So, I finally got to see the live action Beauty and the Beast. For awhile I had debated whether or not I wanted to spend the money on it, but eventually it won out that I went to a theater. I have many thoughts about it, but let’s get my biggest gripe out of the way first: gay Le Fou.
Le Fou was not gay. Or at least, he was gay in as much as Dumbledore was gay (in the movies, not the books).
In the animated version Le Fou was Gaston’s lacky. The side kick and comic relief. He very clearly wanted to BE Gaston. It was said that in the live action remake it was going to be more clear that he was in love with Gaston. It was not. If anything it was more clear that he wanted to be Gaston. The way he copied his motions, the way he talked to himself in the mirror right after Gaston did it…it just all felt like he was trying to copy Gaston. The ONE moment it felt like he might be actually interested in Gaston was during Gaston’s song and Le Fou found a clever way to wrap Gaston’s arms around himself. But that was the closest thing you could even question.
There was even a moment in the movie where Le Fou could have blatantly said “I’m gay” and he didn’t. Gaston had asked him why no girl had snatched him up yet since he was such a good guy. Le Fou’s answer was “people say I’m too clingy”. That would have been the perfect time to say “I’m not into girls”! I understand that when in that position a lot of people who aren’t out yet will dodge the question and give a “cheat” answer–I’ve done it myself in the past. But for a character that is supposed to be OPENLY GAY, to have them answer in a way that doesn’t affirm that gay identity felt wrong. (Furthermore I wish Gaston had just known that Le Fou was gay instead of it having to be a Thing.)
As far as the “gay moment” goes, it was so small you could blink and miss it. I’m talking less than 30 seconds, at the very end of the movie as the camera pans out. Le Fou, like everyone else in the cast, is in the palace dancing when he starts dancing with another guy. That’s it. In a crowd this size, if people were to misstep this is a thing that could very easily happen to anyone. I didn’t see that they shared any “look”. They danced for mere seconds and simply didn’t act like it was any big deal, like they would if they were swapping dance partners per usual.
Le Fou was also just as pathetic (despite being very well played by Josh Gad) in this version as in the animated version, though he wasn’t any kind of comic relief and did have more of a role. That being the person to try to calm Gaston down and help him keep his temper in check. He was still a minor character though, and in all honesty it still stands that if there was no Le Fou the story wouldn’t be effected at all. So I’m a little upset that Disney made a character that wasn’t important to the plot the gay character.
I’ve heard people say “just be happy Disney is trying”. Okay, but…they aren’t trying? It feels like they are paying lip service to the LGBT community and just doing a thing to be able to say they did it. It doesn’t feel like a genuine attempt by any means, and that makes it feel very cheap. When you make a character that doesn’t really matter to the story gay it feels, in a way, like you’re saying LGBT people (or characters) don’t matter. Or at the very least we are there, but not important enough to get our own stories or even really be recognized. Especially when the supposed gay character doesn’t come across as gay at all. I LOVED when Rowling said Dumbledore was gay, but then was very disappointed when that gayness didn’t even get mentioned in the movies. I didn’t want it to be a conflict of the story, but I wanted it to be known and so obvious that it didn’t take the author confirming it. I didn’t want it to be hidden or ignored. And Disney did the very same thing. They said this character was gay, but they didn’t portray that. They threw in something that could so easily be missed and it doesn’t even really feel like there was a gay character.
So those are my thoughts on the gay Le Fou. VERY underwhelming. As for the rest of the movie?
I think they did a fantastic job with it. The live action went into more detail about what happened to Belle’s mother, which I was very glad about. They also explained what happened to the Beast’s parents, and made him a little bit more of a sympathetic character. And the movie gets points for having Sir Ian McKellen in it…because Sir Ian McKellen. Overall, I much prefer this version over the animated version, but they definitely could have done better with a gay character. Much better. It actually felt like there wasnt a gay character at all. If there hadn’t been all the media hubbub about it before I saw the movie I wouldn’t have even known. That’s not really how you have a gay character.
If I ignore the major way Disney screwed up having their first gay character, then I give this movie a 4 out of 5 stars. If I take into account all the issues I had with Le Fou himself, then it gets dropped down to like a 2 stars. I WISH Disney had done a better job with it, because the movie was amazing. The special effects, (most of) the writing, the storytelling…all of it came together in a really good way to make a very enjoyable movie experience. One I would happily experience again. But if I take into account the great disappointment I felt regarding Le Fou my rating drops dramatically. But I’m not rating this based on one character, I’m rating it based on overall story, effect, and enjoyability. Overall I think I’d give this a 3 out of 5 stars. Perfectly enjoyable, but I can’t ignore the whole Le Fou thing.