When I was much younger, newly graduated from high school, I thought Disney was doing a great thing by making Belle a young woman who loved books, wanted more than her provincial village had to offer, and wasn’t fooled by good looks.
Then I took my four year old to see Beauty and the Beast 3D. And my feminist training caused me to ask questions.
Belle loved books, but the big scene takes place in a ballroom, not the library.
Belle wanted more, but ended up with the same status as her village counterparts, just in a bigger house.
Belle wanted more, but the other young women in the village swooned after Gaston and pumped water with their gravity-defying breasts. (Does anyone else remember that scene being that gross? I wanted to rewind to be certain I’d just seen that.)
I know that’s it’s nostalgia marketing that’s most likely driving the return of this film to theaters under the lame excuse of adding some 3D to a few minutes of wooded footage. Does it also suggest that we’ve made little progress since 1991? I’m not sure, but the fact that I’m asking myself how deeply I should deconstruct the film with my four year old is a bummer. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Just ask Gaston.
“I use antlers in all of my decorating….”