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“Beauty and the Beast” to feature an “exclusively gay moment”

If you and your children enjoyed Disney’s live-action version of Cinderella, perhaps you have been looking forward to the March 17 release of the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. Unfortunately, news has leaked that might temper that enthusiasm.

The director of Beauty and the Beast, Bill Condon, has told a British publication that the new movie will contain an “exclusively gay moment.” According to Condon, Gaston’s sidekick LeFou will be involved in a subplot in which he is wrestling with his sexuality. In director Condon’s own words:

“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston… He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realising that he has these feelings. And Josh [the actor who plays LeFou] makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”

Obviously, the precise depiction of this “exclusively gay moment” is not revealed in the interview. But the editor of the magazine publishing the interview says this:

“It may have been a long time coming but this is a watershed moment for Disney… By representing same-sex attraction in this short but explicitly gay scene, the studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural – and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay… It’s only a first step towards creating a cinematic world that reflects the one in which many of us are now proud to live. But it’s a step in the right direction and I applaud Disney for being brave enough to make it – and in doing so hopefully helping to change attitudes and bring about real social progress.” [underline mine]

Some have suggested that perhaps this news is a publicity stunt and that the depiction may not be as explicit as the director suggests. We cannot be sure until the movie is released. Nevertheless, The Washington Post reports that “the live-action ‘Beauty and the Beast’ will bring an overt depiction of a gay man to the big screen.”

This news is not surprising for anyone familiar with Disney’s pro-gay stance in its corporate practices. Increasingly, these themes have been detected in the content of its films. But now, it looks like Disney is poised to do something more explicit than it has in the past—to introduce an “exclusively gay moment” in a film marketed to children.

Even though I’m not surprised by this, I am disappointed by it. My own children were delighted by the live-action Cinderella that came out in 2015. It was really well done. For that reason, we have been looking forward with great anticipation for another well-done production. But if these reports are true, we won’t be seeing this one.

The reason is very simple. I am not going to let a movie studio communicate to my children that sexual immorality is “normal and natural.” This movie will no doubt be packaged in a narrative and a production value designed to capture their imaginations, but it will do so in a way that conceals a false and destructive message. To let them see this material would go against everything that I am trying to teach them about the good, the beautiful, and the true. If these reports are accurate, this movie would powerfully subvert that effort.

We have to be constantly vigilant about what stories capture our children’s imaginations—even stories from places like Disney. In fact, I should stipulate, especially from sources like Disney. As one friend put it to me:

We don’t allow Disney into our house, except for the older stuff. They are wicked engineers of the imagination. The corruption of the best is the worst.

My friend’s point is a simple one. Our minds and our consciences are shaped more by the stories that frame our experience than by anything else. The story-tellers, therefore, are the “engineers of the imagination.” They can influence and shape us for the good or for ill. They can either reflect or deflect our moral imagination from the true story of the world—and there is but one true story. Virtue involves not only knowing that story but also living life within its frame of reference.

Beautiful productions with compelling stories and sympathetic characters are powerful devices for shaping worldview and imagination. If those devices are turned against the true story of the world—the one featuring a Creator who made us, loves us, and provides a way to redeem us—then they are subversive to what is best for us. And that is where we must be vigilant—not only for our children but for ourselves.

Disney has put me and many other parents like me in the position of having to explain to very small children why this movie is bad for them. But we will do it. And we will use it as a teachable moment about the true story of the world—a story in which we are strangers and aliens in a place that is not our home (1 Peter 2:11). Moments like this one bring that truth home in spades, and it is a lesson best learned early before there is more on the line than the screening of a Disney movie.

Top 10 YouTubes of 2016

It’s time for my annual posting of the Top 10 YouTube Videos of the Year (see last year’s list here). This ranking is totally unscientific. Only one person was polled to compile this list—yours truly. This year’s slate of videos is mainly humorous, with some other odds and ends thrown in. If you think I’ve left something out, let me know. I’ll think about adding it to the “Honorable Mention” category at the bottom.

1. Brothers convince sister of zombie apocalypse

It’s another one of those coming-out-of-anesthesia videos. And I think it’s my favorite of all time.

