There is no way Disney, in all their infinity and beyond wisdom, could have known the world they’d be releasing the live-action Beauty And The Beast into. The director of the film says he was approached about it as long as five years ago. Well before T.P.E. (Trump Presidency Era). But it is remarkable how much this story fits into the post T.P.E. times.
Beauty And The Beast is a story about not judging a book by its cover. It even uses a girl who loves to read books. So clever. But it’s really a little more than that. Because the Beast isn’t just a great book inside of a monstrous cover. He’s also a little monstrous inside. He was cursed to make his outsides match the insides. So Belle doesn’t just decide to look past the cover and see what his story is. She actively goes looking for and pulls out the good. And right now, we are living in a world where we pretty much decide who has good in them and who doesn’t without really trying to get the whole story.
Who we are in the story of Beauty And The Beast, and in the world it’s being told in. In the classic Which Character Are You fashion that I have actually only done once so I’m probably not doing it right (I am a Targaryen, but like a Daenerys Targaryen, not a Mad King), let’s find out:
Are you the BEAST? Do you act like a monster, but have some goodness in you. Somewhere deep down. So deep down, the world can’t see it, and you probably forgot about it yourself? Maybe you think the world made you the monster you are? Maybe you think the world deserves a monster?
Are you GASTON? Are you so arrogant that you think everything you do is right? Do you get mobs riled up after someone you consider to be a monster? After someone you see as a threat to you and your beliefs that you think are best and right?
Are you LeFOU? Do you idolize someone so much, you’ll let them rile you up into anything without getting the full story?
Are you an ENCHANTED OBJECT? Do you make excuses for your Beast, even when he’s being a monster, just because you think there’s something good there? In other words, are you an enabler and letting the Beast continue to be a Beast by not holding him accountable for being a monster?
Are you BELLE? Do you seek out knowledge? Do you believe there’s more to learn and are willing to look deeper? Does your open mind and open heart invite and bring out the best in everyone?
Statistically* there is a much greater likelihood that you are a LeFou or Enchanted Object. There are far too many LeFous and Enchanted Objects. Also a bunch of Beasts and Gastons. And not nearly enough Belles.
And I get it. It’s easy to be those first four. The Beast was cursed for not being nice as a pre-teen orphan. He’s angry at the world for being unfair. Sometimes it is. Sometimes you just want to take things you want when things aren’t right. And Gaston really believes he’s right, so why shouldn’t he push the issue? And it’s easy to be against a Beast and a boor. And it’s even easier to be the follower of someone so confident, or the object with affection. Being Belle is tough. It takes the most work. It requires thinking about… at least two things at once. That what you believe to be true is true, and what someone else believes to be true can also be true.
But what Beauty And The Beast tells us is this:
Stop being a beast. You get from the world what you put into it. If you want to block out all light, you will live in the dark. If you want light, let it in.
And don’t be such a boor. It almost impossible to be 100% right about anything (and I say “almost” because I’m not a boor). You want to believe in yourself, great. But before you tar up the torches, consider the other side may actually have some merit, and maybe you won’t get people needlessly crushed by an armoire.
Be more than a follower. The follower gets used and forgotten. The follower gets buried in snow to wait for developments because the follower doesn’t matter, not even to the Gastons they’re following. They’re a means to an end. Don’t follow. You’re only going to walk into something you have no control of and get yourself and everyone around you hurt.
As for the Enchanted Objects, there’s a lot wrong there. They not only enable the Beast, but they pretty much make sure Belle falls in love with him to save themselves. It’s the Beast who lets her go after she brings out his good. The enchanted objects actually give him some crap for that. Who knows how many more women’s bodies are still in that castle? Not to mention the existential issues they bring up. Was Chip born with a little piece missing? If it happened as the cup, does he return to human form missing a piece? Were Lumiere’s candles his fingers? Were they shorter when he returned to human form? When the Wardrobe came back to human form, were the clothes still inside her?
I think I lost the thread of this thing there. Look, just don’t be any of those guys. Left to themselves, they’d all be dead or permanently cursed. Do the work. Look for the good as much as you can. Especially where you think there is none. Make the world a better place. Be the Belle.
* Based on zero amount of math. More on just a basic empirical observation of the world. Particularly social media… but I stand by my findings.