This weekend, my husband and I went to see Beauty and the Beast. Major stud points given to my husband for letting me take him on a date to see it! Though it's quite funny, charming, and has it's action moments, it's not exactly a guy movie.
But it was lovely all the same. With a great cast, great costume and set design, great music and great one-liners, the live-action Beauty and the Beast gets two thumbs up from me.
Aside from the usual captivating Disney magic of the film, I wanted to talk about something deeper that stuck with me from about halfway through the movie until the end...
"Kill the Beast"
When it came to this part in the movie, where Gaston is riling up the crowd, effectively turning them into a mob, I was struck by a sudden sense of deja vu.
I thought of the sad state of the world, of my country (the U.S.) in particular. I was reminded instantly of the terrible things that people have said and done to people they deem to be "different." I thought of racism and sexism that I've personally experienced. I thought of the Muslim Ban. I thought of how, for thousands of years, people with darker skin have been marked as evil, dirty, trash, less human…
It's the same burn-the-witch mentality that people have had for centuries. They don't like someone different. They don't like what they cannot relate to or understand. They don't like what makes them uncomfortable. So they create an enemy out of someone who means them no harm. They shut their eyes and ears, they erase the face and the voice, until they've completely dehumanized a person, and relegated them to a number, a statistic, a derogatory term.
People who are dissatisfied with their own lives are always looking for someone to blame for their unhappiness. They think all Muslims will come blow up their children at school. They think "illegals" are keeping them from getting jobs. They think affirmative action kept their child from getting a spot at a university. They blame environmentalist organizations and programs for the death of their particular industry. And I don't presume to know every single person's circumstances, but true instances like the ones I just mentioned are few and far between.
The truth is that the world is changing. It changes everyday. Are things the same as they were when I was child? Absolutely not, and I'm still in my twenties. I come across people all the time who live in a way that I don't personally understand or even agree with. But does that fact alone make them my enemy? No. They may live their life differently than I do, but if they are not harming themselves or anyone else, then they are not a threat to me.
You see, there are beasts in this world. People who would rather stir up chaos and create controversy than have peace. People who would rather win at any cost, than see good prevail for the many. People who deal in fear and hatred, handing them out like tokens at a birthday party. There are those people…
Live-action Gaston reminded me very strongly of someone. I don't know how much of a spoiler this is, but Gaston was his own greatest fan and biggest admirer. He couldn't see anything or anyone beyond what he wanted or needed. He couldn't take 'no' for an answer (we all know that guy). And when attention was turned to him for a negative reason, he created an enemy where there wasn't one. He couldn't get what he wanted, and he needed someone to blame for that.
Let me tell you something. You can spend your life searching for an enemy, always looking over your shoulder and pointing the finger at someone you deem to be a monster. But keep living life that way and, pretty soon, you'll find yourself in a hall of mirrors where the only beast you'll see...is you.
And let us not forget that Gaston doesn't win in the end.
The moral of the story is, we absolutely should kill the beast, just not the beast we immediately think of. We should kill the beast within ourselves. The beasts of hatred, jealousy, racism, bigotry, sexism and xenophobia.
You can't kill the beast by trying to change or get rid of others' differences. You have to kill the beast within by finding the courage and strength to change yourself and your perspective. The truth really will set you free, and the truth is that we are all human, despite our differences.
I really did love the movie, and I hope you'll go see it. You never know what you may learn from a movie made for kids…