disturbing, but as a child I liked the Beast better when he was the Beast than when he was Adam. The point of the story is that appearances do not matter when it comes to love, but rather the quality of their character. Gaston is notoriously beautiful but an evil character. This is different from other Disney tales, in which the villains are typically "uglier" than the heroes. Ursula is fat, with traits of gluttony, which is considered unacceptable in society. (Keep in mind, I'm speaking in terms of societal expectations; big is beautiful). By twisting the Beast so far beyond humanity, incorporating different animals, it's like Belle did not fall in love with a human, but an animal.

Additionally, the fact that the Beast melted away into a handsome prince practically ruins the "image isn't important" message. Not to bring up Shrek, but Shrek. While it is one of the longest running memes, Shrek actually has a positive message for children watching. Fiona was a not a beautiful princess at the end, but an ogre, and she was still loved.

Another concerning aspect is the fact that Belle is supposedly so beautiful she stands out from the crowd. A lesson girls learn: looks don't matter, unless you're the woman. Her beauty was used as a plot device, and was a driving force in her personality. Even when the Beast talks of Belle, he talks of her beauty. I may be incorrect, but not once does he speak of her intelligence.

The choice to name her "Belle" is a disappointment. It means, beauty. The entire movie is based off of the fact that she's hot. While there is nothing wrong with having an attractive princess, basing her whole character development off it is damaging. Instead of naming her Belle, why not name her Kaya, or Rae, or Sophia? Why put emphasis on her intelligence in the beginning of the movie if her entire character is based off beauty?

The decision to cast Emma Watson as Belle was disappointing, to say the least. I always liked her as Hermione when I was a child, but again as I grew older I developed a better understand. Emma Watson is famous for her feminist rhetoric, but is it positive?

Emma Watson gave a speech to the UN on feminism, and her entire speech was about men. She has never spoken, or so far as I know, about the struggles of trans women, black and brown women, or women in Palestine. She has an elevated platform. When she speaks, people listen to her. But she speaks of the struggles of white women, and nothing else. And if your feminism isn't for all women, it's not feminism. Emma Watson grew up in a wealthy family and went to private school. Her privilege has got her places, and she has yet to acknowledge it.

There has also been quite a bit of controversy surrounding Disney's decision to make LeFou a canonically gay character. Throughout the entire movie, LeFou chased after Gaston, and danced with another man for about two seconds at the very end of the movie. This is a damaging stereotype: an unattractive gay man chases after a conventionally attractive straight man in an almost pathetic manner. This is insulting to Howard Ashman, a gay man who worked on the original Beauty and the Beast, who died of AIDs.

Why am I psychoanalyzing an animated Disney movie? Because this is what our children consume. When I was younger I played pretend that I was kidnapped, and fell in love with my kidnapper, because I watched this movie so much. These movies, which we make mostly for children (or nostalgic adults like myself), and it has a strong influence on them.

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The Top 5 Most Adorable TV Characters

They Have Ruled Our Hearts, Gave us Tears of Joy, as well as Hysterical Fits of Laughter with their Charming Screen Presence

Well, they have ruled our hearts, gave us tears of joy and hysterical laughter with their wit and charm, so let's take a look at some of the most lovable TV characters.

1.) Stewie Griffin ("Family Guy"):

He's a baby, everybody loves babies, you might think that but it's not that simple. He's got the IQ of a rocket scientist, devilish designs, and his heartiest wish is to kill his mother, so he's nothing like a baby. He shares a beautiful bond with his dog which is heartwarming to watch. There are so many interesting angles to his personality which makes it worth it to root for him despite his primal instinct - kill his mother and world domination.

2.) Jake Harper ("Two and a Half Men"):

We have another kid, but he's completely from another dimension. This one can win a contest for the dumbest yet cutest kid. He was the half man from the title but had an equal share in making this show what it was - watchable. He was the butt of many jokes in the show due to his general lack of smarts, understanding of words, and self-confidence, as well as being oblivious to the fact he was being made fun of.

3.) Sheldon Cooper ("The Big Bang Theory"):

You have to give it to the 22-year-old theoretical physicist who played this character to perfection. He is freakishly genius and he knows it, but most importantly he doesn't mind letting others know even if its a cop, a judge, or his friends who suffer the most by his quirky mannerisms including his love for "his spot", details, and trains. His devotion to science is so deep that he is oblivious to social cues, women, and even sarcasm. Although these traits make him intolerable for his friends, strangers or even anyone who crosses paths with him, the same faults make him the reason to watch this show.

4.) Barney Stinson ("How I Met Your Mother"):

We have the man himself - Barney Stinson, the guy who eases "awesomeness" and "legendary" into his character and the show like butter onto bread. He's not just a man- he's a religion, he has his own set of rules, codes, costumes, and theories... about getting laid. He's a God to every loser who sees himself dominating/ pretending to be an Alpha male of society- the man that every girl desires to be with. He is immune to disease, fashion disasters, and even a bad photograph. He has crazy theories that he backs up with fake history tales lied to perfection. His concept of lie is something which defines how awesome he is- "A lie is just a great story ruined by truth."

