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Why I Haven't Been Trusting Disney With My Kids and Other Thoughts About the Beauty and the Beast Controversy

I usually avoid controversial topics, ya'll. In real life and online I'm not a controversial person. Most of the time I'll bite my tongue and think in my head of all the things I could say. But once my buttons are well and thoroughly pushed...I don't back down either.

And so here we are. I've been reading the Beauty and the Beast buzz for weeks now. When the first few articles about "Disney's Exclusively Gay Moment" first began to come out, I started doing my research. You see, I have a raving Beauty and the Beast fan who lives in my house. And it's always been one of my favorite Disney movies as well. So the Courtney household has been eagerly anticipating this movie.

I first started seeing conservative Christians bashing the movie and threatening boycotts long before I ever read a review from someone who had actually had a preview of it. That in itself perturbed me. Conservative Christians are often the first to jump in and claim that the media blows things out of proportion and isn't to be trusted. But when the media gives an indication that Disney may be celebrating a "gay moment" somehow this same not-to-be-trusted media is fully credible, and we're going to form our opinions based on what we've read.

Beauty and the Beast movie controversy
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So when I finally had the opportunity, I began to read the reviews of people who had actually, you know, seen the movie. And, not to my surprise, it seemed that once again the media had made a mountain out of a molehill. But the Conservative Christian boycotting and bashing didn't stop. In fact it's built to a crescendo. Articles and posts and Facebook posts and tweets condemning the movie and condemning Christians who have chosen to see it continue. And many of these are coming from people who...guess what...haven't even seen the movie!

I finally was able to see the movie this weekend. (I'll admit that I've actually seen it twice now because it is AMAZING.) But when I went to the theater I almost felt like I needed to go undercover. Maybe I should hide and pretend to buy a ticket to some other less horrendous to Christians movie. Now that I've seen the movie, however, I feel as if I can finally give an opinion. 

So here goes...my thoughts about the Beauty and the Beast controversy...for what it's worth.

What actually happens in the movie is hardly noticeable and wouldn't be noticeable to someone who hadn't read all the negative press.

Let's pretend that we've never read the media articles about "Disney's Exclusively Gay Moment." I've heard Christian parents who seem legitimately concerned that their kids might be exposed to something really bad if they watch this movie. But here's the thing. Unless your kids are very astute or are old enough to have been reading Facebook comments, they'll never suspect that anything is different about the way the characters in this movie act.

LeFou is a comical character. He makes some comments to and about Gaston that we- because we're adults and have been reading all the buzz- can interpret as an interest in Gaston that goes beyond friendship. But, because he's a comical character, we could also interpret them as just meant to be humorous. Or as hero worship- which is certainly the case at the beginning of the movie.

There is a moment in which one of the male characters who's following Gaston is dressed up as a woman by the attacking wardrobe. His comrades are disgusted with their female clothing, but he doesn't seem concerned. He smiles at the wardrobe who tells him to "Go and be free!" Again, we who have read all the buzz can jump on this and say, "Ah ha! Here's a man who likes to dress like a woman. He's gay." But those who haven't read the buzz- including your young children- will just see it as a humorous moment. How many male cartoon characters have you seen dressed as women in any number of kids' movies. I can think of many off hand.

The "exclusively gay moment" happens at the end of the movie. In the great final dance, partners are whirling off to other partners and LeFou ends up with the man who enjoyed his feminine dress. The two sort of smile before the camera quickly cuts away. And when the whole floor is seen, you don't see any male pair dancing. Again, we can point out the gay moment because we've read all the buzz. Kids will see a comical pairing of two characters who have been funny characters throughout the movie.

I've heard this argument: The director and some of the stars of the movie are proud of the fact that Disney created an "exclusively gay moment." So, even if it might not be very noticeable on screen, we know that they're trying to "normalize" this behavior and condition movie watchers to accept sin as okay.

I'll deal more with the "normalizing sin and conditioning movie watchers to accept sin as okay" later. But let's consider the fact that these elements were added to the movie purposely by directors, writers, etc. who agree with the behavior and want to send a positive message about it. 

