It was the juicy bit of scandal we’ve long known about even before Beauty and the Beast was given the live action treatment by director Bill Condon: that Le Fou, Gaston’s loyal and unquestioning sidekick, has it bad for the vain hunter in question. And yet, apparently, for god-fearing Southerners who can’t pick up on subtle sexual tensions unless they’re hit over the head with it, the implication of Le Fou being gay was bearable—but not the actual declaration by Walt Disney Studios that he is.
This is why one Alabama movie theater is saying “na na” to screening the forthcoming remake. Granted, the Henagar Drive-In theater in DeKalb County is, well, a drive-in theater, and therefore probably only generally accommodates those type of people still clinging to a bygone era of red meat dinners, milk-heavy breakfasts and clean, family fun (or just light necking for “going steady” couples). Regardless, shouldn’t those who have sequestered themselves in a Pleasantville sort of bubble occasionally be exposed to the “sinful” nature of the real world?
According to the company that currently owns the theater: “We are first and foremost Christians. We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches. We will continue to show family-oriented films so you can feel free to come watch wholesome movies without worrying about sex, nudity, homosexuality and foul language.” And now let us borrow a line from Mean Girls in response to this extremely mind and time warped thinking: “And on the third day, God created the Remington bolt-action rifle so that Man could fight the dinosaurs. And the homosexuals.”
While homophobes and narrow-minded folk are always to be taken with a grain of salt, there is something particularly disheartening about Beauty and the Beast being treated in this manner. As Bill Condon recently told Attitude magazine, the decision to make Le Fou gay is, in part, an homage to the original animated film’s lyricist, Howard Ashman, who contributed to the prevalence of the Beast’s lines after being diagnosed with AIDS and wanting to imbue the narrative with a metaphor for persecution and misunderstanding.
Twenty-six years later, it seems the persecution and misunderstanding persists, making Condon’s assessment of Ashman and his incurable condition entirely accurate when likening him to the Beast: “He was cursed, and this curse had brought sorrow on all those people who loved him, and maybe there was a chance for a miracle—and a way for the curse to be lifted.” Alas, it seems the curse of bigotry can’t be lifted from Alabama.