Normally, I don’t like to get political when I’m reviewing a movie. I don’t care if you’re left, right or upside down – if you’ve got a great story to tell using the medium of cinema, I’ll give you a fair shot. But even I have to draw the line somewhere. With the new live action reboot of Beauty and the Beast, Disney blew an incredible chance to demonstrate its commitment to diversity when it chose not to cast a beast actor to play the movie’s title role.
Hollywood’s underrepresentation of beasts on the silver screen is no secret. Even when a movie includes a beast character such as in the movie X-Men: First Class, it nearly always casts a human in the role. Disney had the perfect opportunity to correct this injustice with its new version of Beauty and the Beast. I’m sorry to say that Disney chose to cast a white man instead of a beast to play the role of the Beast, and the movie suffers as a result.
To be perfectly honest, I had a hard time focusing on the dialogue and plot of the movie because I was so distracted by the stereotypical beast makeup applied to the face of white man Dan Stevens to make him look more like a beast which he is not. This crude makeup recalled the most offensive prejudices of old-fashioned beastface shows of an earlier era.
Thankfully, Disney avoided such minstrelsy with its choice of supporting cast. I was happy to see an actual teapot up on screen playing Mrs. Potts alongside a real mantel clock, a genuine candelabra and an authentic feather duster to play the parts of Lumière, Cogsworth and Plumette respectively.
But such casting is really only half a victory if even that. Nowadays, teapots and clocks are cast in movies all the time in amusing and too often superficial supporting roles. But when it comes to the lead, the big movie studios will never take a chance on a teapot, much less a beast. Instead they continue to rely on familiar white human faces that only perpetuate a distorted image of what’s “normal.” I suppose I was foolish to expect Disney to rise to the occasion and cast one of the many fine if unknown beast actors who would literally kill for an opportunity to star in a major blockbuster.
TL;DR – Don’t 👏 cast 👏 humans 👏 in 👏 beast👏 roles 👏 because 👏 it 👏 ruins👏my 👏enjoyment 👏 of👏the👏 movie
What the rest of the critics are saying:
“The controversy over the casting of Beauty and the Beast is way overblown. Human actors should be allowed to play beast characters and vice versa. The important thing is whether the actor is right for a role and delivers a convincing performance. By that metric, Dan Stevens shines.” – Shane Blarrison, The Daily Caller
“Disney can be forgiven for failing to predict Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, which has undoubtedly led to a far more sensitive and urgent national conversation about representations of beasts onscreen. Unfortunately this movie cannot help but fall victim to the new questions Trump’s presidency has raised.” -Nack Torris, Inverse
“When I heard that Disney was going to make a live action remake of Beauty and the Beast, my first thought was where will they find a teapot, a clock and of course a beast to play the roles so beautifully animated in the original. Well, Disney, you’ve outfoxed me yet again! Even though you couldn’t find the right beast actor (really they aren’t that many beast actors out there, right?), you found an absolutely charming teapot that should be getting some end of the year awards love, I’m sure of it.” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com
“Another case of Hollywood whitewashing. Boycott Beauty and the Beast (2017) for casting a human person to play a beast role using offensive beastface makeup.” – Engelbert Humperdinck, Boston Globe
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