5.) Joey Tribbiani ("F.R.I.E.N.D.S"):

It wouldn't serve justice to this listicle or to the word adorable if I didn't include Joey Tribbiani- the man who made " How you doin'?" what it is. He is the only person who can be dumb, cute, and funny all at the same time. He was the only character out of the six who had a smile on his face no matter what the situation was. He also senses the emotional needs of his friends and does everything possible to fulfill that need. He is the best character to be with when the chips are down, he can cheer up even Droopie. Joey is funny and he doesn't have to put in any effort to be just that. Maybe the fact that he owns an array of expressions which spill out humor and pour directly into our hearts, is the reason he doesn't have to try to be our favorite.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

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Everything To Love About "Love, Simon"

"Everyone deserves a great love story."

Love, Simon, a film based on the book, “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli came out on March 16th. Since then, it has received an overwhelming amount of positive reviews from movie goers. I went to see the movie last week and was extremely impressed. This movie is exactly what our society needs.

Years ago, the concept of being gay was a taboo and anything involving homosexuality carried a strong stigma. Many creative closeted individuals did not have the freedom to write stories or screenplays with queer characters. After members of the LGBT community became more normalized in society, we started to see the slow rise of films with characters reflecting different sexualities. I have watched multiple movies with queer characters, and ALL of the other ones I’ve seen have been tragedies.

While it is true that the process of coming out and living an authentic life can be difficult for queer people, it is not always tragic. Watching these movies makes people feel like non-heterosexual people cannot have happy endings. Imagine being a 14 year old kid in the closet and watching all these films that end with suicide, depression, or murder. It is easy to see why someone would not want to come out after being exposed to such horrific things. LGBT movies have also always been highly sexualized. Most of them center around the sexual relationships and lack substance. I feel like the writers think that the only appeal LGBT movies can have has to be sex.

The beauty in Love, Simon comes from the fact that none of the things I mentioned above were in the movie. Instead, it was hilarious, emotional and real. The story was raw and relatable for so many people. Simon was a normal high schooler, with best friends, a loving family, and homework to do. He did not fit the “gay” stereotype at all. His clothes were masculine, his voice was deep, and he didn’t love shopping. Simon was not the “Gay best friend” he was just the best friend. Simon was fortunate enough to have all these positive things in his life, which not everyone has. I think that this presentation of his life shows people that their coming out does not have to be tragic.

Simon’s coming out could not have been more realistic. He was outed to his school on an online platform, something that can happen easily in our technological age. He was very affected by this and knew he had to come clean to his family. His sister asked him if he wanted to deny it and he said he was tired of hiding.

His announcement shifted his family for a bit, something completely normal. Some movies have kids come out and show the parents instantly start a pride parade. This is usually not the case, especially when loved ones do not suspect anything. Love, Simon showed his parents trying to adjust to the news. They did not love him any less, but they needed some time to process the information, so that they could do their best for their son. There were days of silence in the family, but the silence was broken in memorable ways.

Simon’s talk with his mom had me in tears. His mom told him that for the past few years, she had felt like he was holding his breath, and tells him, “You can exhale now, Simon.” He could finally breathe and she was letting him know that she wants him to be happy and himself. His father apologized to him for making a lot of gay jokes before his coming out. He did not realize that his words may have been hurting his son, and he tears himself down for not realizing his son was gay. Simon tells him that he has nothing to be sorry about, because his coming out was something that could not be assumed.

Simon’s friends did not treat him any differently after his coming out, meaning that they did not give him any special treatment. They were upset with him for things, and worked it out later. His sexuality was not the issue.

At school, he was bullied by idiots, but he stood up for himself. I think that is something so important for the youth to see. Movies typically show gay kids cowering in a corner while being made fun of. Simon and the other out gay kid (a black character) in his school both stood up for themselves repeatedly, throwing out witty remarks and comments on occasion.

Simon’s online relationship with the other closeted kid in his school exemplified many relationships today. Kids will go online to search for people who they can relate to. With the touch of a button, they can connect with millions going through the same things they are. When Simon meets the person behind the screen, everyone is overjoyed.

The entire film was a masterpiece. Two LGBT characters were people of color. The rest of the cast was diverse as well. The movie did not feature an array of white people, like most movies do. Although there were many serious scenes that had me in tears, there was plenty of levity. The humor was current and made the entire theater laugh.

The representation for queer people in this movie is superb. Multiple members actually came out during the filming of this movie. If that doesn’t show you how positive and powerful this movie is, I don’t know what will. This movie is exactly what LGBT kids needed and I applaud the talented cast, the writers, and everyone else who had anything to do with the creation of this life changing movie.

Cover Image Credit: Pedestrian.tv

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