Today I joined my sister and friends and kids for a matinee of the new all human (in fact, mostly CGI) version of the classic Beauty and the Beast.
Sadly, there was a distinct lack of the gay porn I’ve been hearing so much about, so I had to find something else to amuse me. After 2015’s insipid Cinderella, my hopes were not high.
Beauty and the Beast, released in 1991, was much more my sister’s jam and I have long since sworn off the generic and damaging forumlae on which Disney relies. But there was still an overwhelming sense of nostalgia dry-icing over the popcorn-peppered floor, and swirling around our feet.
The most famous scene, where the Beast whisks Belle around the ballroom in a dress more famous than anything Kate Middleton or Kim Kardashian ever wore, was very satisfying. As an adult, I did wonder what it would be like if, during the most romantic moment of my life, my mother starting singing in a mockney accent. My sister told me afterwards that she looked over at the point where the teapot sings: “Barely even friends, Then somebody bends, Unexpectedly” because she knew I would be smirking. Some things never change.
I have also decided that I will be narrating my thoughts to the tune of A Provincial Life for the foreseeable future. It’s surprisingly fun – try it! For example: I am confused, Where have I parked my car now? I really need to be less shit. And I think that I might find, that I need to walk down here, and so on.
The reveal of the prince at the end is a little disappointing – he was literally much less horny. I wondered if Emma Watson’s Belle might be more than a little frustrated that she didn’t have a chance to get to grips with the more manly Beast. I’m sure she was thinking the same as she found little to like in her less intimidating amour except his eyes.
Disney has invoked the spirit of the age, no doubt unintentionally in this derivative and unimaginative remake. They have provoked the now Trump-empowered bigots into making a huge controversy of the merest flash of equality at the end of the movie. Gaston’s sidekick is no more adoring than he was in the original. The bite mark he sports is less suggestive than the belt he tied round Gaston’s neck in 1991. What really scares these homophobic fearties is that they have lost their power to suppress – what once they hoped went over their children’s heads is now understood and accepted as normal. It must be a terrible conflict for them, preventing their children from watching a story that normalises hiding away from the real world!
Personally I was more appalled that Cogsworth, who I always assumed was gay, was straightened up for the remake. Given the asexual chastity of the majority of Disney characters, it seems almost more damaging to identify the “first” gay character. Can’t we all just assume that some of the characters always were? ‘Is Elsa gay?’ appears as the second suggestion in Google autocomplete. Someone should tell these people they are staring into an empty barn.
The zeitgeist is captured again, as the baying crowd is whipped up like a parody of a Trump rally, recoiling from the image of horror held up before them. If there are not already a dozen edited versions on Facebook with the torch-bearing townsfolk trooping off to confront ‘The Muslim’, then I call dibs on the meme.
The dialogue was cheesy throughout, I nodded off for a while between songs, and the surprisingly moving climax gave way to a clumsy ending with a ridiculously powdered and moustached Ewan McGregor.
But it was a happy end, because I can forgive all its flaws for that fabulous dress.