Disney is currently gorging on live-action remakes of animated films. In the works: Alice in Wonderland, Tomorrowland, Pete’s Dragon, and Dumbo. Perhaps the most hotly anticipated remake, though, is Beauty and the Beast.
Animated Beauty came out in 1991 at a time when I was still babysitting. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to that freakin’ soundtrack with E & M, the two charming children who lived next door to my parents. Angela Lansbury’s quavery voice rings clear in my memory. I just checked on YouTube and not only does it ring clear, it rings clear in the right key. I do not have perfect pitch. THAT SOUNDTRACK LAID DOWN PERMANENT GROOVES IN MY BRAIN.
AGAINST MY WILL.
So anyhow. Emma Watson announced in January that she will be playing the role of Belle. As much as I love EW, my first response was, “Just great – another white Disney princess.” Mind you, I was still recovering from Frozen (red hair is not equivalent to diversity) and Cinderella (with a cast about as diverse as the town of Wadena, MN).
I nervously awaited the release of the full cast list. Would they dare to be groundbreaking? (Mixed-race romantic lead partnership where race isn’t the theme.) Innovative? (A female Beast.) Heck, even representative of the ethnic diversity of the US movie watching audience?
The answers to the above mostly-rhetorical questions are no, no, and no. The good news is Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Audra McDonald are in the cast.
Watson could give her role to Mbatha-Raw or McDonald (ooh! A Belle in her 40s!), but women already have a hard time with pay equity and role availability. So, to remedy this situation, I suggest re-instituting the time-honored Shakespearean tradition of single-gender casting. And this time make it ALL WOMEN – including both trans- and cis-gendered, of course.
I’m fine with the Brit-actor theme but let’s include Naomi Harris, Ruth Negga, and Judith Shekoni. For shape diversity, let’s add Adele and Kirstie Alley to the mix. Ines Rau or Laverne Cox would make a lovely Belle. I also want Ming-Na Wen, Michelle Rodriguez, Jane Lynch, Alexis Arquette, American Ferrera, Vanessa Williams, Melissa McCarthy, Kelly Osbourne, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Alicia Keys, & Rosario Dawson.
Oh – and we’ll need a new director. Buh bye Bill Condon.
What suggestions do you have for Disney?