Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie, and today I saw it in theaters for the first time. When it was released in 1991 I was too wee to take to the theater, so this was my first time seeing it on the big screen. And, as often happens when we watch Disney movies after having spent some time growing up– I realized some things.
I guess it’s the liberal arts education sinking in, but I couldn’t help analyzing the film, especially the characters. Gaston in particular has always been repulsive to me– probably because I identify strongly with Belle as an intellectual, bookish girl longing for ‘adventure in the great wide somewhere’. However, seeing the film now, I realized that I also find Gaston disgusting for his lack of compassion. The strong-jawed manly man that uses antlers in all of his decorating, and eats five dozen eggs, is definitely not a vegan. He hunts, he fights, and he belittles those weaker than him.
Compassion is about recognizing the suffering of others, something Gaston definitely does not do. In fact, he seeks to capitalize on it, and in turn becomes the villain of the story. And because this is a Disney movie, the villain is always defeated…or in this case he falls off a castle that was built right next to a conveniently placed gorge. Because when you see a giant gorge, you automatically get the urge to build a castle, don’tcha? (Sorry, there’s just so much more to laugh at in Disney movies when you’re all grown up and cynical). However, in our cruel, sadly un-Disney-fied world, those that capitalize on the suffering of others are often rewarded for their actions instead of being stopped.
Further proof that a greater effort needs to be made into making the world more like a Disney movie.
But I suppose if real life were like a Disney movie, animals would talk and then there’d probably be a lot more veggie eaters in the world.
But I guess there’d also be more people like Gaston……hm. It’s the philosophical question of the century :)