The Beauty and the Beast, a Discussion

The story of Beauty and the Beast is a classic French tale from 1740 about a merchant who becomes lost during a storm.  The merchant finds shelter at a palace belonging to the beast.  The next morning, the beast tells the merchant that he deserves to die, but the beast will spare his life in exchange for the merchant’s daughter.  The merchant agrees to the arrangement.  The beast gives gifts to the daughter, and she eventually falls in love with him.  When the daughter shows her affection for the beast, the beast is transformed into a handsome prince and they live happily ever after.

The tale was historically used to prepare girls for arranged marriages.  Brides were fearful their future husband would be a beast.  The tale gave hope that their husband may turn out to be wonderful prince.

In 1991, Walt Disney Feature Animation produced a musical animated film entitled Beauty and the Beast.  The Disney movie quickly became the version that people are most familiar with.  The story line is similar to the original plot.  The daughter is named Belle, and her father is Maurice.  Maurice is lost in the woods and finds refuge in the Beast’s castle.  The Beast imprisons Maurice.  Belle searches for her father and finds him locked in the castle dungeon.  The Beast agrees to let Belle take Maurice’s place as prisoner, and Belle eventually falls in love with the Beast.

The following is my perception as a result of the paths that God has taken me through, and I do not expect everyone to join me in my opinion.  My goal is to have an open discussion about certain patterns that are accepted in the movie, that should bring alarm.  The patterns are often overlooked, because the movie portrays that they all live happily ever after.  My concerns are about similar patterns that are used to prepare girls for a different kind of sexual encounter.

I have spent many years as a Volunteer Chaplain to inmates in a high security jail.  My role was to hold Sunday worship services and share the gospel with them.  Many of the inmates admitted their involvement in child trafficking.  I was intrigued as to how the pimps would get twelve-year-old girls to agree to receive phone instructions to leave school to meet a stranger that would have sex with them.  The girl would take the money to the pimp, and then go back to school.  Police were often surprised that the girl would often protect her pimp, when arrested for prostitution.

Here are the correlations with Beauty and the Beast:

  1. The father who should be protecting the daughter is made to look like the absent-minded professor that should not be taken seriously.  Fathers that actively warn their daughters about the pimp’s scheme are the biggest threat to the pimp.
  2. The Beast imprisons the girl with the intent of ultimately taking advantage of her.  The pimp has the same intention.
  3. The Beast portrays himself as kind, because he does not harm the girl’s family, provided she does what he says.  The girl is told she should be grateful to the beast.
  4. The Beast has a friend that explains to the girl that the Beast is really a good person and then give gifts to the girl on behalf of the Beast.  Lumiere and Cogsworth throw a dinner for Belle in the movie.  Another girl that is part of the pimp’s harem serves this function for the pimp.
  5. The girl goes through stages of mental reprogramming.  She starts out acting like she trusts the Beast for survival.  She knows her actions need to be convincing to her captor to gain more freedoms.  Eventually, she deceives herself that she really loves the Beast.  This is commonly known as the Stockholm Syndrome.  The girl is subjected to cycles of kindness and abuse in a closed environment.  The captor will even be portrayed as rescuing the girl, as the scene where Belle is scared out to the wolves, and then the Beast scares the wolves away.  Belle shows she is close to the end of her training, when she tends to the Beast’s wounds.  Pimps will play the wolf game with other Pimps to get their girls to be loyal to just them.
  6. The captor sends the captive on a mission to help someone else.  If she returns, then the manipulation is complete.  The highest level of manipulation is when the captive will risk her life to defend the captor.  Then, the captor knows the captive will do anything the Beast wants.  Belle is released on a mission to help her father and then returns to rescue the Beast from Gaston, the hunter.

Most people will watch the Beauty and the Beast as entertainment.  After many years of fighting the rape for profit industry and trying to get the California legislature to protect our children, I see the movie differently.  At one time, kidnapping a girl and selling her for sex was a capital crime, punishable by death.  Today in California, the prostitution industry has successfully lobbied to get it reduced to a $10,000 fine.

