My critique of Beauty and the Beast

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Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
It's been an interesting past week. I wrote an article with some thoughts on how to talk to kids about the gospel after they watch the new, live-action Beauty and the Beast movie. I've written this sort of thing before about other especially popular kids' movies, and those articles tend to get appreciative responses. I figure it's good to give readers material they say is helpful.

So I wrote about Beauty and the Beast. This time, it meant dealing with the "gay moment" in the movie. As a general rule, I avoid hot-button culture war topics because those discussions tend to be unprofitable; people have trouble pulling away from the culture war to look at Jesus. But in this case I ended up deciding, perhaps foolishly, that I couldn't rightly talk about the gospel and that movie without addressing that moment.

The response has been a huge (for me) number of comments and concerns from readers, mostly via Facebook groups. Some indignantly defending Disney. Some appalled at me being "moralistic." (Really? I tried so hard to move beyond that.) Many appreciative comments as well.

Anyway, I wonder what some of you might think. Did I miss something important in my article? Did the movie hit you the same way it did me?

And most importantly, is there any better way to engage people about the gospel when these culture-war issues are in our faces?

The article is here.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
It's been an interesting past week. I wrote an article with some thoughts on how to talk to kids about the gospel after they watch the new, live-action Beauty and the Beast movie. I've written this sort of thing before about other especially popular kids' movies, and those articles tend to get appreciative responses. I figure it's good to give readers material they say is helpful.

So I wrote about Beauty and the Beast. This time, it meant dealing with the "gay moment" in the movie. As a general rule, I avoid hot-button culture war topics because those discussions tend to be unprofitable; people have trouble pulling away from the culture war to look at Jesus. But in this case I ended up deciding, perhaps foolishly, that I couldn't rightly talk about the gospel and that movie without addressing that moment.

The response has been a huge (for me) number of comments and concerns from readers, mostly via Facebook groups. Some indignantly defending Disney. Some appalled at me being "moralistic." (Really? I tried so hard to move beyond that.) Many appreciative comments as well.

Anyway, I wonder what some of you might think. Did I miss something important in my article? Did the movie hit you the same way it did me?

And most importantly, is there any better way to engage people about the gospel when these culture-war issues are in our faces?

The article is here.
Think my biggest fault with all of this is that Disney is trying to cram PC down our throats big time, but are doing it by bits and pieces, so we Christians will tolerate a small amount of big stuff like this, more and more, and over time we will just accept as normal beauty and beast both being guys, as bell becomes transcender now!
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
Think my biggest fault with all of this is that Disney is trying to cram PC down our throats big time, but are doing it by bits and pieces, so we Christians will tolerate a small amount of big stuff like this, more and more, and over time we will just accept as normal beauty and beast both being guys, as bell becomes transcender now!

I agree with the "bits and pieces" but the "cramming" part doesn't fit in the same sentence. I don't like where they are going but they've definitely slid slower than the rest of the industry so to speak. Disney was one of the last companies of its size to bow to the SS couple benefits thing. That's astonishing given their visibility and industry. Given the leftward lurch of our culture on this issue the past ten years I'm surprised there haven't been more explicit and frequent examples of "gay moments." PIXAR has done some really good stuff though good stories like Shrek are unnecessarily crude. Parents are just going to have to be discerning and find reliable review sources. There is no excuse for anyone to go into a movie theater totally blind this day and age.
 
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ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
It's been an interesting past week. I wrote an article with some thoughts on how to talk to kids about the gospel after they watch the new, live-action Beauty and the Beast movie. I've written this sort of thing before about other especially popular kids' movies, and those articles tend to get appreciative responses. I figure it's good to give readers material they say is helpful.

So I wrote about Beauty and the Beast. This time, it meant dealing with the "gay moment" in the movie. As a general rule, I avoid hot-button culture war topics because those discussions tend to be unprofitable; people have trouble pulling away from the culture war to look at Jesus. But in this case I ended up deciding, perhaps foolishly, that I couldn't rightly talk about the gospel and that movie without addressing that moment.

The response has been a huge (for me) number of comments and concerns from readers, mostly via Facebook groups. Some indignantly defending Disney. Some appalled at me being "moralistic." (Really? I tried so hard to move beyond that.) Many appreciative comments as well.

