Beauty and the Beast:
True love, or Stockholm Syndrome?
Okay, let it be known that I actually love the Disney Princesses very much, and find them a great asset to our DVD collection. Personally, I feel that it's the way one looks at the Princesses, the way we discuss it with our children, the way we discover morals of the stories that matters. Not the princesses or the stories themselves.
All of them are very kind. There is an easy lesson to teach there.
Jasmine gets a lot of flack for being disobedient but really, she is just a strong woman who isn't afraid to say no to what she doesn't want and go get what she does.
The most common complaint I hear about Ariel is that moms don't like that she has to use her body to earn the prince's love. I mean, if you want to, you can go ahead and PUT your mind there in that gutter, and drag your kids along for the ride. Or, you can emphasize the importance of communication. Of GENUINE discussion verses superficial chameleon tendencies. "Body language" doesn't necessarily mean "Sex".
Tiana is a hard worker who learns balance between a time to work and a time to play.
With Beauty and the Beast, there is always the discussion about how people deserve a second chance. That no matter how badly we behave, we can change. We can be better. And with Gaston, the lesson learned is that it isn't about being jealous or about hate. It's about forgiveness and trust.
Speaking of Beauty and the Beast, this is the subject of my discussion today. As I said, I really love the princesses, but I am a woman. Which means I'm like Shrek. I'm an onion. I have layers. And I'm complicated.
Was Belle in love with the Beast? Or was she suffering from Stockholm syndrome? Let us diagnose:
1. Belle finds it difficult to fit in. I mean, Gaston's a jerk and it's obvious, so no one can really blame a girl for not falling flat on her face for him. But she is aloof from everyone else as well. She doesn't even have GIRL friends.
Of course, the story wants us to feel that this is because she's different. Better. They want us to think that it's because of her differences that helps her recognize the good in the Beast. Really, though, she's probably just snooty. It doesn't really make sense that she would BE friends with yet ANOTHER jerk. I mean, from the get go, the Beast is very much like Gaston.
2. Belle has a wild imagination. She likes to read books. And as Gaston says "...you start getting ideas and...thinking...." - Of course, reading is, by no means a bad thing, but, if she's anything like my son, Mahone, who has the imagination of an evil genius, it's possible she could get reality pretty mixed up with perception. Plus, she makes it pretty clear that she wants a fairy tale ending. For a girl with few prospects, the sudden appearance of a giant secret castle and a prince (no matter how big a dick he is) might be pretty difficult to let slip through her fingers.
3. Daddy leaves. I suppose by now, Belle is old enough to stay home alone, really. I mean, assuming that she's about the same age as the Beast, which is an argument in and of itself.
In the beginning of the movie, stained glass animation tells the story of a young prince who rejects an old hag on a cold and rainy night. She then turns into a beautiful princess and places a curse on him to make him hideous and reflect his inner meanness.
A giant problem here.
The story says that the rose will bloom until his TWENTY FIRST YEAR. After that, if he has not found someone to love and to love him back, then he will remain a beast for eternity. The issue? In "Be Our Guest", Lumiere says "Ten years we've been rusting..."
That means, folks, that all this traumatizing stuff happened to an ELEVEN YEAR OLD BOY, AT THE OLDEST! There are so many problems with THIS, I don't know WHERE to begin!!!!
Seems to me like miss hag was probably just really a jaded babysitter who had a problem with the kid and used unethical punishments in his parents' absence. She probably needs some psycho-analysis herself.
Yes. I shall calm myself. It is a Touchy Topic for another Tuesday.
This story does not imply when Belle's mother died. In fact, it never even mentions her mother. It's possible that she's following along with the other princess' stories, and mom died in child birth. However, for the sake of argument, we're going to go with mom having taken off. So now, so does Daddy- to go to a fair with a really strange contraption that doesn't seem to have much real use. At which time, Gaston breaks into her house, nearly rapes her, and she is forced to go find Daddy all on her own.
Belle has some serious abandonment issues and may have been forced to be more mature than her age should imply.
4. Belle finds the Beast, who is quite the gentleman to begin with (read the sarcasm) and hates him. All that is to be expected. He is mean and gruff, and despite that, he gives her free reign of the castle due to it being her new home, EXCEPT for the West Wing.
We're supposed to see Belle as the smart, "bookish" type...but what IDIOT goes gallivanting off into a part of the castle that has been very clearly forbidden by a huge disgusting Beast that could bite you in half? On the FIRST NIGHT she's there? Smart? Maybe. Wisdom is pretty dang low there.
5. After Belle thoroughly invades the Beast's privacy, he goes all kinds of ape nuts on her, smashes furniture, throws things, screams and stomps and throws a fit like the eleven year old boy that is trapped inside his lionesque body, and Belle flees.
Things get complicated here, because once again, like an idiot, Belle isn't thinking too clearly. It's the middle of the night in the dead of winter, and wolves are on the prowl. Soon, they are over taking her and her horse.
Of course, like a hero, the Beast shows up, rips them all to shreds, sends the little wimpy ones running off into the distance, and promptly collapses.
Now, any normal, sane and otherwise healthy person would take off and never look back. After all, the Beast can clearly take care of himself, and the Beast had earned no pity. Instead, Belle feels sorry for him, and takes him back to the castle. The movie would have us believe that it is because of her differences that she can see the good in the Beast, and that, in saving her, it has come to light (when, in fact, it was really just that he was so ticked off about her leaving, he had run out there to pluck her back up, throw her over his shoulder, and put her in the tower prison cell instead of a cushy bedroom.) The real issue: Belle craves acceptance. Having never been accepted at home or in her village, abandoned by both parents, she sees this gallant "rescue" as "something there that wasn't there before."
6. Having broken her spirit, the Beast can see that Belle will do what she is told. Typical behavior of a classic abductor. Wanting to be loved, himself, of course, the Beast is nice to her, now that he knows she will cooperate no matter what.
Mistaking the whole situation for "love", the Beast gives Belle her freedom, and she rides away to save her "dying" father as she has throughout her entire life (when really, he's just got a bit of a cold.)
7. Confronted by the townspeople about her crazy father, Belle tells them that there really IS, in fact, a Beast, and HE is not a monster at all, GASTON is, (never mind that they are actually quite similar characters.) The townspeople are enraged and run off to kill the Beast.
8. The true test begins now: Without Belle, the Beast falls into a depressed stupor. He DOES care about her, in a way- as any typical abductor does. It's corrupt care, but he cares. However, in this dark spot of the story, we see the lack of change glimmering through the climax. As Gaston and his lackeys are busting down the castle door, all of the Beast's servants are pleading with him to do SOMETHING- they are coming and they're going to kill everyone. The Beast replies "Let them come."
Do you see the problem here? He might care about Belle in his twisted, superficial way, but he hasn't learned to care about ANYONE ELSE. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of people -turned furniture- in there that will be killed, or sold at pawn shops should he lie down and take it.
He has not changed AT. ALL.
9. And, without any support at home, Belle returns to the only place where she really was accepted.
10. I guess in a sense, both of these disturbed individuals found their version of "true love." - it's not really so much of a "he loves me for who I am" or "She's so pure of heart that she could bust through this brick wall I have put up." It's more of a "I can be a jerk to her because she's used to it," and "He's not really that bad as a human with a castle, and after that life back THERE, I can handle anything."
Remember, folks, I'm none too serious about this one. Over analysis is just one of those things that naturally occurs when a mom has watched a children's movie more times than she can count on a dozen hands. But feel free to add your opinions. Or just laugh. It's pretty funny.