So I decided to pick my favorite Disney princess movie Beauty and the Beast (1991). Obviously the main theme of this movie is not judging a book by its cover. Just because Beast (Robby Benson) is ugly doesn’t mean he’s awful. Just because Gaston (Richard White) is beautiful doesn’t mean he’s good. However, there is definitely more going on here.
There is an interesting Cracked article about Belle having Stockholm syndrome. Another article makes an interesting argument that the town is the middle class, Beast’s castle is the aristocracy, and the fight in the end is a failed revolution. Not to hit you with too many articles, but the last one I want to mention is incredibly interesting talking about how this movie breaks stereotypes. I found these interesting and would love to know any ideas you have as well. Please feel free to leave a comment below.
I want to look at a specific piece of this movie: the beginning with Belle (Paige O’Hara) walking through the town. When the town folk are singing, they describe Belle as “strange”, “funny”, “peculiar” and “a puzzle”. Why does the town find her so strange?
She is beautiful, no one denied that. However, they say she is “different from the rest of [them]”. The main reasons they give for finding her “different” is because she is “dazed and distracted”. She does not belong to a particular group in the town and appears “dreamy”.
However, to the audience, she does not appear that strange. She simply likes to read books. Apparently this town is not as intellectually charged as Belle. That is why they reject her and who she herself wants to leave “this poor provincial” town.
Yes, the town finds Belle strange, but it does not end with her. It seems most of them consider her father crazy. He’s an inventor. Although this does not mean he isn’t insane, but it does show that he has his own intelligence that is a little different from everyone else.
I wonder how anyone in this judgmental town finds anyone “normal”. Is Gaston not strange because he is such a good huntsmen? Is the manager of the asylum not odd because he locks people up he perceives as crazy? Are the slutty girls not strange for flashing their cleavage all over town?
Honestly, I want to know what exactly these people find normal. My interpretation of this scene is if you judge people on a daily basis and agree to discuss it with everyone in town then you belong.
Come back next Thursday!