Anyway, I wonder what some of you might think. Did I miss something important in my article? Did the movie hit you the same way it did me?

And most importantly, is there any better way to engage people about the gospel when these culture-war issues are in our faces?

The article is here.
The article was very respectful though you didn't receive in kind from some of the commentators.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
It's been an interesting past week. I wrote an article with some thoughts on how to talk to kids about the gospel after they watch the new, live-action Beauty and the Beast movie. I've written this sort of thing before about other especially popular kids' movies, and those articles tend to get appreciative responses. I figure it's good to give readers material they say is helpful.

So I wrote about Beauty and the Beast. This time, it meant dealing with the "gay moment" in the movie. As a general rule, I avoid hot-button culture war topics because those discussions tend to be unprofitable; people have trouble pulling away from the culture war to look at Jesus. But in this case I ended up deciding, perhaps foolishly, that I couldn't rightly talk about the gospel and that movie without addressing that moment.

The response has been a huge (for me) number of comments and concerns from readers, mostly via Facebook groups. Some indignantly defending Disney. Some appalled at me being "moralistic." (Really? I tried so hard to move beyond that.) Many appreciative comments as well.

Anyway, I wonder what some of you might think. Did I miss something important in my article? Did the movie hit you the same way it did me?

And most importantly, is there any better way to engage people about the gospel when these culture-war issues are in our faces?

The article is here.
To answer your question, people as a whole don't want to be "engaged" on the issue. On this issue you have to "preach to the choir" and communicate with those that want to be engaged. Rachel and others like her in your comments section illustrate this. It's obvious Rachel doesn't hold to biblical sexual ethics from her comments. Your comments were in passing and she can't stand the fact that you even mentioned it. You even addressed most of her concerns. That still wasn't enough. She didn't want to be challenged on her sexual ethic. Period! That is where most folks are on this issue of sexuality.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
To me, the most annoying aspect of the movie was not just that they made the character gay, but that in having done so, they completely changed the character to make him a good guy. As if everyone who is gay is automatically heroic.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
The article was very respectful though you didn't receive in kind from some of the commentators.
Actually, I've been encouraged by the tone of the comments. Most have been respectful, even if they disagreed with me. There's been no name calling or anything like that. And keep in mind that only a small sampling actually posted on my site where the article is written, where you can see them.

I think a few comments, like the one you mentioned, do reveal how this sexual ethic is becoming more than just a what's-allowable ethic to some people, but a philosophy of human flourishing and thus an alternative gospel. But I find it hard to communicate that idea without people thinking I'm merely trying to police their ethics.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
To me, the most annoying aspect of the movie was not just that they made the character gay, but that in having done so, they completely changed the character to make him a good guy. As if everyone who is gay is automatically heroic.
They did make him likeable. From a storytelling perspective, I thought they did a skillful job of giving that character a complete story arc despite limited screen time. Sadly, that story arc portrayed an unsatisfying resolution as a feel-good ending.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
Actually, I've been encouraged by the tone of the comments. Most have been respectful, even if they disagreed with me. There's been no name calling or anything like that. And keep in mind that only a small sampling actually posted on my site where the article is written, where you can see them.

I think a few comments, like the one you mentioned, do reveal how this sexual ethic is becoming more than just a what's-allowable ethic to some people, but a philosophy of human flourishing and thus an alternative gospel. But I find it hard to communicate that idea without people thinking I'm merely trying to police their ethics.
You're a patient man.

Good luck. The religious left doesn't value consistency much. I'm sure she's full of ethics policing tendencies and could give an impromptu 5000 word lecture on corporate greed.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Of course, most of my readers are pretty conservative to start with and have a decent grasp of the gospel. I really am not trying to convince those who've bought into an entirely different salvation that they need to turn to Jesus. That's someone else's job. I'm trying to give Christian parents and Sunday school teachers some thoughts on how to talk to their kids about these matters.

