It’s like when your parents get divorced and you realize for the first time that they are not perfect, but rather flawed human beings with their own agendas, trying to work through their own issues. It’s opening day for Beauty and the Beast and many Christians have called for a boycott (read my post about the hypocrisy behind the boycott here). While a boycott may not be the best way to respond, the anger behind the boycott is easily explainable.
Here’s (I believe) the real reason why Christians are upset by Disney’s choice to portray its first ‘exclusively gay’ moment on the big screen: because it shatters the illusion that Disney is a ‘Christian’ company. Now, in its defense, Disney never claimed to be a Christian company along the lines of Hobby Lobby or Chick-fil-a. Yet it’s movies released while many of the boycotters were children were so wholesome and family-friendly that it’s easy to make that assumption. Perhaps Disney’s portrayal of traditional family values over the decades wasn’t an outflow of its core values so much as a sound business strategy.
Well, that business strategy has changed. In fact, Disney gave us a heads up about this shift years ago. Disney owns ABC along with its sister network ABC Family. For years the tagline of the ABC Family channel was “a new kind of family.” In January 2016, Disney rebranded ABC Family as FreeForm. I believe Disney would still market itself as a family company promoting family values. Disney just interprets the word ‘family’ differently than traditional Christianity might. The popular show Modern Family (with its openly gay couple) has been showing on ABC (owned by Disney) for years. This jump from the small screen to the big screen shouldn’t surprise anyone.
And yet for some it does, because Disney was so closely with traditional family values back in the 70s and 80s that there is this nostalgic assignment of traditional purity that was shattered is Beauty and the Beast. But make no mistake: Disney never was a distinctly Christian company bound to operate and promote Christian virtues. They did it so well that we assigned that designation to them. That’s the real reason Christians are so upset behind the Beauty and the Beast. We’re upset at Disney for failing to live up to a standard to which they never agreed to uphold. Maybe the people we should be upset at is ourselves.