Do you know how many directors of how many movies and television shows think that sin is okay? Do you know how many times they've included sinful elements in their shows and shown them in a positive light? Do you boycott all their shows? Do you look up every single movie and television show you watch and find out the spiritual beliefs of all the directors, actors, screenwriters before you watch them? Perhaps you do. If that's your conviction, then you probably don't watch much mainline media. But if you haven't done that with every single show you've watched, why does it matter that this particular director and cast supported this particular behavior. Might boycotting this be a double standard if you aren't that careful about other media you consume?

I have never, ever "trusted Disney with my kids."

Some of the most interesting comments I've seen in regards to the movie are those people who have seemed genuinely shocked that a Disney movie is promoting homosexual love. Why? Why are they shocked? Disney has never, ever, ever claimed to be a Christian establishment. Never.

I saw a blog post that was apparently pretty popular in which the blogger was explaining how this decision on the part of Disney to include this "exclusively gay moment" had caused her family to cancel their upcoming Disney trip so that they weren't supporting this organization. Really?

Did she not realize that Disney has, for a long time, hosted Gay Days? Disney's support of the homosexual lifestyle has not been a secret, folks. Why would we except this entertainment giant to do anything except what they've always done? In fact, why would we consider it shocking that any mainstream media company would "normalize" sin?

The Bible tells us over and over and over again that we are strangers, aliens, in the culture in which we live. Why are we surprised when a lost culture acts...lost? There are much wiser, more astute people than me who have written articles along these lines, but I'll say that I don't think that mainline media sets the tone for or determines how people will act. Instead art- of all forms- reflects the culture.

Disney didn't throw in homosexual overtones in Beauty and the Beast to turn your children into homosexuals. They added these elements into the movie because art reflects culture, and culturally that lifestyle is becoming more and more accepted and normal. It's the same reason that in television shows and movies, you can rarely find intact, two parent- one mom, one dad- families. The media producers aren't trying to brainwash parents into divorcing or abusing their children or having affairs. They're showing this in the programs they create because it reflects the current culture around us.

One of the recent article titles I've seen was "Do You Trust Disney with Your Kids?" (The article, by the way, is from Desiring God and is really well done!) This title made me really think. The answer to that question for Christian parents should be, "Absolutely not!" But that should have been our answer ALL ALONG, not just after this movie came along. We shouldn't trust Disney or any other media company with our kids. We shouldn't even trust a Christian media company with our kids. Because it's our job as the parents to evaluate what our kids are going to see and hear.

It's not our job to hide them away from all media- in my opinion. Media reflects the culture around us, and we can't hide our children from all of the culture. Instead, it's our job to evaluate and to decide when and how they need to learn about the worldview they're going to face in our current culture.

Beauty and the Beast movie controversy

If you are boycotting this movie because of a gay moment, have you boycotted other movies for other sins?

I'm going to state my position clearly. I believe the Bible is God's infallible Word. I believe that it gives guidelines that those who claim to be believers should follow in order to live a Christlike life. I believe that there are absolutes in the Bible and that some things are absolutely wrong- sin. I believe that living life in the homosexual lifestyle is a sin. But...I believe that there are many, many, many other things that are absolute sins. I do them every day. And I believe that a sin is a sin is a sin.

There are people who argue this point. "But homosexuality is called an abomination." Yes. It is. But do you know some of the other things God calls an abomination? Lying, murder, sowing discord among fellow believers (Prov. 6:16-19), arrogance (Prov.16:5), vain offerings (pretending to worship God with no real heart) (Isaiah 1:13), being devious (Prov. 21:27), a proud heart (Prov. 16:5), justifying yourself before God (Luke 16:15)- these are just a few things called an abomination in the Bible. I'll be the first to admit that I've been guilty of some of these. Do you watch movies and television shows that feature any of these sins?

