The much-anticipated live-action remake of the beloved “Beauty and the Beast” is set to release March 17, 2017. If you remember the cartoon version, there are several positive elements in the story and a couple launching points to talk about the gospel. However, the makers of the new film have included a subplot that will likely cause Christian parents to hesitate to take their children to the theater for this one.
The director of the film, Bill Condon, revealed in an interview with the British gay magazine, Attitude, that a character in the film will be gay and that the ending will include a “nice, exclusively gay moment.” The character in question (literally, Condon told reporters, the character questions his sexuality in the beginning of the film) is LeFou, Gaston’s goofy, underdog sidekick. In the cartoon original, Gaston was meant to portray the epitome of male bravado and egotism, so pairing him with the bumbling LeFou provided a delightful character foil and endeared the audience to LeFou. But this foil in the re-make could potentially send some mixed signals to impressionable kids, one of which being: If you want to avoid being egotistical and cruel like Gaston, an alternative is to be kind and gay—like Lefou.
It’s really unfortunate because, like so many other Disney movies, there is incredible potential in “Beauty and the Beast” to illustrate the gospel to children. Consider the following:
The beast represents our fallen, sinful natures
I’ve often wondered if the writer of “Beauty and the Beast” drew inspiration from the story of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 4. In this passage, Nebuchadnezzar is transformed into a beast because of his obstinance toward God and his correction. Nebuchadnezzar’s story is one of having to be forced to repent of selfishness and pride. In a similar way, the Beast is selfish and prideful, especially apparent when Belle first comes to the castle. He is angry and abuses her out of his own wounding. At first, he cannot even respond to her kindness because of his own hatred. The lesson here is that when we are ruled or controlled by our sin natures, we treat people similarly. Sometimes God allows us to be isolated (like he did with Nebuchadnezzar) and feel the pain of loneliness in order to get us to change.
Belle loves the Beast back to his true self
The main plot of the story involves the incredible transformation of the angry Beast, brought on by the unconditional love shown by Belle. To the Beast’s angry outbursts and cold-shoulder-manner, Belle responds with kindness and grace. Despite being held prisoner, Belle is determined to keep her attitude positive and her responses civil. Just like Jesus does for us, Belle chooses to see beyond the Beast’s tough exterior and call out something better in him. To her own hurt, she loves the Beast when he is unlovable and combative. It is her kindness and sacrifice that helps the Beast return to his true self.
The main plot of the film includes the very essence of the gospel. Which is why the subplot leaves Christian parents with a dilemma.
In conclusion, I humbly offer this suggestion to parents
I’d like to suggest (without having seen the movie yet, so take it with a grain of salt) that before you rule this movie off limits for your kids, consider not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Come March 17, parents and caregivers are going to be faced with this decision about the movie: Does the good of the main plot outweigh any negative elements of the subplot? Additionally, can I talk to my child before or after the movie, to explain LeFou’s behavior in a way that is gracious toward gay people while also explaining our family’s position on homosexuality? If you can answer yes to this question, I actually see the movie presenting you and your family with an opportunity to discuss the gospel and a Christ-honoring approach to homosexuals.