Disney sparks some ‘beastly’ backlash

Although the new live-action “Beauty and the Beast” film doesn’t officially come out until Friday, one character already ‘came out’ to the public last week. The film’s most recent trailer showed Gaston’s sidekick LeFou dancing with another man, and the film’s director has since confirmed the character’s homosexuality. Many people have reacted by boycotting the film and encouraging others to do the same.

Probably the most well known example of this reaction is the Alabama couple that announced their refusal to screen the movie at their theater, citing their Christian beliefs as the main reason behind the decision. In a statement released by the Henagar Drive-In, the owners said, “If we cannot take our 11-year-old granddaughter and 8-year-old grandson to see a movie, we have no business watching it.”

Here’s my problem with that logic.

According to the Henagar Drive-In’s website, they are currently screening the movie “A Dog’s Purpose,” which features several characters who abuse alcohol and one who physically assaults his spouse. I’m curious as to why the owners feel that these scenes are more appropriate for their grandchildren than a scene with two men dancing.

Although I personally don’t believe that being gay is a sin, those that do should afford homosexuality the same treatment as any other sin when it comes to popular culture. If you won’t watch a movie with a gay character for moral reasons, you certainly shouldn’t watch a movie that features murder, lying, or adultery. To say that sins like these are excusable in fiction for the sake of an entertaining plot, but refuse to give the same pardon to a gay character is nothing but hypocritical.

Another common argument against the inclusion of gay characters in children’s entertainment is that it normalizes same-sex relationships. Evangelist Franklin Graham expressed this concern in a recent Facebook post, saying, “They’re trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children. I hope Christians everywhere will say no to Disney.”

Disney has faced similar backlash in years past for hinting at same-sex relationships in “Frozen” and “Finding Dory.” Graham’s claims that Disney has been supporting the LGBT “agenda,” but it seems to me that their only agenda is to be accepted and represented.

Disney has no need to normalize same-sex relationships because they’re already becoming a normal part of our culture although they are not nearly as common as heterosexual relationships.

If the objective is to shield children from knowing about the existence of same-sex couples, boycotting the movie would accomplish nothing. The fact is that gay people exist, and, chances are, children will encounter them at some point in time, whether or not it’s through a Disney movie. If parents believe that homosexuality is immoral, they should discuss it with their children instead of attempting to shelter them from it.

Other parents have expressed concerns that seeing a gay character in “Beauty and the Beast” will encourage their child to be gay. First of all, the idea that a scene which only lasts a few seconds could shape the course of a person’s life seems extremely unlikely to me.

Also, if parents are concerned about unorthodox onscreen relationships leaving an impression on their child, why aren’t they worried that seeing a woman fall in love with a beast will make children want to settle down with a nice buffalo?

LeFou’s sexuality is probably more of a publicity stunt to start conversations about the upcoming film than anything. However, assuming children even notice the dancing scene, I think the inclusion of a gay character has more positive implications than negative, because it emphasizes the film’s message about showing kindness to those who are different.