I’m not someone who consider themselves a “Disney Person.” I bring this up, not to knock people who do, but to point out that my engagement with the brand is passive at best. Not getting into the whole ethics surrounding Disney, because we’d be here all day and honestly, I have to go clean my home—my opinions are generally net-positive (by a slight margin) on the brand. Mainly because when I was younger, some of my fondest memories were of my mom taking me to the movies to go see their excellent slate of films released in the late ’80s and early ’90s, one of which is Beauty and the Beast. I can still tell you which theater we saw it in, and how my mom and I were absolutely blown away by the dance scene towards the end, due to the new-at-the-time computer-generated background. I loved it then, and when Disney+ launched this week, I was excited to watch it again because I (wrongly) assumed that I would love it now. Uh, times have changed.
This movie is absolutely horrific, for a number of reasons.
The Workers are Punished for the Sins of Their Employer
So at six, this was lost upon me, but dudes—the curse inflicted upon the castle where the a-hole prince is turned into a beast for his ugly behavior is f*cked up. Not because of what happens to the prince, I always preferred the beast to the human anyway. No, because of what happens to his staff—they all get turned into f*cking anthropomorphic household items indicative of what their role at the castle was at the time of the curse. What kind of bitch of a fairy does that? Why punish the entire household for the sins of their employer?! It wasn’t their fault! Presumably, they were fine to the fairy when she came to the castle and was treated like s*it by the Prince. Yet, not only does she decide to mess with their entire lives, she forces them into a life of servitude to a Prince, who by the fairy’s own account, is a real s*itheel. THEN, their entire lives being restored to normal is tied to the same Prince, who again is a f*cking asshole, falling in love. Their future is tied to the Prince’s and his behavior. They have no say in anything and have to work for this jackass of a boss, indefinitely.
As if it’s not insulting enough, rather than be mutinous to the Beast, they cheerfully serve him. When Belle comes to the castle, they do a whole song and dance routine about how happy they are to do anything for her. What kind of message does that send, especially in 2019—that workers should cheerfully accept any s*it their employer throws their way, and do it with a grin and a smile? Hell no. The whole thing is bonkers and completely messed up.
The “Romance” is Truly Deranged
Look, enough has been written about the f*cked up “romance” between Belle and Beast I don’t really need to get into it. My main issue here is that it’s basically Belle’s job to change the Beast so that the curse is lifted, and in the intervening years he has done no personal examination of his own behavior, or exhibited any growth even though it was made very clear to him what he had to do to lift the curse. How often are women told that if they worked a little harder on the relationship, the man will change and things will get better? Here it is in action, baby!
Let’s not forget their whole friendship is based on him turning into a rage-monster when she went into the forbidden portion of the castle and he freaked out at her, causing her to flee into the forest to be attacked by wolves. He rescues her, gets injured in the process, and of course blames her for everything because that’s what abusive men do. She then tends to his wounds and they reach some level of understanding or something. I don’t know. All I know is if someone freaked out at me like that in the real world, they wouldn’t get a second chance because in the immortal words of Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost…
Yet, sure, they fall in love because why not? The love of a good woman changes everything, I guess.
A Relationship is More Important Than Everything Else
When we meet Belle in the beginning of the movie, she’s pretty happy just hanging out with her weirdo father and reading books. At no point does she indicate that she’s looking for a relationship—she’s more or less just looking to escape from her “provincial life.” I guess it’s just shorthand that every woman in the whole wide world really wants a relationship with a Prince and not just a quiet corner to be left alone in to read as many books as she can, in this lifetime. So really, that’s on me for not picking that up at the beginning of the movie.
Granted, the Beast has that massive library, so I guess that’s Belle sorted then, right? Marriage to a Prince who was transformed by her love (like that’s not going to lead to some fun arguments in the future “you knew what you were getting in to when you married me. I already changed, Belle, take it or leave it.” ) and a big old library to hide out from him, when he has another rage-fit. Cool.
Bonus: Where did Mrs. Potts get Chip From?
We’ll never have an answer here, but what is the story behind Mrs. Potts and Chip? He’s like six, and she’s presumably in her sixties (Angela Lansbury was 66 when the film was released, and when she’s turned back into a human, she’s fully white-haired.)
We have a few options here: Was working for the Prince so stressful that it pre-maturely aged Mrs. Potts? Did the Prince kill Chip’s biological parents for accidentally spilling a glass of wine one evening? Is Chip the love-child of the Prince and is being graciously raised by Mrs. Potts as her own? What is the story here? Who are the other-cup children and who are their parents?!
Why does Mrs. Potts refer to them as Chip’s brothers and sisters? Why is Chip her favorite? I want answers!
Honestly, I’d rather the entire movie focused on Mrs. Potts and her “children” and not the “romance” between Belle and the Beast because there’s clearly more of a story, here.
Image sources (in order of posting): Disney+, Disney+, Disney+