I saw Beauty and the Beast recently. I know, I know, spear me. I’m not going to get into the whole ‘gay’ thing, because that’s not what I’m here for. Besides which, I think, if anything else, the gay community should kinda take it as an insult that of all the characters, Disney picked Le Fou, an idiot, coward, and a villain, to represent them. Anyway. There was another message, buried much deeper, that will hurt our children and our society much, much more in the long run. Spoilers coming, but since the movie really hasn’t got much new on the old one, I think this is safe water to tread.
At one point in the movie, Gaston actively tries to murder Maurice, Belle’s father. Le Fou is with him during this. Maurice eventually makes it back to the village, and tries to tell the townsfolk what happened, bringing them very close to turning on Gaston. Gaston, of course, claims that Maurice is crazy. He is, after all, our main villain, so this is expected. The truth rests in the hands of one person, one individual who can turn the tide for better or worse: Le Fou. Everyone looks to him to say what he saw. This could have been an incredibly powerful scene. He could have completely redeemed himself, declaring that, yeah, Gaston is not such a great guy. You can see him struggling with the choice. He decides to lie. This then leads to the attack on the castle, where Gaston meets his end, and so on. Le Fou is meant to disappear at this point. But he doesn’t. Along with the rest of the cruel, bullying villagers, he … gets a happy ending. What’s up with that? Since when do fairytales reward cowardice and lies? You can be a villain the whole movie, but when you see the tide turning, you can join the good guys just like that? That’s not the point of a good fairy tale. The point is that good triumphs and evil perishes. More importantly, this shows a trend in our society that is, quite frankly, alarming. Another example: take the United Airlines scandal. Horrible, yes, absolutely, but not one of those passengers gave up their seats to save the victim. Not one tried to defend him. There was screaming, there was fear, there was outrage, but there was no bravery. No selflessness. Where are the heroes? Where are the courageous souls who would have battled injustice? I don’t pretend to be any better. I’m scared too. Franklin Roosevelt once said that, “Courage is not the absence of fear. The brave man acts in spite of it.” (Or in the eloquent words of John Wayne, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”)
Cowardice is everywhere in our world. The form it seems to take the most is Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO. We are so afraid of the ‘not enough.’ I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, not rich enough, not powerful enough. Worse, the not enough can apply to others. What if he/she isn’t good enough for me, what if someone better comes along? I can’t commit, I can’t give myself, I might miss out on someone better. I can’t anchor myself to this job, to this town, to these people, there are better towns, better people, I’ll come across. We become so afraid of losing even the possibility of a dream, somewhere around the corner, that we forget to live and love what we should already treasure. We are afraid to grow up and plant roots, preferring to be tumble-weeds blown this way and that. We were not made in the image of a tumble-weed, we were made in the image of love and courage, of sacrifice and unconditional surrender. We were made to be solid and rooted deeply in the courage it takes to love. Sometimes, missing out is the best thing that can happen to us. Giving yourself entirely to one person, because you make the decision to love them and cherish them no matter who else comes along, that is true courage.
“Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love.” — Morihei Ueshiba (founder of Aikido martial art)