Why My Wife and I Are Not Boycotting ‘Beauty and the Beast’

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There are two things I would love for the readers of REO to know before reading this. One is public and one is more private.

First, we have been clear that it has never been our intention to constantly opine on the social media debate of the week in the US, whether political or cultural. We occasionally do so, but to give a proportion, we’ve written around 150 articles in the last nine months, and about 4 of them have mentioned Donald Trump or anything explicitly political by name. We write about what we love and we do not want to be a click bait website.

Secondly, and something we have not talked about as much, we organize pretty thoroughly behind the scenes what we want to do and how to go about doing it and when to publish what we write, etc. There is feedback and discussion and nothing is published without being filtered through the staff. And in an attempt to be prepared, we will often give ideas for articles months ahead of time.

As far back as late January, I bought tickets for my wife and I to go see Beauty and the Beast in our local theater the night of March 16th (the first showing possible) and then communicated to the REO staff that I wanted to write a 500 Words or Less review for the site to run on March 17th. So people who plan to see it can read a review from our site before going. Beauty and the Beast is easily my wife’s favorite Disney production; I’ve known since nearly the beginning of our relationship how much she adores Belle. And even I was a little excited to see the woman I know as Hermione Granger playing the lead.

In the last few days, however, this movie has made waves among many people we know due to the announcement of a gay character being introduced. Christians in particular have been vocal about not wanting to watch it and even using words like “boycott.” This has caused me to wonder how to go about handling my review next week because my wife and I still plan to see it.

In an attempt to be transparent with our readers–and not to cause conflict just to shamelessly gain clicks on our site–I want to explain ahead of time why we are still going so that when our review comes out next week there is no surprise.

To our knowledge, my wife and I have never “boycotted” anything. We never considered boycotting Target last year and I have not boycotted anything for political or religious reasons as far back as I can remember. There are definitely things I have refused to see or participate in (like any of the 50 Shades movies), but we have never avoided something we would normally see or patronize because of a change in policy or a change similar to the one Beauty and the Beast has made for this 2017 live action version.

The reason is that it simply does not offend me in the sense that it will cause me to do, think or believe anything wrong. If a movie I wanted to see decided to have nudity, that would be one thing. This is different to me. I, personally, would find it hypocritical for me to pick and choose certain things to be offended by in entertainment and not others. I have written about numerous books, TV shows and moves for this site, nearly all of which feature things Christians could claim to be offended by, but they quite often do not. To be consistent, I have settled on defining ‘offense’ as things that truly cause me to stumble in my faith. What Disney has decided to do does not qualify as that any more than an average episode of Seinfeld.

Also, I personally have decided that as a Christian I can do greater good by having conversations with people I disagree with instead of boycotting things where communication and attempts to dialogue often do not take place. I do not judge  anyone who chooses to boycott this movie. Please note the continuous use of the word ‘personal’ in this article. If someone wants to boycott things, that is their right. I just think in my life and in my context I would do more harm in culture wars to boycott with a public announcement, instead of trying to facilitate productive discussion. Especially if I am not engaging people outside of social media to try to practice being slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to get angry.

We hope this does not cause anyone to think less of me or REO in general, or even to unfollow us. Every one of our writers believes the Bible is the Word of God and that it is true in all that it teaches. We maintain historical, orthodox positions on all doctrines as best we understand them. But I personally believe the way we live out the Bible in the culture wars may change person to person. I, Gowdy Cannon, choose to not boycott Beauty and the Beast for the reasons in the recent news. I think I can do good by not doing so.

But we love to hear back from our readers and I am not above criticism. We welcome comments of any stripe that are conducive to healthy discussion. So if you would like, please let us know what you think below.

Gowdy Cannon

I am the pastor of the bilingual ministry of Northwest Community Church in Chicago. Our church is intentional in trying to bring English and Spanish speakers together in worship and community. My wife, Kayla, and I have been married almost two years. I teach ESL (English as a Second Language) classes to adult immigrants in my community. I am, at times, a student at Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago. I love The USC (the real one in SC, not the other one in CA), Seinfeld, John 3:30, Chic-Fil-A, Dumb and Dumber, the book of Job, preaching and teaching, and arguing about sports.

16 thoughts on “Why My Wife and I Are Not Boycotting ‘Beauty and the Beast’

  • March 6, 2017 at 11:40 am
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    One thing Gowdy did not address is how the inclusion of an “exclusively gay moment” in the new film affects parents that were thinking about taking their children to see this film. I have three boys, none of whom were that excited about the film to begin with, so I am off the hook, in a manner of speaking. I do feel for those parents of children – particularly young girls – that have been very excited about seeing this film. You are in a tough position. I would love to hear any thoughts you might have on this.

