Okay, so we saw Beauty and the Beast this weekend, and I was surprised.
I mean, like a lot of parents, I’ve seen it ad infinitum on video, and you think, “I know the story, I’ll sleep through this. Knitting. Lots of knitting.” But then, the opening chords hit the sound system, and I was hooked. Completely. Just like the first time (well, I slept through some of the dialog–I was sort of exhausted) but every musical number just… God. Is there ever a word for what that does to you? What art does to you when you love it?
And then, the song. Gaston’s song. The song that he uses to incite an angry mob, and the lyrics? The things the villain says, that the gullible, simple townspeople BELIEVE? Man, The Simpsons and The Family Guy think they’ve got a corner on irony, but they’ve got nothing on a man dying of AIDs in 1991.
“If you’re not with us, you’re against us!” “We don’t like what we don’t understand because it scares us!” “For our village and our lives!”
God. It’s political rhetoric, it’s hysterical ranting, it’s the popular guy out to grind his axe in someone else’s blood.
It’s the 2012 election in a fucking nutshell.
And I haven’t talked a lot about it. I mean, for one thing, most of the people reading anything *I* put out would be aware that I think the political candidates for the American Republican party are some of the scariest bunch of potential Nazis this country has seen since Joseph McCarthy. In fact, they’re even scarier, because McCarthy did what he did as a very junior senator, with nothing but a briefcase filled with old memos. Romney? Perry? Santorum? These bozos are–oh my God–I… *I* am rendered speechless. Completely speechless. I’m starting to wish I could establish a Google website, like Dan Savage did for Rick Santorum, except, instead of that wonderful, awful definition, I would have the clip of Gaston, leading the villagers to “Kill the beast!” Sure, the people being led don’t have enough to feed their families, and they’re shit deep in ignorance and depression, but one red flag in front of their eyes and they’re off to kill someone who has never tried to harm them and who hasn’t impacted on their lives EVER. Which, when you think about it, is EXACTLY what the Republican candidates have been doing to the LGBTQ community for the last year! (Okay– a lot longer than that but this last year has been in extremus, and I think even Republicans are starting to see it that way.)
I mean, it’s a simple idea, isn’t it? Howard Ashman, asked to write a song for a bully, out to destroy a rival in a fit of ignorance and rage–of course the things that come out of Gaston’s mouth are the same things coming out of the mouths of the ignorant during the height of the AID’s crisis. But you’d think we’d learn, wouldn’t you? You’d think that twenty years later we wouldn’t still be listening to another crop of Disney villains–over the top, dumber than posts, bragging about their ignorance and their bigotry like it’s something to be proud of– but this time with even MORE power to destroy than the ones in 1991.
I swear–truly–sometimes I think it’s all part of a big plot. That the Republicans keep us ignorant by cutting our programs for everything from education to the homeless, and then when we’re nothing more than screaming, brainless peasants, they lead us to blindly destroy something that actually impacts the lives of very few peasants at all. It’s like an instant pudding recipe for instant brainless Nazis, and the fact that no American politician has stood up and called out ANY of these men for actively seeking to OBLITERATE CIVIL RIGHTS FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN BIGOTRY scares me even more. God, forget learning the lessons of WWII– obviously, that’s too esoteric for this bunch. Apparently they’re not even smart enough to learn the lessons from Disney!
And that’s what scares the shit out of me. It LITERALLY keeps me up at night. Because it’s not going to do me any good to think of Romney, Santorum, or Perry as a cartoon villain when the lives of good people that I care about are being destroyed because one of these bozos are leading gullible peasants to the castle to kill the beast.
Poor Howard Ashman. It was such a valuable lesson to leave as a legacy. It was the kind of thing every artist DREAMS of doing before he or she dies–to write something brilliant, and memorable, and worthwhile, something that could change the world.
It should have worked. Gaston should never have been allowed be resurrected, and to rouse the masses again.