Beauty and the Beast   I just want to get this straight. America is outraged because a musical has a gay moment in it? I’m sorry, isn’t that every musical? You take the gay out of singing and dancing and you’re left with just polka music and a bunch of white people clapping out of rhythm. Beauty and the Beast is a musical about a young woman who is held prisoner in an enchanted castle by some kind of creature that resembles a cross between a giant talking dog and a lion until she develops Stockholm syndrome and has romantic feelings about him or, as I would call it, a typical Saturday at my place. So, let’s get this right, conservative America is upset because there is a gay character in a musical, but not that the heroine has a thing for Rin-Tin-Tin? Houston, I think we have a problem here.   When I heard one of the characters in the live action version of Beauty and the Beast was going to be homosexual, I naturally assumed it was going to be Lumière, an ornate, smug French candlestick that strolls around the mansion without any pants on.  They would either make him gay or have him be a wine drinking, snotty cad who chases underage feather dusters around. This is Disney, the company that never saw a cultural stereotype they could not inflict on the American public.  No, it was the French villainous sidekick LeFou, a minor character, played by Josh Gad in the story. Lumière gets to keep channeling Maurice Chevalier in Gigi. All the movie would have needed was a mime that waves a white flag after the first bullet is fired and the movie would have hit the French trifecta.   I was shocked to discover that a Henagar, Alabama drive-in theater was so outraged that a gay character would be a villain that they refused to show the movie. Wait, I got that wrong. First, I was shocked to discover there were still drive-in theaters, but usually if a movie had a villainous character that was gay that is usually an occasion to break out the Stars and Bars, talk about how television was so much better when The Dukes of Hazzard was on, and have a prayer meeting.  It is a good day in sweet home Alabama. Not on this occasion.   They stated on their Facebook page, "If I can't sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me, then we have no business showing it. I know there will be some that do not agree with this decision. That's fine. We are first and foremost Christians. We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches." That they would continue to show only films like where audiences would not worry "about sex, nudity, homosexuality and foul language.” You know, good old fashion movies that show bullets ripping off people’s head, gratuitous violence, and people punching each other. You know the kind of movies that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would love.   If you honestly think Jesus would be more upset watching a movie where a person has a potty mouth or expresses love, than someone getting punched or beaten, you might want to reread your bible.  I somehow doubt Jesus would ever say, “I was okay with Rambo killing 76 people with a machete. But when he held Col. Troutman’s hand at the end, I vomited in my mouth.”     Henagar, Alabama is a town of 2,344 people in the middle of nowhere, literally nowhere. It is located on top of Sand Mountain. It took them nearly a half a century after founding the town to get around to building a school. Which I am pretty sure is the reason their own post office misspelled the town’s name when it was built. The town’s name is Henagar, not Henegar, after an early settler named George Henegar.  I am not making that up. Please feel free to look this up if you don’t believe me.   Everyone there appears to be white, except for three Hispanics, two Native Americans, and someone who identifies themselves as a Pacific Islander, which I am guessing is just some redneck with a good sense of humor or an individual who wakes up every morning wanting to blow their head off. The biggest cultural event of the year there is their potato festival.   The front page of their city’s website is proud to let visitors know that they have a drive-in. No other businesses or tourist sites are mentioned because “[y]ou just never know what you will find in Henagar.” Given that it is poverty central, I am guessing a couple of meth dealers, six or seven Baptist churches, a few dozen broken down muscle cars sitting in people’s yards, a dollar store, and some streets named after dead Confederate war generals, but I might be wrong.   It was a story that was much to do about nothing. I am sure if a couple of dozen cars show up on a weekend and not one of them needs to be jumped afterwards, it is a successful weekend at the Henagar drive-in. Disney was not going to lose any money by the new owners refusing to show the film. Oh, I am sure three or four people who actually went to the drive-in were outraged that they were not going to get to enjoy a musical on crappy tinny speakers, but I am sure they could survive the two or three months until it showed up on DVD at the nearby Walmart.  In other words, it allowed people in the larger society to express outrage. Conservatives and liberals got to shake their fists at each other. Talking heads rehashed the culture wars. Disney and town of Henagar got a lot of free publicity. Those involved with the film got to take a few bows. It was a win-win situation for everyone.   Then the Russians got involved. They threated not to show Beauty and the Beast in their country because they have a law on the books against gay propaganda directed at children. Never mind that they have given the world perhaps the gayest image ever seen, a shirtless Vladimir Putin riding a horse. That photo looks like something you might have seen on a flyer advertising a gay bathhouse in the 1980s.   Even Elton John looked at that picture and said, “That is too gay for even me.” Putin has a problem with the homosexuals.   First off, how do I say this? Gay does not rub off. No kid has ever watched a movie and went, “I was straight before I saw this thing, but now I want to open a florist shop and follow Cher around.”   