A professor at Florida International University is lamenting themes of ‘toxic masculinity’ present in Disney’s "Beauty and the Beast."
In an article titled, “We are the Beast: On Toxic Masculinity and Social Responsibility in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” Professor Bryant Scully reflects upon how the films “differentially treat social responsibility, with respect to the various side characters and communities represented, for the toxic masculinity exhibited by its most prominent male characters, Gaston and the Beast.“
The critique indicates that the Beast and Gaston are the main culprits of toxic masculinity, and both are equally responsible for the destruction of their community. According to the author, the failure of the Beast’s servants to stand up to him against imprisoning Belle represents the importance of strong unions in the labor force. If the Beast’s employees had been unionized with strong union leaders, they may have been more willing to take a stand against their master.
“We can say that there is an individual responsibility to engage in collective, community action,” writes Scully. “And there is a collective, community responsibility to help individuals engage and contribute effectively, humanely, and democratically. “
Gaston is also subjected to heavy criticism, as the author compares him to “Martin Shkreli mixed with Donald Trump.” According to the article, Gaston and the villagers are “all responsible for the violent, close-minded toxic masculinity that nearly destroyed their small community.”
The author goes on to cite the recent decisions by Shkreli to hike the drug of Daraprim 5,000 percent, as well as the decision by the makers of the Epipen to increase the price as well (which apparently highlights the fact that the male villagers were unwilling to stand up against the hypermasculinity of Gaston).
Despite being a “scholarly publication,” the author also manages to work in a line linking Trump with the KKK, saying that toxic masculinity has fueled the rise of Trump and the alt-Right.
“Toxic masculinity is not some alt-Right aberration,” writes Scully. “Though its most extreme manifestations have fueled the alt-Right’s, and de facto Grand Wizard Donald Trump’s, rise.“
Despite his critique of the Beast, the author concludes that society needs more Beasts and fewer Gastons, arguing that despite the Beast’s sexism, he has shown himself to be capable of change.
“We need more Beasts and fewer toxic ‘men,’” Scully explains. “Gastons will die as misogynists and take others down with them. Beasts are sexists and chauvinists who can change under the right circumstances; they need not die beasts.”
John Patrick (@john_pat_rick) is a graduate of Canisius College and Georgia Southern University. He interned for Red Alert Politics during the summer of 2012 and has continued to contribute regularly.