I went to see the new Beauty and the Beast a few days ago. The one with Emma Watson, that fella from Downton Abbey, and Ewan McGregor spouting the dodgiest French accent this side of an episode of `allo `allo. No disrespect to anyone involved but expectations were…well…low. The original BATB is a classic and a staple of my childhood. As a rule, the years since said childhood have not been kind to other staples. (See: Jurassic World. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Anything involving Johnny Depp.)
It didn’t help that I’d made the mistake of watching the remake of Cinderella a few weeks before. Expectations had been higher for that one, and you know what they say about being repeatedly bitten and the inevitable shyness that can ensue. Don’t get me wrong – it had its moments. After all, who doesn’t want to befriend mice in attics and run around in shoes that, under the right circumstances, could be used as offensive weapons? That sounds like a crackin’ way to spend an afternoon. No, I would say my biggest bugbear with Cinderella was that bloody motto. The one that goes:
‘Have courage and be kind.”
Admittedly, it sounds great when you look at it at first. As part of a longer sentence it could work pretty well, but there needs to be a but in there and it needs to be a big one. (What can I say? I like big buts and I cannot lie.) For the sentence to be useful advice, it should actually read:
“Have courage and be kind…but don’t be a fucking idiot about it.”
Because it isn’t just that Cinders accepts the shit that’s shovelled onto her (example number 783: she tells the royal gathering at the end of the film that her name is Cinderella, despite that fact it fucking isn’t – Cinderella is a horrible nickname that actively made her cry.) It’s that the moral of the story seems to be that if you are passive and pretty and perennially hopeful, a prince will hear you warbling out the window of the room your sociopathic step-mother locked you in and come to your rescue. I don’t know about you, but if I tried that tack, he’d probably be more inclined to demand double-glazed glass to stop the sound of my shrieking.
Now, to be fair to Ella, this is hardly a new problem. You could argue it’s a basis for many of the stories we encounter and Beauty and the Beast, as a tale, isn’t radically different. But as I watched this new version of Belle pick up a stick before entering the obviously dodgy castle, I had to stop myself cheering out loud. What a fucking legend! She does it multiple times, too. And when she’s locked in her room, she doesn’t loll around weeping on the bed – she tries to climb out the window. How baller is that?! If only she’d borrowed Cinderella’s shoes. She could have glassed the Beast and been out of there, crazy father in tow, in ten seconds flat. It would have made for a much shorter film, mind you.
Don’t get me wrong – BATB has many, many problems. It’s essentially an extended advertisement for Stockholm Syndrome, and the whole ‘potential for bestiality’ thing does somewhat put a dampener on things. But she weaponised, guys! Fuckin’ A!
So, I hear you wonder. How does this relate in any way to the world of dating? Well, it doesn’t really. Except that the next time you get a creeper sending you dick pics you definitely didn’t ask for, maybe you could try the following approach:
Have courage, don’t be kind, and reach for the nearest available stick.