The new “Beauty and the Beast” doesn’t open until March 17, but Disney’s marketing team has probably already suffered several convulsions.
The internet lit up with opinions last week when director Bill Condon revealed the live-action reboot would feature a “nice, exclusively gay moment,” whatever that means. Condon had said too much, igniting understandable concerns about the details of this plot point: LeFou (Josh Gad), obsequious manservant to the dastardly Gaston (Luke Evans), would be “somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings.”
On one hand, Condon’s words indicated we might see a coming-out story in a Disney release, a progressive move for a studio that has barely hinted at overt LGBTQ inclusiveness. (Last year, for example, director Andrew Stanton wouldn’t confirm that a purported lesbian couple appeared in a “Finding Dory” scene.) On the other hand, we’ve got a flamboyant sidekick pining for a burly straight man, which isn’t exactly “exclusively gay” ― or maybe it is, because, again, what in the world does that even mean?
In a tale as old as time, the internet was flooded with premature reactions. The takes were hot, especially considering the movie hadn’t yet screened for press. No one knew how Condon’s revelation would actually play out, but some outlets had already condemned the development. (Naturally, the conservative side of the spectrum was even more reactionary. An Alabama theater refused to show the film. Sigh.)