If somehow a movie or a television show could make you homosexual, every male who grew up in the 1970s and 80s would be flaming gay. Every game show on television had Charles Nelson Rilley, Paul Lynde, or Rip Taylor on them. These were men that wore scarfs. They might not have been out of the closet, but they rattled the closet door so loudly that you sometimes could hear the question on Hollywood Squares.     All the hit shows were gay. Laverne & Shirley featured the Big Ragu, a man with a perm in the 1950s who sang and danced in a shiny jacket, but never “vo-dee-o- dodoed” with his girlfriend Shirley. The Brady Bunch, Sam was Alice’s beard and Mr. Brady, please. Gomer Pyle, don’t ask, don’t tell, Sgt. Carter. The Jefferson, no straight man walked like George Jefferson. Scooby-Doo, Fred wore an ascot and was amazingly well groomed for someone lurking around dark, abandoned amusement parks and haunted houses. Granted, he was always disappearing with Daphne, but every kid knew that was all for show. It was the 80s after all and he did not want to get beat up. The problem was Shaggy and Scooby were too high on “Scooby snacks” to even notice. Batman and Robin, they lived in a huge mansion, but for some unknown reason still needed to share a bedroom. Gilligan’s Island, you are stuck on island with a gorgeous movie star and a Kansas farm girl, and you are still sharing a bunk with your “little buddy,” gay. Bert and Ernie. I could go on and on and on.   Turns out the Russians decided Beauty and the Beast was okay to show. But still, I thought any movie that has fundamentalist Christians and the former commies upset; that is a movie I must see. What was this gay moment all about? My only problem is even though Disney films are really for adults to enjoy as much as children, I did not want to be that creepy adult that all the other adults look at because he does not have a kid with him. The only thing creepier are those adults that take their kids to R-rated movies and slasher films. You know, the ones where you look at the four-year-old kid and think, “Serial killer in training.”   So, I went to the movie late at night. What did I find? Nothing. I thought I must have fallen asleep or something. Oh, there were a few seconds where LeFou talked about his feelings for Gaston, but I have used the same words describing my love of pizza.   Still, I might have missed something. So, I asked the seven-year-old, who had gone with her mother to the movie, what she thought about the movie. It was then I learned the true horror of the movie. She did not even mention LeFou. It is a musical that little girls love. Which means, if you have a child in your life, you are going to hear those songs sung 500 times over the next six months until you want to play out the Russian roulette scene in The Deer Hunter.  You are going to hear those songs sung in the morning, afternoon, and evening. They are going to sing them. Their friends are going to sing them. That soundtrack will be in your house constantly playing. Fundamentalist Christians are asking, “What are we going to tell the children?” The answer: In about two months, “Please, for the love of God, stop singing those songs.”
Beauty and the Beast   I just want to get this straight. America is outraged because a musical has a gay moment in it? I’m sorry, isn’t that every musical? You take the gay out of singing and dancing and you’re left with just polka music and a bunch of white people clapping out of rhythm. Beauty and the Beast is a musical about a young woman who is held prisoner in an enchanted castle by some kind of creature that resembles a cross between a giant talking dog and a lion until she develops Stockholm syndrome and has romantic feelings about him or, as I would call it, a typical Saturday at my place. So, let’s get this right, conservative America is upset because there is a gay character in a musical, but not that the heroine has a thing for Rin- Tin-Tin? Houston, I think we have a problem here.   When I heard one of the characters in the live action version of Beauty and the Beast was going to be homosexual, I naturally assumed it was going to be Lumière, an ornate, smug French candlestick that strolls around the mansion without any pants on.  They would either make him gay or have him be a wine drinking, snotty cad who chases underage feather dusters around. This is Disney, the company that never saw a cultural stereotype they could not inflict on the American public.  No, it was the French villainous sidekick LeFou, a minor character, played by Josh Gad in the story. Lumière gets to keep channeling Maurice Chevalier in Gigi. All the movie would have needed was a mime that waves a white flag after the first bullet is fired and the movie would have hit the French trifecta.   I was shocked to discover that a Henagar,  Alabama drive-in theater was so outraged that a gay character would be a villain that they refused to show the movie. Wait, I got that wrong. First, I was shocked to discover there were still drive-in theaters, but usually if a movie had a villainous character that was gay that is usually an occasion to break out the Stars and Bars, talk about how television was so much better when The Dukes of Hazzard  was on, and have a prayer meeting.  It is a good day in sweet home Alabama. Not on this occasion.   They stated on their Facebook page, "If I can't sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me, then we have no business showing it. I know there will be some that do not agree with this decision. That's fine. We are first and foremost Christians. We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches." That they would continue to show only films like where audiences would not worry "about sex, nudity, homosexuality and foul language.” You know, good old fashion movies that show bullets ripping off people’s head, gratuitous violence, and people punching each other. You know the kind of movies that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would love.   If you honestly think Jesus would be more upset watching a movie where a person has a potty mouth or expresses love, than someone getting punched or beaten, you might want to reread your bible.  I somehow doubt Jesus would ever say, “I was okay with Rambo killing 76 people with a machete. But when he held Col. Troutman’s hand at the end, I vomited in my mouth.”     