Sunday, March 20, 2011

Beauty and the Beast: Romantic or Abusive?

Beauty and the Beast is a children's animated Walt Disney film celebrated for it's beautiful love story. Belle, a woman gifted with both beauty and brains, turns down the most handsome and sought-after man in town because of his arrogance and conceit. She becomes the prisoner of a terrifying beast to save her father, and falls in love with him despite his monstrosity. Belle looks past the beast's bad qualities to see the good in him. At first glance, the story is seemingly inspiring and contains a good message for children. After watching the film more carefully, however, we can see signs of an abusive relationship, such as the beast's possession of Belle and the harsh way he speaks to her when he loses his temper. This message is potentially dangerous for the film's young viewers; as Belle forgives the Beast for his abusive behavior and focuses only on his positive qualities, she is encouraging other girls to forgive an abusive spouse for unacceptable behavior. While we're on the topic of potentially harmful messages in Disney films, doesn't the ending of Beauty and the Beast undermine the whole moral of the story? Belle falls in love with the beast for his personality, not his looks. However, he turns into a handsome prince once he wins her love. While it may shatter the moral, at least they're both human at the end. Bestiality isn't what we should be preaching to our kids.

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