Beauty and the Beast Controversy: How Malaysia Finally Reconciled the ‘Gay Moment’ Outrage


Malaysia also had a fair share of the Beauty and the Beast controversy, as homosexual activity is illegal under both secular and religious laws in the country.

The inclusion of a gay character in the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast”, has led to an outrageous uproar in the media across the globe. Disney’s fairy-tale romance, which is a live-action remake of the 1991 animated classic, has one of its characters as gay, a feature which has gotten people really upset.

Brief summary of the 1991 Movie

Till date, the original movie “Beauty and the Beast” has remained on the lips of people both adult and children. The fairy-tale animation which was released in 1991, still leaves even the oldest person with some nostalgic feelings whenever it resurfaces.

To awaken the nostalgia, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a story about the relationship between a Beast – a once handsome prince who was magically transformed into a monster, as punishment for his arrogance, and a beautiful young woman whom he imprisons in his castle. With a curse only reversible by finding true love, the beast must win her love in return to become normal again; otherwise, he will remain a monster forever.

See: How South Africa Reacted to Pastor Heward-Mills Anti-Gay Sermon

However in remaking the movie, Director Bill Condon decided to spice things up by adding some twists -a gay character (LeFou). In the new movie. LeFou -Gaston’s sidekick, played by Disney all-star Josh Gad, is gay.

LeFou
LeFou

The “gay scene” sees LeFou flirt with Gaston and later waltzes with another man for a few seconds. According to the director of the movie Bill Condon the gay feature, was one of the adjustments he made to the original tale of the movie.

Beauty and the Beast Controversy

This slight rejiggering however, was followed with massive mixed reactions across the globe. While some groups have endorsed the scene, some frowned upon it and raised calls for its ban.



LeFou2

Debuting the first move, a drive-in theatre in Henegar, Alabama -USA, boycotted the film as a form of protest. On March 2, a representative of the theater posted a message on social media on behalf of the organization, declaring that they would be taking the movie off schedule, because LeFou is gay. This according to the organization, is because homosexuality goes against Christian beliefs.

The Russian government subsequently followed suit. The country gave the movie an adult rating, banning kids younger than 16 from seeing it. In Russia, the movie will be given the restricted certificate to prevent children from watching.

Beauty and the Beast Controversy in Malaysia

Malaysia also had a fair share of the Beauty and the Beast controversy, as homosexual activity is illegal under both secular and religious laws in the country. The Malaysia Film Censorship Board had said the Disney movie would only be approved for release, if the four minutes of gay moment were removed.

The head of the Censorship board who spoke to the press on the issue had said it was highly inappropriate to show the gay scenes, because children would be watching the movie also. However, Disney declined the request. Amid the controversy, local distributors asked the censorship board to review the decision to block the film.

The movie was then submitted to the Film Appeals Committee, a separate body to the censorship board, which has the power to reverse the board’s decision. This was when a consensus on the issue was finally reached.

It was then confirmed on March 21, that the movie “Beauty and the Beast” will be screened in Malaysia without cuts. The censorship board with regards to the gay scene controversy, gave the film a 13-plus age rating. Per the rating, children under the age of 13 are prohibited from seeing the film, unless accompanied by an adult. The blockbuster would be released on March 30, in Malaysia.

The film, starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast, has taken more than $350m (£282m) around the world. According to reports, Beauty and the Beast is on track to make $120m on its opening weekend in the US alone.