My goal is to keep the focus on Christ rather than just slamming the surrounding culture. With some cultural issues, it's fairly easy to give a critique and then point to Jesus. With this one, if you try, most people just remain stuck on the critique.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
They did make him likeable. From a storytelling perspective, I thought they did a skillful job of giving that character a complete story arc despite limited screen time. Sadly, that story arc portrayed an unsatisfying resolution as a feel-good ending.
I think it went much further than this. In the original movie, there was no indication of moral dilemma or hesitation to participate in Gaston's nefarious activities. He is portrayed as a the classic dimwitted evil henchman. In the remake however, suddenly he is transformed into the moral compass of the movie and by the end he is one of the heroes of the movie. It was a completely different character from the original.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
There comes a point where you simply have to own being "moralistic." There are things that are right or wrong whether people believe in Jesus or not. Even the call to believe in Jesus presupposes morality. It is right to believe in the Christ of God. To be a Christian is to be a moralistic person whether one likes to accept it or not. He who names the name of Christ is to depart from iniquity.

I would steer away from using cultural recreations as a medium for "presenting the gospel." Just as we have the concept of "sacred space" for people to consider the deeper aspects of their lives, there is also what might be called "secular space" where people relax and seek enjoyment in light and trivial things. To bring the gospel into this sphere runs the risk (1) of invading people's relaxation time, which is bound to cause unnecessary offence; and (2) of trivialising something so weighty as the gospel of Jesus Christ.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Interesting thought, Bill, on Lefou being made into the movie's moral compass. He certainly was a different character than in the original movie. I actually liked the way they made him conflicted over siding with Gaston. It made those two characters more interesting, I thought, and I didn't quite feel he was the moral compass. But certainly I didn't like the way they resolved his conflict, and you may be right that the filmmakers saw him as an even bigger hero than I picked up on. For sure, he was made into at least a side hero, which is why I felt I couldn't ignore his story arc.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
There comes a point where you simply have to own being "moralistic."
Yes, this is true also. Moral behavior cannot be separated from the gospel, and the practice of faith cannot take place in a vacuum apart from other godly practices. When I speak of being "moralistic" I usually mean being merely about morals, as when we harp on what behaviors are right and wrong and speak of little else. I don't want to be that guy in this situation.

Your point about using a movie to present the gospel is a good one. I wonder about that myself. It is not where I would start in teaching a Bible class, for sure, nor where I would start if someone asked me to tell them about Jesus. I only occasionally write about movies at all, and probably never would if they were mere diversions. But I think they've become more than that in our culture. In this case, there are so many kids watching this particular movie and talking about it that it becomes, for better or worse, what is currently happening in their lives. And when something is constantly on people's minds, sometimes it is good to have gospel answers to address what they're thinking about in the course of life. It was the same when Frozen came out. Kids spent so much time talking about it and singing the songs that at some point someone had to ask them to think about how it all fit the gospel... because it's important to know how our obsessions fit (or don't fit) the gospel.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
If something is regarded as unfitting it can only be on the basis of a moral judgment. Everything that proceeds on the basis of that moral judgment will be moralistic.

The law and the gospel should not be confused. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Telling children that something does not fit the gospel is confusing. By the law is the knowledge of sin. One must teach the law in order to know what is right and wrong.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I agree with the "bits and pieces" but the "cramming" part doesn't fit in the same sentence. I don't like where they are going but they've definitely slid slower than the rest of the industry so to speak. Disney was one of the last companies of its size to bow to the SS couple benefits thing. That's astonishing given their visibility and industry. Given the leftward lurch of our culture on this issue the past ten years I'm surprised there haven't been more explicit and frequent examples of "gay moments." PIXAR has done some really good stuff though good stories like Shrek are unnecessarily crude. Parents are just going to have to be discerning and find reliable review sources. There is no excuse for anyone to go into a movie theater totally blind this day and age.
This is just part though of the overall plan to get us in the culture to accept gay/Lesbian as normal and regular relationships. no different than heterosexual ones! Also notice that in their Marvel comics/Movies, same kind of an agenda being pushed, as Disney wants to have alternate lifestyles pushed...

They just want to feed us this piecemeal,in order to have us lulled into seeing all of this as being normal and acceptable!
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
The bar continues to be lowered and children are now routinely cast in dubious roles by Hollywood to set all the "homophobes" aright.

A few weeks ago on the Chicago Med series, a young girl, about 12, was admitted to the emergency room and after much consternation to determine her illness, it ended up being all about her emerging homosexual attraction to another girl. Just letting nature take its course rather than resist these same-sex urges, per the sage wisdom of the hospital staff, was all it took to bring about a presumed happy ending. Sigh.
 
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