By Diana Chandler
NASHVILLE (BP) — A gay plot twist in Disney’s upcoming live-action “Beauty and the Beast” continues to stir discontent among Christians, with an online poll at Faith Driven Consumer (FDC) among the latest to voice displeasure.
The poll reports 95 percent of 6,700 consumers said they are less likely to see the film because of an intimate attraction the bumbling LeFou character expresses toward the villainous Gaston. And 94 percent of those polled said they will likely spend less money on all Disney offerings as a whole, the online forum of 41 million Americans reported March 14.
“There are many complex realities in the world that Faith Driven Consumers simply do not wish to have addressed with their children via entertainment, especially in a family movie,” FDC founder Chris Stone said in announcing the poll results March 14. “Beauty and the Beast — previously an acceptable family film — is now being used, as its director proudly revealed, to promote a message that is in conflict with deeply held tenets of Faith Driven Consumers’ religious beliefs.”
Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon has described the plot twist as “an exclusively gay moment” with a surprise ending.
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Condon has said. “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh [actor Josh Gad] 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.”
The FDC poll was released the same day Disney announced plans to pull Beauty and the Beast from the market in Malaysia, rather than allow the Film Censorship Board there to delete the gay scene, the Los Angeles Times reported. In Muslim-majority Malaysia, gay sex is illegal and punishable by whipping and up to 20 years in prison, the Times said. Russia is reportedly limiting the film to audiences age 16 and older.
The Christian entertainment website Movieguide.com has advised discretion when allowing even older children to view the film, giving it a “-1” rating.
“This live action version has inserted some gratuitous, politically correct homosexual references surrounding the villain’s sidekick,” Movieguide founder and publisher Ted Baehr wrote at movieguide.org. “This content doesn’t fit in with the rest of the movie and seems forced. It’s also annoying and offensive.”
In the FDC poll, 58 percent of consumers said they believe Disney’s primary motivation in adding the gay scene was “to normalize homosexuality;” nearly a fifth, 19 percent, said the company was trying “to be intentionally inclusive of LGBT people,” and 15 percent speculated Disney wanted “to reject biblical Christian values regarding homosexuality.”
A small portion of those polled at FDC, three percent, said Disney was trying to accommodate its diverse workforce and “reflect real-world diversity.” About four percent of consumers at FDC said Disney is equally inclusive of Christian views.
“Faith Driven Consumers understand the LGBT community’s goal for inclusion by Hollywood and Corporate America,” FDC’s Stone wrote. “This decision by Disney, like so many others, disconnects FDCs — 41 million potential movie-goers — from the film, putting Disney and its shareholders at financial risk.”
Beauty and the Beast has received backlash from Christians since news of the gay scene was disclosed two weeks ago in advance of the March 17 opening.
Biblical studies professor Denny Burk blogged that he won’t take his children to see the film.
“I am not going to let a movie studio communicate to my children that sexual immorality is ‘normal and natural,'” Burk, on faculty at Boyce College of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote March 1 at dennyburk.com. “Disney has put me and many other parents like me in the position of having to explain to very small children why this movie is bad for them. But we will do it.”
A theater in Henagar, Ala., pulled the film from its lineup because the gay scene conflicts with the owners’ Christian beliefs.
“If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me,” Henagar Drive-In owner Carol Laney wrote on Facebook, “then we have no business showing it.”
The One Million Moms advocacy group for children has collected more than 62,000 signatures on an online petition against the film, saying the movie unnecessarily introduces homosexual content “too early and too soon” in children’s lives.
Read a related report from Baptist Press here.