In addition to my personal issues with the movie, Beauty and the Beast, there are items of a broader nature that should prompt an open discussion between parents and their children.  God calls us to take every thought captive and evaluate it.  Here are some worthy discussions:

  1. Should the training in sorcery cause concern?  Disney trains the viewer to be afraid of witches that can curse a kingdom and turn people into household objects.  Disney trains the children to be in awe of the powers of witchcraft.  Magical mirrors empowered by sorcery that give special information should prompt a compare and contrast discussion about crystal balls and Ouija Boards.  A reading of Deuteronomy chapters 5 through 13 communicates God’s prohibition against being involved in witchcraft.  God, the Creator of the Universe, gave a harsh standard.  If someone (Even the wife of your bosom) invites you to give go and give worth (worship) to witchcraft, then your hand shall be first to stone them to death.  When God summarizes the death of Saul, God says that He killed Saul for his rebellion and the example given is that Saul went to see a witch.  Why is God upset about sorcery?  Is sorcery a counterfeit of the dreams, visions and spiritual gifts that come from God?  Do demons really make themselves obey people casting spells, or are the demons deceiving the wizard?
  2. When parents are not portrayed with honor and respect, then parents should be on guard that this may not be a family friendly movie.  The fathers in Beauty and the Beast and Tarzan are portrayed as absent-minded professors.  The Bible says in the Ten Commandments and Ephesians 6 that parents are to be honored.  Obviously, parents do not always act honorably.  This can prompt a productive discussion about parents setting a good example and encouraging children to think about what kind of parents they will be, when it is their turn.
  3. Kidnapping is a capital offense, punishable by death.  In Beauty and the Beast, the Beast does not release Belle, when she finds her father.  Does the Beast have the right to hold Belle as a prisoner?  The Beast wants a girl to fall in love with him.  Does his desire for a girl give him permission to make a girl his prisoner?  There are many stories in the news about men holding girls in their basements as their girlfriends.  Is this appropriate?  Men and women are renting little girls and boys for sex on the internet.  What is God’s attitude in Isaiah 58 about rescuing the children, setting them free from doing wickedness, clothing and feeding the children?
  4. Does Disney Magic really make everything turn out right?  Is God the source of blessing or Disney Magic?  In the Beauty and the Beast, Disney Magic makes the beast come back to life.  Is Jesus the savior (Savior means rescuer) or is Disney?  In the Ten Commandments, God says His name is “Jealous.”  Is God jealous when we look to fantasy for heroes instead of Him?  Does God share His glory (Isaiah 42:8)?  How do we draw the line between inspirational stories and fantasy heroes with god-like qualities?
  5. Are your children ready for a discussion about gender confusion?  Press releases for the newest Disney version of Beauty and the Beast are clear that there are several references to male to male sexual attraction.  Sexual perversion is not new.   Male with male group sex has been a problem for over 4,000 years according to Genesis 19.  Should parents pay to have sex outside of God’s design promoted to their children?
  6. Can a large group of people who follow Jesus be deceived?  Absolutely.  How many times did the kings of Israel lead the people away from God?  How quickly did the people get seduced into following Baal and the other false gods?  How will the merchants of Babylon deceive the nations with sorcery (Revelation 18 – 19)?  The merchants of sorcery will kill those who oppose them.  Are we willing to risk death in our efforts to share the gospel and train the nations to follow Jesus instead of sorcery?

Not every movie from Disney is evil.  Disney did a great job with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  Evil was defined as evil.  Forgiveness was granted, but justice still had to be served on a substitute.  The goal of this article is not to say that everything Disney does is evil.  The goal is to encourage parents to discuss movies and discern good from evil.  The Bible is full of examples of evil.  The examples are in the Bible for discussion, so that we can train our children to be wise and fear God.

About Chaplain Dan

Chaplain Dan was born in the United States and grew up in Japan as a missionary. He met his wife at Biola University in California. After some seminary, he switched to business and got an MBA. He works in finance and volunteers as a Gideon.
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