Spoiler alert! The following contains spoilers for the 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast.
That's what many moviegoers are saying after seeing Disney's latest live-action remake, Beauty and the Beast. They're not talking about the overall film, which is getting great reviews (three out of four stars from USA TODAY) and breaking box office records with a $170 million debut, the highest ever for March and the seventh-highest of all time.
The underwhelmed reaction has been to the so-called "exclusively gay moment" in the film, which has caused international controversy since director Bill Condon first mentioned it in an interview with Attitude magazine.
In the interview, Condon said the character LeFou (Josh Gad) would be portrayed as gay. This caused the film to get shelved in Kuwait and Malaysia, to be given a stricter rating in Russian theaters and to be boycotted by one Alabama drive-in.
So what exactly caused all this controversy?
The "gay moment" that Condon was referring to is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot in the film's final seconds. LeFou, the villain Gaston's (Luke Evans) side-kick, dances with a man in the final ball sequence just before the credits roll. There are oblique references to LeFou's sexuality over the course of the film. He is portrayed as having something of an unrequited crush on Gaston, having euphemistic conversations about their relationship and looking longingly at him during the song Gaston.
Outside of LeFou, there is also a sub-text filled moment during the battle sequence in which the wardrobe (Audra McDonald) dresses three men in women's clothes. Two of them run away in fear, while one appears happier in his new garb. This moment, too, is so quick and insignificant in the greater plot of the movie that many audience members may have missed it.
After the film's big opening weekend, many moviegoers described the controversy as much ado about nothing.
"If nobody had said that #LeFou had a 'gay moment' in #BeautyAndTheBeast, I really don't think it would've even been a thing," wrote one Twitter user. "Watched the new #BeautyAndTheBeast movie last night, honestly don't understand what the outrage (about) there being a gay character was (about)," wrote another. Another said that the moment was "soooo overblown and is soooo not a problem" that "the world has gone crazy."
Watched the new #BeautyAndTheBeast movie last night, honestly don't understand what the outrage abt there being a gay character was abt— Wale Gates 🇳🇬🇬🇧 (@walegates) March 20, 2017
#BeautyAndTheBeast "gay scene," as some call it, is soooo overblown and is soooo not a problem... the world has gone crazy!— Shauli Bar-On (@shauli_baron) March 20, 2017
Still, even the fleeting dance between Le Fou and another man was enough to cause spontaneous applause in some screenings of the movie, as multiple users reported on social media. "Best part of my day was when half the theater clapped and cheered when the gay couple came on screen in #BeautyAndTheBeast," reported one audience member.
Best part of my day was when half the theater clapped and cheered when the gay couple came on screen in #BeautyAndTheBeast— Haley Hayes (@reptilequeen17) March 20, 2017
Others who supported the film applauded how much money it was able rack in despite reported "boycotts."
Though the moment was well-received or underwhelming to many audience members, there were some in the LGBT community who thought the representation of a gay character did not go far enough. "I think #BeautyAndTheBeast has some serious logic problems, but as far as a fairy tale goes, it's okay. Also LeFou is not gay enough," one Twitter user wrote.
I think #BeautyAndTheBeast has some serious logic problems, but as far as a fairy tale goes, it's okay. Also LeFou is not gay enough.
— Julie Kirk (@Selhea) March 20, 2017
The sentiment was shared by some LGBT critics and writers.
"Disney can pat itself on its back all it wants for turning a villainous buffoon that was coded as gay in the original film into a morally ambiguous buffoon who is more obviously gay, confides in a teapot, and tries out dancing with a man," wrote Vulture. "Although I adored the movie overall, part of my frustration with it is that I had hoped for more out of Condon’s 'exclusively gay moment,'" The Huffington Post explained. "Instead, I found myself left wondering how long the LGBTQ+ community must wait to see a truly authentic performance of queerness by a main character in a Disney film."
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