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17 March 2017 @ 01:59 am
Beauty and the Beast  
It's no secret that I take issue with some of the messages in Disney movies. I hate how 90% of the time, everyone looks exactly like what they are. Heroes are attractive, villains are ugly (exception for Snow White's Evil Queen), fat people are jolly, women have crazy-long hair. And until recently, with minimal exception, the girl stories end with a wedding, while the boy stories end with a coronation. Okay, not Pinochio, and not Jungle Book. But come on.

So...Beauty and the Beast is being retold, and parents and chicks are going goo-goo for it.

I don't mind telling you that I have never understood the appeal of this story.
An old man steals a rose from a giant, wealthy-looking estate. He gives it to his daughter. We find out that the estate is owned by a beast. Literally, a hairy cloven-hooved person with a foul temperament and a distaste for all people.
What's his problem? Well, one night an old lady came to him for help. He refused to help her. So she cursed him with ugliness.
Later, the girl stays with the beast, and they end up falling in love. That somehow breaks the spell and the beast turns into a hero--by which I mean he becomes handsome.

Really? I mean...REALLY?

Sometimes Beast breaks the spell by finding it in his heart to love a beautiful young woman who is also the sweetest, kindest person who ever lived. Sounds like she wouldn't be particularly difficult to love, right?
Sometimes the amazing part is that the woman falls in love with beast. Because what woman could possibly love an ugly person with a foul temper (insert Melania Drumpf joke here)?

So at best, this is a story about a dickish man who was mean to an old lady, but learned to be kind to a hot young girl.
At worst, it's a story about an abusive relationship where the woman gradually accepts that this is probably the best she'll do. Or maybe it's a story about how loving an awful man long enough will change him into someone better.
Do women really need the message that if you stay with a mean, abusive man long enough, he'll eventually become the person you want him to be? Are you fucking kidding me? Is Disney kidding all of us?

Seriously...until Twilight (which is similar, thematically) this was the worst story ever in terms of the lessons it teaches young women. I mean, Cinderella is pretty bad. And most Disney women do sit around waiting for someone to rescue them (until very recently). But this one seems far worse than even the usual Disney fare.

Am I missing something? What is it about this story that people respond to?
Is it the music? The talking clock?
Why does anyone like this? Why would anyone let their kid near it?
I'd really like to know.

*********Actually dudes, I posted this on Dreamwidth and am crossposting it here. It doesn't mean I love you any less. Honest. On Dreamwidth? Add me: "Wednes."
Color Me: aggravatedaggravated
'Ff'lo: bobby hillfflo on March 17th, 2017 05:16 pm (UTC)
Great post. You really underscore how you hardly have to take even half a step back from that one to see what a load of crap it is.

I remember having a beef with The Ugly Duckling having the "happy" ending of the ugly creature no longer being ugly, and then remembering that beef when I heard that a girl who loves an ugly beast gets rewarded with his not being ugly any more, completely undermining what I thought was the moral--- that learning to see beyond conventional beauty standards will be rewarded. Now I'm realizing that my little-kid self way didn't get what they were going for. And who could? What ARE they going for? You can change a mean man if you're pretty and nice enough? Or, from the male perspective, you can be as shitty as you want to the old and ugly, there's always gonna be some young hot babe who'll deludedly think you're all that, and then you might as well be, cuz your codependent will have your back?

Sometimes I really just hate humanity and culture and the thorough bullshittery of it all.
crowjoycrowjoy on March 17th, 2017 05:53 pm (UTC)
I loved in Shrek (the first one) how the breaking of the curse didn't make Shrek a dude, it made Fiona... an ogre! Gasp!
'Ff'lo: bobby hillfflo on March 17th, 2017 06:00 pm (UTC)
Yehhhh. Shrek rules. :)
'Ff'lo: shrek made of typefflo on March 17th, 2017 06:01 pm (UTC)
oops, shoulda used this icon
Wednesday Lee Fridaywednes on March 18th, 2017 01:31 am (UTC)
That made me really happy the first time I saw it, as I was totally prepared for the opposite.
Wednesday Lee Friday: Really?wednes on March 18th, 2017 01:29 am (UTC)
Yes! I had a similar reaction to the Ugly Duckling as a kid. Like, really? The point is that eventually you won't be "ugly" anymore? What if you are? The tacit message being that ugliness is bad no matter what.

I have a very vivid memory of being in a public library reading "fashion magazines" for teenagers, which is already kinda fucked up. This was an older mag, in the archives. There was an article basically about how to conduct yourself with other people, and how sometimes people would have things that were different about them (bad hair, wears glasses, freckles, braces, etc). They made a list, and put an asterisk by all the things you shouldn't make fun of people for because it's "not their fault." And of course, one of those list items was being "too fat or too thin."

The message I got loud and clear (at around age 10) was that even outside the awful people I was surrounded by in real life, that it was perfectly okay to make fun of a fat person. And if I didn't like it, the answer was to become less fat. That never inspired me to change myself. I've never truly believed that was possible. And the few times I did get skinny, it didn't change the way my harshest tormentors treated me. So it all made me sad. It was years before I realized that fashion magazines made most people feel bad. Yet they were still really popular for some reason.

I almost wonder if what draws people to fashion mags is the same emotional urge that draws people to horror. This "I know I'm gonna hear/see something that will devastate me, but it's not entirely real so it's okay."

Is that a digression? I can't even tell. ;-)
crowjoycrowjoy on March 17th, 2017 05:58 pm (UTC)
If you haven't seen this http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/shows/the-real-beauty-and-the-beast/0/3394874 give it a look. The real story is so much more horrible. Except, but, because... SPOILER!

The "beast" is a guy with a condition who is held in relatively fine captivity and "given" a wife, who actually ends up loving him despite the fact he's a beast and that they're held captive to be amusements and side show fodder. The most horrid part is how, when they have children, those who inherited his condition were taken away and given to other monarchs as exotic pets. There are no words.

Surprisingly the Disney version just doesn't get to THAT part of the story. Huh!
Wednesday Lee Friday: Wut?  JoJowednes on March 18th, 2017 01:30 am (UTC)
Holy shit. I had no idea.