A&E Editor and Guest Columnist
Bill Condon, the director of Disney’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” made headlines when he announced in an interview with the U.K.’s Attitude magazine that the film contained an “exclusively gay moment.” Condon’s comment about the character LeFou, the villain Gaston’s bumbling henchman, caused a media sensation. Conservatives launched boycotts against the film while liberals lauded what Variety magazine described as Disney’s “first openly gay character”.
It might seem strange that this story has become such a big deal, especially considering the fact that the “exclusively gay moment” is one of those blink-and-you-miss-it moments. Even Condon admitted to Vulture magazine that he was “sort of sick” of the whole controversy, saying that “[the scene] is such a teeny thing and it’s been overblown.”
However, this uproar over a princess movie is just one little part of a greater conflict that is splitting the U.S.: the division between liberals and conservatives.
This division is nothing new. Although the party names and issues have changed, there has been a difference of opinion between these two groups since the foundation of the U.S.
Such a division is normal and even healthy for a country. In a one party system, as is found in Communist countries such as China and the old Soviet Union, there is no reason for the government to examine its course of action, nor is there anything to stop the government from stuffing its ideologies down the citizen’s throats and punishing those who do not adhere to them.
However, if the division between a country’s political parties grows too wide, then there are problems as well. It is these kinds of divisions that lead to revolutions and civil wars. The U.S. experienced this first hand with the Civil War. This is the problem which America faces today.
If you think it is ridiculous to compare the fight between conservatives and liberals over a Disney movie to the Civil War, just think about the last presidential election. The same people who are arguing over LeFou made this past election the most contentious presidential campaign in recent memory.
This division was partly due to Clinton’s and Trump’s unpopularity, which led to people trying to justify one candidate merely because they despised the other. However, social media played a large role as well. Not only did it enable people to argue politics without physically confronting a person, but it also allowed them to shut out the other side by simply clicking “unfriend.”
Bridging the gulf between liberals and conservatives requires actual conversations and not Facebook fights, whether they be about Disney or Trump’s latest foibles. There will still be disagreements. However, these discussions will not only force people to acknowledge the other side, but will also make them have more respect for the opposing side because confronting an actual person instead of a Facebook profile will make it more difficult to dehumanize them.
Until that happens, enjoy the peace and quiet until the next movie riles up the internet.