Two seconds can apparently change a whole lot in the world of film and cinema – at least when they feature two men at a ball stumbling into each other during a dance and shooting each other a surprised, yet not deprecatory glance before continuing to dance with one another.
In the case of Disney’s new film “Beauty and the Beast”, said two seconds caused outcries going as far as asserting Disney pursued “an anti-family values agenda“1 by showing what director Bill Condon describes as „an exclusively gay moment“2 – a first time for Disney.
In Malaysia, a country where religious fundamentalism permeates legislation and “discrimination against […] LGBTQ people is still pervasive”,3 censorship went as far as demanding to have this split scene (two seconds) cut from the film.4 A scene in which two men are seen looking at each other with surprise and there is little more than a hint they move on to dancing with one another. Disney refused deleting the moment; cinemas will not be showing “Beauty and the Beast” in Malaysia. Considering that, according to the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, homosexual relationships are illegal in 77 countries, five of these employing the death penalty as one measure of enforcement,5 a film not being shown appears to be a triviality; and compared to human beings that are detained or killed for loving one another, it bears little significance. However, outcries and bans springing from starring a gay character in a fairy tale adaptation underpins how homophobia still prevails today.
When the blink of an eye, hardly noticeable were it not for the director of the film claiming it to be a “gay moment” and drawing attention to it, provokes such great alertness, what does this say about acceptance? It stuns and perplexes me that, as of today, the mere mention of the word “gay” can change so much; it shocks me that as issue as inconesequential as a film can become the target of hate for two out seconds out of 7.800 – for nothing but three letters and a surprised glance; and it convinces me that there is still a lot to do in the field of openness and appreciation until truly everyone is regarded equally deserving of respect and dignity.
1 Facebook-page of Colorado Christian University Centennial Institute: https://www.facebook.com/Centennial.Institute/photos/a.10150307048240381.563147.361379030380/10158447756335381/?type=3&theater; first accessed: 19.03.2017, 23:01.
2 Attitude Magazine, 01.03.2017: „WORLD EXCLUSIVE: ‘BEAUTY AND THE BEAST’ SET TO MAKE DISNEY HISTORY WITH GAY CHARACTER“, http://attitude.co.uk/world-exclusive-beauty-and-the-beast-set-to-make-disney-history-with-gay-character/; first accessed: 19.03.2017, 23:08.
3 Human Rights Watch: „World Report 2015: Malaysia“ https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/country-chapters/malaysia; first accessed: 19.03.2017, 23:13.
4 Los Angeles Times, Daniel Miller, 15.03.2017, 12:15: „’Beauty and the Beast’ won’t be shown in Malaysia after Disney refuses to cut gay scene; http://www.latimes.com/business/hollywood/la-fi-ct-disney-malaysia-censors-20170315-story.html; first accessed: 19.03.2017, 23:17.
5 United NationsOffice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: „Combatting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity“; http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Discrimination/Pages/LGBT.aspx; first accessed: 23.03.2017, 23:24;
Picture taken from: US Magazine, Stephanie Webber, Josh Gad Joins Live-Action Beauty and the beast as Gaston’s Sidekick Lefou; 13.03.2015, 15:45; http://www.usmagazine.com/entertainment/news/josh-gad-joins-live-action-beauty-and-the-beast-as-lefou-2015133; first accessed; first accessed: 20.03.2017