The only verse I could find in the Bible that separates sexual sin from other sin is 1 Corinthians 6:18-
 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. And this verse refers to sexual sins in general- not homosexuality in particular. It also doesn't call those sins worse. It just says those sins are different than others because sexual sins are committed against the body- affecting the body- as opposed to outside of the body.

I don't understand why people are so upset about this movie and are boycotting it if they have watched most any mainline movie or television show recently. Have you watched movies where people had affairs? Have you watched movies where people were lying and justifying it? Have you watched movies where people were proud and arrogant? Do you storm Facebook and boycott those movies? Why not?

Perhaps one reason that an unbelieving world pegs Christians as harsh, legalistic, and intolerant is because of the way we act toward each other.

So many times Christians are labeled unkind, intolerant, harsh, unloving. Yet we know that's not what Christ wants the world to know us for. John 13:35 says By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. I'm pretty sure that some of the comments, posts, articles that I've seen recently don't do a good job of making Christians known for loving one another.

I'm not talking about living out a conviction in your own life and family. If you are convicted not to see a certain movie or go to a certain place or read a certain book, by all means follow that conviction. If you aren't taking your family to Beauty and the Beast because you have a genuine conviction that it isn't the right decision, then listen to God's leading and don't go.

But, at the same time, be aware of how your posts and comments affect unbelievers. If you have blasted the movie with harsh words about homosexuality but you don't avoid movies with other sins are you coming across as hypocritical? If you blast other Christians who are saying it's okay to watch the movie are you coming across as judgmental?  Whatever decisions we make about that line that we won't cross, those things we won't watch, we need to make sure that our conduct toward other believers and toward unbelievers reflects Christ.

I'm not sure that Jesus would have loudly and vehemently boycotted a movie. He was well known for angering the "righteous" people by hanging out with those who had a bad reputation, going to the places where they were, talking to them. His harsh words were usually saved for the hypocritical, self-righteous people around Him.


So there you go. I've seen the movie. I've read other reviews and many, many, many posts. And these things keep sticking with me, keep coming to mind. When it's all said and done, don't make your decision about the movie because you're jumping on a social media bandwagon. Instead, prayerfully consider what God's leading you to do. And show love and compassion for unbelievers and other believers alike in the way that you carry out God's leading. 



4 comments:

  1. I agree with you. As a conservative Christian myself I find it embarrassing sometimes to see others "taking a stand" on something without having all the facts or fully thinking it through. I think Matthew 23:23 applies here: "For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith."

    I appreciate your closing comment: "...prayerfully consider what God's leading you to do. And show love and compassion for unbelievers and other believers alike in the way that you carry out God's leading." Thanks so much for sharing!

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  2. I agree with you, Karla. Thank you!

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  3. I agree wholeheartedly with your post. Thank you for speaking up on this subject, and doing so in a informed manner. Since I posted that I saw the movie and loved it last night, I have had several Christians come back and say they will not support movies or actors that participate in scenes they don't believe in. I wonder if they only do this after reading all the media buzz, or they really research before watching any kind of movie or tv show. Another thing was about the violence, but if they have seen the original cartoon version, the mob scene storming the castle to "kill the beast" was a lie scarier was a lot scarier than the live action scene was. There was even comic relief in the live movie that made it less serious and caused us to laugh. Violence is real in this world, and not completely avoidable. It is something we must talk about with our children as they grow up. All in all, the movie was amazing and I will be going back in 2 weeks to see it again for my birthday. Then I will be getting the DVD so we can watch it over and over again like I did as a child with the cartoon movie.

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  4. I agree in that we should hold the same Biblical standards to all we watch and allow our children to view. Hence, Beauty and the Beast would definitely not be show that a Christian family should view - nor should the Little Mermaid, How to Train Your Dragon and most videos made by Disney, Pixar, etc. Be careful little eyes what you see for your Father up above is looking down in love ... we have a higher standard to hold ourselves up to - it's time to stop living in the grey. Perhaps it's time to ditch the t.v. altogether? Not much is produced to encourage a godly lifestyle in Hollywood.

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