2. Millennial International

Millennial International is a sponsor-based program designed to help Millennials live the lives they portray on Instagram. I hope you’ll consider sponsoring one of them.

3. Bad Lip-Reading: The Empire Strikes Back

4. How To Spot Suspicious Halloween Candy

5. Milk Commercial Tribute to “Sixteen Candles”

Okay, GenX’ers. Don’t miss the couple playing the parents at the end.

6. Man punches kangaroo in race to rescue dog

7. Trump and Clinton Perform “Time of My Life” Duet

8. Best Political Ad of the Year

9. On Identity and Bathroom Laws

10. Free Speech Zone

This one hurts too much to laugh.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

“Dancing in the Street” Silent Music Video

Friends Awakens

Sad Affleck

P. S. I liked Batman v. Superman, and I liked Affleck. The criticism seemed a little bandwagony to me.

Eugene Peterson and Bono talk about the Psalms

A Showstopper at the Lincoln Memorial

Backflip over speeding Formula E car

“The Shot” in Slow Motion

The 2016 NCAA men’s basketball championship was a game for the ages.

A Two-Party System

This video hails from a 1996 episode of “The Simpsons.” Nevertheless, it was very 2016, so I included it here.

Why all the excitement about the movie “Dunkirk”?

Today, Warner Brothers released the first full-length trailer for the forthcoming movie Dunkirk (see above). I assume that most of you reading this know why this film is so highly anticipated. But I am writing for those of you who may not. The story of the evacuation from Dunkirk during World War 2 is one of the most riveting true stories that you will ever hear. It is a story of heroes, common and uncommon. It is a story of national valor and courage, and for that reason the story is beloved and cherished. What happened at this little fishing village in the north of France in 1940? Continue Reading →

“Riva” (a short film)

Riva is a beautifully executed short film from Chris Wiegand about a homeless woman on a journey to find healing for her broken, bleeding hands. It’s loosely based on Mark 5:34, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” The film has won seven awards, including “Best Film” at the 2015 Annual 168 Film Festival. You can watch it above. Well done, Chris!

Four reflections on the film “13 Hours”

Last night, I saw the movie “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.” And let me just say, it was very well done. Viewers should be advised that this is not a movie for children as it contains all the grit and profanity of soldier life. It also depicts some pretty gruesome wartime violence. Nevertheless, it does tell the story of what happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 when a terrorist assault killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. It is compelling material to say the very least. I am not going to render a full review of the movie in this space but would offer four brief reflections: Continue Reading →

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Top 10 YouTubes of 2015

It’s time for my annual posting of the Top 10 YouTube Videos of the Year (see last year’s list here). This ranking is totally unscientific. Only one person was polled to compile this list—yours truly. This year’s slate of videos is mainly humorous, with a dash of overrepresentation from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you think I’ve left something out, let me know. I’ll think about adding it to the “Honorable Mention” category at the bottom. Continue Reading →

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Seven reflections on “The Force Awakens”

I think just about all the angles on The Force Awakens have been covered. From penetrating think-pieces explaining our obsession to frowny-face predictions to satisfied first-viewings. So I’m going to leave the proper movie-reviewing to others. There really isn’t much else to say.

Rather than analyze the aesthetic qualities of the The Force Awakens, let me simply say that I loved it. Yes, it was an homage to the earlier movies, but that’s okay with me. As a life-long fan, that was the itch that needed scratching, and this movie delivered. So that’s the long and short of my review.

With that out of the way, please allow me to go full-nerd here with seven random reflections on The Force Awakens. This will have spoilers, so do not read-on until after you have seen the movie. Continue Reading →

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All the Star Wars Trailers and Clips in One Video

This is the week. “The Force Awakens” is only days away. I’ve already got my ticket for the 8:10pm sneak preview on Thursday night, and I can’t wait to don my Greedo costume for the occasion (I hope Han doesn’t shoot me first, but I digress).

Seriously though, if you’re like me and you’re about to come out of your skin waiting for the release, here’s a mashup of all the trailers and clips that have been released for “The Force Awakens.” It’s a thirteen minute fix, and it’s just what the doctor ordered for the home stretch.

Nerd-out concluded.

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