Henagar, Alabama is a town of 2,344 people in the middle of nowhere, literally nowhere. It is located on top of Sand Mountain. It took them nearly a half a century after founding the town to get around to building a school. Which I am pretty sure is the reason their own post office misspelled the town’s name when it was built. The town’s name is Henagar, not Henegar, after an early settler named George Henegar.  I am not making that up. Please feel free to look this up if you don’t believe me.   Everyone there appears to be white, except for three Hispanics, two Native Americans, and someone who identifies themselves as a Pacific Islander, which I am guessing is just some redneck with a good sense of humor or an individual who wakes up every morning wanting to blow their head off. The biggest cultural event of the year there is their potato festival.   The front page of their city’s website is proud to let visitors know that they have a drive-in. No other businesses or tourist sites are mentioned because “[y]ou just never know what you will find in Henagar.” Given that it is poverty central, I am guessing a couple of meth dealers, six or seven Baptist churches, a few dozen broken down muscle cars sitting in people’s yards, a dollar store, and some streets named after dead Confederate war generals, but I might be wrong.   It was a story that was much to do about nothing. I am sure if a couple of dozen cars show up on a weekend and not one of them needs to be jumped afterwards, it is a successful weekend at the Henagar drive-in. Disney was not going to lose any money by the new owners refusing to show the film. Oh, I am sure three or four people who actually went to the drive-in were outraged that they were not going to get to enjoy a musical on crappy tinny speakers, but I am sure they could survive the two or three months until it showed up on DVD at the nearby Walmart.  In other words, it allowed people in the larger society to express outrage. Conservatives and liberals got to shake their fists at each other. Talking heads rehashed the culture wars. Disney and town of Henagar got a lot of free publicity. Those involved with the film got to take a few bows. It was a win-win situation for everyone.   Then the Russians got involved. They threated not to show Beauty and the Beast in their country because they have a law on the books against gay propaganda directed at children. Never mind that they have given the world perhaps the gayest image ever seen, a shirtless Vladimir Putin riding a horse. That photo looks like something you might have seen on a flyer advertising a gay bathhouse in the 1980s.   Even Elton John looked at that picture and said, “That is too gay for even me.” Putin has a problem with the homosexuals.   First off, how do I say this? Gay does not rub off. No kid has ever watched a movie and went, “I was straight before I saw this thing, but now I want to open a florist shop and follow Cher around.”   If somehow a movie or a television show could make you homosexual, every male who grew up in the 1970s and 80s would be flaming gay. Every game show on television had Charles Nelson Rilley, Paul Lynde, or Rip Taylor on them. These were men that wore scarfs. They might not have been out of the closet, but they rattled the closet door so loudly that you sometimes could hear the question on Hollywood Squares.     All the hit shows were gay. Laverne & Shirley  featured the Big Ragu, a man with a perm in the 1950s who sang and danced in a shiny jacket, but never “vo-dee-o-dodoed” with his girlfriend Shirley. The Brady Bunch, Sam was Alice’s beard and Mr. Brady, please. Gomer Pyle, don’t ask, don’t tell, Sgt. Carter. The Jefferson, no straight man walked like George Jefferson. Scooby-Doo, Fred wore an ascot and was amazingly well groomed for someone lurking around dark, abandoned amusement parks and haunted houses. Granted, he was always disappearing with Daphne, but every kid knew that was all for show. It was the 80s after all and he did not want to get beat up. The problem was Shaggy and Scooby were too high on “Scooby snacks” to even notice. Batman and Robin, they lived in a huge mansion, but for some unknown reason still needed to share a bedroom. Gilligan’s Island, you are stuck on island with a gorgeous movie star and a Kansas farm girl, and you are still sharing a bunk with your “little buddy,” gay. Bert and Ernie. I could go on and on and on.   Turns out the Russians decided Beauty and the Beast was okay to show. But still, I thought any movie that has fundamentalist Christians and the former commies upset; that is a movie I must see. What was this gay moment all about? My only problem is even though Disney films are really for adults to enjoy as much as children, I did not want to be that creepy adult that all the other adults look at because he does not have a kid with him. The only thing creepier are those adults that take their kids to R-rated movies and slasher films. You know, the ones where you look at the four-year-old kid and think, “Serial killer in training.”   So, I went to the movie late at night. What did I find? Nothing. I thought I must have fallen asleep or something. Oh, there were a few seconds where LeFou talked about his feelings for Gaston, but I have used the same words describing my love of pizza.   Still, I might have missed something. So, I asked the seven-year-old, who had gone with her mother to the movie, what she thought about the movie. It was then I learned the true horror of the movie. She did not even mention LeFou. It is a musical that little girls love. Which means, if you have a child in your life, you are going to hear those songs sung 500 times over the next six months until you want to play out the Russian roulette scene in The Deer Hunter.  You are going to hear those songs sung in the morning, afternoon, and evening. They are going to sing them. Their friends are going to sing them. That soundtrack will be in your house constantly playing. Fundamentalist Christians are asking, “What are we going to tell the children?” The answer: In about two months, “Please, for the love of God, stop singing those songs.”