The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

LeFou or LeWho?

With the release of Beauty and The Beast this week, we look at the controversy surrounding LeFou and his (possible) homosexuality, and question whether the fuss is worth it

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It’s a tale as old as time, true as they can be, a Disney movie premières and spams our Facebook news-feed. Unless you’ve not been online in the last few weeks you will probably have heard that the new Beauty and the Beast film is out in cinemas.

Although the mass of Facebook Odeon check-ins featuring ‘feeling excited’ emoticons can be easily brushed aside as Disney-lover excessiveness, there are, actually, some bestial debates that you shouldn’t be too hasty to overlook. Like the matter of LeFou and his sexuality. Is it a much ado about nothing or a much ado about something?

In case you have yet to see the film(s), LeFou is Gaston’s sidekick…and Gaston is the antagonist. Oh, and LeFou is apparently gay. “Apparently” is the keyword here, because although it has been confirmed by Disney Studios, and the director himself, to be true, it is a fact that is only alluded to in the film itself.

In fact, this ‘exclusively gay’ moment that has warranted both a banning in Alabama and a postponing in Malaysia, is one that lasts all of two seconds and, quite frankly, one you wouldn’t have noticed unless someone had whispered, “hey, this is a gay bit”.

In the final moments of the film, LeFou is dancing with a woman before being stopped by another man. This is a man that, in a previous scene, had rather enjoyed wearing a dress. The two men begin to dance and the film quickly pans to all the other heterosexual couples looking happy and content.

That’s it. That’s the scene. So, erm, why has it become such a big deal? Well, because it’s 2017 and this ‘gay’ scene is weak at best. This is not to say that anyone was expecting a scene from Brokeback Mountain, but to say that if Disney are to boast about finally having a gay character, shouldn’t it be more…obvious? Some say not. Which leads to some riveting arguments from both sides of the love-it, hate-it divide.

The main argument for against is that although Disney have now acknowledged the existence of the LGBTQ community, it’s all made redundant by its lack of significance and its pantomime-like execution. Indeed, for much of the film LeFou spends his time prancing and sassing around like the true gay stereotype that he is.

It’s hardly original and it’s hardly representative. Given the fact that this film was a guaranteed money-maker and the increased media coverage it received due to its first gay character, it’s not unreasonable to assume that said gay character should leave an impression. If they were going to talk the talk, they should have walked the walk and committed to major changes. Not least because the story revolves around a zoophilia romance. Anything is kid-friendly after that, right?

This being said, the film isn’t about LeFou. It’s about Belle and her weird curiosities. Although the ‘exclusively gay’ moment was, undoubtedly, understated, LeFou is not an integral character. He is a character that serves to support Gaston, hence the room to cast him as gay in the first place.

There are complaints reading, “of course the gay character is a villain” but, pray tell us, which character would have allowed for such a development? Disney are behind, that’s for sure. One only needs to watch Shrek 2 to see this, but surely we should be rejoicing that this leading film company now has the integrity to say, “he’s gay and we won’t recut for anyone.”

Although Disney were merely testing the waters, this doesn’t mean they won’t be bolder next time around. The scene wasn’t extraordinary, but this debatably represents same-sex relationships as, as ordinary, and as unnoticeable, as any other.

This scene was not ground-breaking but it was ground-breaking for Disney, and it paves a promising future. One that involves both magical and cinematic worlds reflecting the one we live in.

So, progress away Disney! Be our guest. Be our guest and put our speculations to the test.