Monday 20 March 2017

Beauty & The Beast controversy controversy: Movie no gay enough

My 17-year-old daughter WhatsApped me last Thursday: “Did you watch Beauty And The Beastiality?”

I ignored her misspelling and replied not yet.

She had just seen the movie, the title of which is actually Beauty And The Breast. No, wait, I’m thinking of the picture of the nursing mother on the train.

Aiyah, you know what movie I mean.

I asked my teen terror what she thought of it.

She messaged back: “Cheesy and not gay enough.”

Yes, “not gay enough” appears to be a common complaint from those who have seen the live-action remake of the 1991 Disney animated classic.

And can you blame them?

It all started with director Bill Condon telling British gay magazine Attitude about the movie character LeFou, who is sidekick to villain Gaston and is played by Josh Gad.
“LeFou is somebody who one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston.

“He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realising that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it.

“And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
Being a gay magazine, Attitude naturally hyped this up as “a landmark moment for LGBT representation”.

Editor-in-chief Matt Cain said:
“It may have been a long time coming, but this is a watershed moment for Disney. By representing same-sex attraction in this short but explicitly gay scene, the studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural — and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay.”
To some of the latter countries, them’s fightin’ words.

Perhaps hardened by its recent dust-up with North Korea, Malaysia is standing its anti-gay ground against an even more powerful foe — the Walt Disney Company.

The Malaysian censorship board chairman, Mr Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, reportedly said that the board could have allowed the film with “minor” cuts if Condon had not announced that the movie has “a first exclusively gay moment”.
“We could have let it go with potentially minor cut… and this whole thing would not have become an issue. But the moment the ‘gay element’ is thrown into the mix, we had to protect ourselves, so what was initially three seconds, has become more than four minutes.”

Russia is allowing only those over 16 to see the movie, although one lawmaker did try to get it banned.

This is surprising considering that the country hasn’t banned those gay-baiting photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin pursuing outdoor activities without a shirt on.

Closer to home, the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) released a statement about “the gay agenda in Disney’s Beauty And The Beast”.

After citing Attitude magazine, it said:
“NCCS would therefore encourage pastors and church leaders to urge members of their congregations — especially parents — to exercise discretion in guiding young children concerning viewing this movie.”
With all that controversy, if the movie is anything less than wall-to-wall same-sex orgies, you can’t help but feel cock-blocked.

Keep in mind that the movie is rated PG. So forget about orgies, same-sex or otherwise.

What about the “short but explicitly gay scene” touted by the Attitude editor?

I have seen the movie. Got meh?

The “gay moment” that Malaysia wants to censor is during the performance of the song Gaston by Gad.

“The way he dances is... gay, and the dialogue and the lyrics of the song are too,” said Mr Abdul Halim. “In the same scene, he also lifts up his shirt and shows a love bite on his tummy.”

Maybe I haven’t been in enough gay relationships, but why would anyone have a love bite on his tummy?

In his latest interview with Malaysia’s New Straits Times, Mr Abdul Halim said there were three other parts in the movie that were deemed “inappropriate”.

“The first is during the performance of a song, where a male character (Gaston) hugs the other (LeFou) from behind.

“Second is the suggestive song lyrics with sexual innuendos.”

Could he be talking about the line “In a wrestling match, nobody bites like Gaston”? Ohhhh. So that’s how you get a love bite on your tummy!

The third part is at the end of the movie, probably the “nice, exclusively gay moment” that Condon the director was referring to earlier.

To me, the gayest thing in the movie is actually the relationship between Lumiere the candelabra and Cogsworth the clock (played by openly gay Ian McKellen). You don’t know where his hands have been.

Then again, it’s a musical. So the entire movie is a 128-minute “gay moment”.

In another interview, Condon was asked about LeFou’s sexuality and he replied:
“Can I just say, I’m sort of sick of this… It’s such a teeny thing, and it’s been overblown.”
No kidding. And whose fault is that?

Plus, the movie is cheesy too.

- Published in The New Paper, 20 March 2017

UPDATE: A reader points out an error in my column