Beauty and the Beast

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Feminism in Beauty and the Beast

A feminist analysis of any material can always go two way: 1) criticize absolutely everything about the material 2) defend the female characters as victims of circumstance. In the case of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, it’s very easy to bring up Stockholm Syndrome amongst other anti-feminist issues in the plot. But one can also defend Belle’s strong will and generosity, despite her situation. Disney made a very strategic decision by casting Emma Watson in the live-action remake because in film she is known as the strong-willed bookworm Hermione Granger and in the real world she is known a huge feminist activist. It’s clear with this decision and their recent films like Maleficent and Cinderella that Disney is attempting to put a feminist spin on the stories we all know, to various degrees of success. What can Disney do to revise Beauty and the Beast? Is the story inherently anti-feminist?

  • This is a very interesting topic. I do not think this story is inherently anti-feminist just looking at Belle as a character. She is opposed to and openly fights against marriage, she is an avid reader and characterized by her intelligence, and is portrayed as smarter than most males in the film. I agree that it was smart casting Emma Watson due to her role in popular media, as you say, of course her presence in the film won't automatically offer a more feminist reading. It'd be interesting to compare the original cartoon film to the new one and see what changes they make as well as what more they could do to add an even further feminist spin on it. – Kathryn 2 years ago
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  • I enjoy thinking of the possibilities of the topic, but I do think the story can be both anti and pro-feminist. I think, if anything, in the society we are in today, Disney has seen value in re-imagining some of thier most famous stories with a stronger female base. I think there are two great possibilites in how Disney can revise: a) not painting Belle as smarter than the men in the film, but make her a strong intellectual companion to her male counterparts; however, this does not mean she should be above the few women in the film either. B) I would love to see more exploration into the relationships between Belle and The Dresser/Mrs. Potts. Those are the only true female interactions seen with Belle, and I think emphasis on women helping women in the story would also help to create a stronger feminist undertone in the upcoming film. These elements are already in the originial animation (as well as Belle being treated as a prize by Gaston and other less-than-feminist elements), so therefore, I cannot say B&B is entirely anti-feminist; the animation just comes from a different era. Disney has a platform to show specific sides of feminism not always shown. The ability of a woman to be on the same level as the men in a patriarcal society, not so much being above them, and being able to relate and co-exist with other women on every level of her life in a way which is beneficial. – C N Williamson 2 years ago
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  • I enjoy thinking of the possibilities of the topic, but I do think the story can be both anti and pro-feminist. I think, if anything, in the society we are in today, Disney has seen value in re-imagining some of thier most famous stories with a stronger female base. I think there are two great possibilites in how Disney can revise: a) not painting Belle as smarter than the men in the film, but make her a strong intellectual companion to her male counterparts; however, this does not mean she should be above the few women in the film either. B) I would love to see more exploration into the relationships between Belle and The Dresser/Mrs. Potts. Those are the only true female interactions seen with Belle, and I think emphasis on women helping women in the story would also help to create a stronger feminist undertone in the upcoming film. These elements are already in the originial animation (as well as Belle being treated as a prize by Gaston and other less-than-feminist elements), so therefore, I cannot say B&B is entirely anti-feminist; the animation just comes from a different era. Disney has a platform to show specific sides of feminism not always shown. The ability of a woman to be on the same level as the men in a patriarcal society, not so much being above them, and being able to relate and co-exist with other women on every level of her life in a way which is beneficial. - C N Williamson – C N Williamson 2 years ago
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