Alert the townspeople, because Emma Watson will star in the Beauty and the Beast live-action adaption as Belle. As you can imagine, this is the best news ever. Watson taking on a Disney princess role feels like it's a long time coming, as, for many, Watson has proven herself to be a role model to many females (young and old). Watson's casting in this tale as old as time might just be the push Disney princesses need in correcting old antifeminist tropes that often loom throughout Disney classics, and to celebrate Belle as the feminist character she already is!
There are a few things in Beauty and the Beast that stick out as antifeminist. First, there's Gaston, who is sexist and misogynistic. He believes he is entitled to have Belle as his wife (UGH), and won't stop until he gets her (double UGH). Then there is the entire plot line with Beast. Here is a guy who kidnaps Belle, and holds her captive in his castle until she falls in love with him. Not necessarily the best message to portray, but it is Belle's character herself that works against these sexist points of view and rises to portray a strong female lead.
In France, during the time the original film takes place, females were living under a strict code of conduct. Society had created roles for women, and they were relatively confined to what was expected. It was Belle that stood out from these roles. She didn't follow the expectations of society, instead denying town hunk Gaston's advances and following a nonconformist attitude. Once she is kidnapped by Beast, Belle chooses to fight back. Despite Beast taking her prisoner and expecting her to stay with him as his captive, Belle never falls into the "victim" role.
Emma Watson's campaign is feminism. It is my belief that she would not take on a role that encouraged a weak female character. In fact, I would say Watson is going to bring Belle to her full feminist status as a Disney princess. With the opportunities to allow modernized tweaks here and there, there is no doubt that this adaption of Beauty and the Beast will portray Belle as a powerful, strong, independent woman who deserves equality to the men surrounding her — even more so than in the Disney film or original fairy tale.
Recently, in a speech for HeForShe, Watson spoke on the desire to get to a point where women were reaching their full potentials as equals in society.
It is my belief that there is a greater understanding than ever that women need to be equal participants in our homes, in our societies, in our governments and in our workplaces. And they know that the world is being held back in every way because they are not.
If that doesn't sound like someone who is going to make an awesome feminist Disney princess, than I don't know what would.
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