On Disney's Meaningless Queer 'Activism'

On Disney's Meaningless Queer 'Activism'

"Beauty and The Beast" does not warrant celebration.

The Walt Disney Company

In the 2017 live action film "Beauty and the Beast," Disney's first openly gay character made his debut. The fact that the film was going to have a gay character was revealed before the release of the film and was, in fact, a central part of the film's marketing. But as it turns out, the moment was barely anything.

It's one brief moment that is incredibly easy to miss if you aren't specifically looking for it. Ultimately, the entire story is still an intensely heteronormative one about a straight romance. Not only that, but the gay character in question is a villain, thus adding to Disney's years of queer-coded bad guys.

What Disney is doing in "Beauty and the Beast" is something profoundly cynical. It is no secret that there is barely any queer representation in mainstream media. So Disney is using our desire to see our lives reflected on screen in order to make a profit.

The "gay moment" in the film amounts to almost nothing. Perhaps, we should not be surprised by this. In our current political climate, when a white supremacist is the most powerful man in the world, capitalists have been doing anything they can to make themselves seem progressive.

But when capitalists engage in activism, it isn't because they want to do good; it's because they want to define themselves as good capitalists. But there is no such thing as a good capitalist.

This is exactly what is happening in "Beauty and the Beast." Disney wants to define itself as queer friendly, but they don't want to do anything meaningful to advance queer liberation. They are only interested in offering us scraps.

This becomes even more apparent with Disney's political stances or lack thereof. Earlier this week, Josh Gad, the actor who plays the gay character, refused to endorse marriage equality in Australia as he didn't, "need the controversy."

Furthermore, Disney's CEO, Bob Iger, sits on Trump's advisory board. I don't know how any company that claims to support queer people can support a man like Trump so explicitly.

Ultimately, "Beauty and the Beast" is not something worth celebrating. As a queer person, I'd be happy if they made meaningful contributions to queer politics, rather than using our struggle to make a profit.
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