Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nerd’s Revenge – Gaston in Beauty and the Beast

Or: Oh, The Power In The Hands Of Those Wielding The Pen

Recently, while baby-sitting one of my granddaughters, I watched Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. We all have seen it more than once and are quite familiar with the tale, but this time I was really caught up with the fun the writer(s) must have had when doing Gaston, the thick-headed, dull-witted, egotistical, narcissistic, and bicep-bound bully who insisted on marrying Belle, despite her obvious objections.

Why did Gaston want Belle, when he could have had any of the other “bimbettes” in the film in a moment’s notice? Because she was “the best” and didn’t Gaston “…deserve the best?”

There was never a worse mismatch: Gaston loved to hunt, Belle loved the animals; Gaston hated reading (“How can you read this? There’s no pictures!”) LOL!

And imagine Belle’s disgust when Gaston described how she could look forward to fulfilling her dream by marrying him, bearing him many “…strapping boys…like me!” and could dote on him, massaging his feet (his toes sticking through holes in the socks, mind you!). I’m sure sex with him would have been a mutually satisfying experience, an image that the writers at that time could only intimate.

Yes, the scriptwriters missed little. One can only imagine them thinking, “How can I make this guy more of a jerk?” One can also only imagine that the writers had had sand kicked in their face at the beach, or had taken note of who dated whom in high school and college back in the days when “men were men”.

Of course, a Gaston can’t exist without an adoring crowd of inadequate men willing to pump up the ego of their hero so they can live vicariously through his exploits. As Gaston is the “paragon” of strength, the fawning Lefou is the epitome of a member of the support system such a mindless brute requires. During one scene, in which Gaston’s minions cheer him up after an ignoble rejection by Belle, Lefou says, “Gaston is the best and the rest is all drips!”

The writers, of course, know how the game is played, and have both Gaston and Lefou intone, “No one plots like Gaston, takes cheap shots like Gaston.”

One could say that Gaston does have a redeeming moment at the end when he exhorts the Beast to fight him, but his challenge is really an empty one for two reasons: 1) the Beast is clearly dejected, and 2) Gaston knows that he will be extolled as sone worthy of extending his gene pool if he fights a worthy opponent.

However, Gaston’s veneered request for a good fight is peeled away when he stabs the Beast in the back.

Yes, the Disney writers certainly had a great deal of fun, undoubtedly drawing upon their own and shared experiences with men of muscle, and those around these pillars of brawn.

Mike Sledge

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