    I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. No decision that can be applied across the board to all families. I strongly advocate knowing your children, what they can handle, and what you are willing to expose them to in a responsible and careful manner. I’m not convinced that public boycotts are effective or valuable. But, that is not the same as supporting a film that you believe will be harmful to your child. It’s complicated and nuanced and I hope this can be a venue to discuss it and figure out some things together.

    Reply
    • March 6, 2017 at 1:11 pm
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      I have two girls, so we will have to make that decision. From what I’ve heard about the movie, the scenes that point to the fact that the character is indeed gay are not very subtle. My biggest fear is not that my little girls will walk out of the theater saying “I think that lifestyle is acceptable,” but that they will laugh about a couple of the scenes and even mention them later. I know that we can’t shelter kids from everything bad in the world, but as parents we have the responsibility to filter what our kids view or read or listen to until the time when we think they are old enough to use discernment. I think that if we don’t make decisions to filter these things out when they are very young, it will be harder to teach them discernment later because by then certain things will be normalized in their worldview.

      There are certain movies that I love today that I wasn’t able to watch at the same time my piers were watching them because my parents felt that the content was too mature for me. I am glad they did that because when I finally did start watching them I was able to process the content with the discernment that my parents had taught me.

      I don’t know how I will handle it when my kids realize that the movie exists and that they haven’t seen it yet. Maybe I’ll do what others have said they will do and edit it. Maybe I will just clearly state that we are going to wait a while before we let them watch it. Whatever we decide to do, I think that the Disney company has clearly stated where they stand on this issue and I won’t be surprised if in the next few years there is a more explicit example of a gay or lesbian relationship in a Disney movie. I just hope they leave it out of the Star Wars movies.

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  • March 6, 2017 at 12:12 pm
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    A few more thoughts…

    Christians are called to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Crying “Boycott!” and “Sin!” every time something like this happens in our society doesn’t really seem particularly wise or innocent. Example: when Finding Dory was about to be released, there was a controversy about a lesbian couple being in the film – and a transgender stingray. The lesbian couple idea was based on one shot in the trailer for the film that showed two women dealing with one baby – making it appear they were a couple and that was their baby. Boycotts were proposed. Christians were fired up about this blatant attempt to indoctrinate our children. Well, the film itself had no transgender stingray or a lesbian couple. The stingray was a joke made by one of the stars of the movie. And the lesbian couple was only a lesbian couple if you clearly wanted them to be a lesbian couple. The film took no position on their relationship.

    Yet the world got to see Christians trying to burn another witch that had turned a poor fellow into a newt.

    Here is a suggestion on how to be wise and innocent: If you have concerns about the film don’t go see it opening weekend. Wait until people you know and trust have seen it. Read reviews. Read Christian responses to the film – there will be plenty available. Find reasonable voices that don’t jump on bandwagons. If there truly is a moment in the film that crosses the line for you, then do not see it.

    REO will be publishing a review for it – as Gowdy mentioned above. He will address the controversy in that review, of this I have no doubt. Be wise and innocent about this decision. Don’t rush to judgment over something that might turn out to be nothing.

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  • March 6, 2017 at 12:30 pm
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    My husband and I discussed this, and we don’t plan to see the movie. Namely for the reasons already listed, but some movies, can’t be remade. The original movie was good by itself and did not need to be redone at all in my opinion. We have an 8 year old son who really doesn’t care too much about Beauty and the Beast so like you say “we are off the hook.” I can remember as a child there were certain things we just did not do because my Dad who was a pastor felt strongly about it. We did not go to school dances, and we did not go to movies. Nothing wrong with you doing those things but for our family this just wasn’t what my Father felt Christians needed to be doing. Same principle applies. If you choose to boycott the film because it makes you uncomfortable with the themes presented than don’t go. I think we are too vocal some times in what we are for and what we are against. Just don’t go, and don’t tell anyone about it, or vice versa. Pray about it, and it’s up to your as the parents to make the right choice for your family. Just my two cents. :)

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  • March 6, 2017 at 2:24 pm
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    Phill mentioned this above…
    “Here is a suggestion on how to be wise and innocent: If you have concerns about the film don’t go see it opening weekend. Wait until people you know and trust have seen it. Read reviews. Read Christian responses to the film – there will be plenty available. Find reasonable voices that don’t jump on bandwagons. If there truly is a moment in the film that crosses the line for you, then do not see it.

    REO will be publishing a review for it – as Gowdy mentioned above. He will address the controversy in that review, of this I have no doubt. Be wise and innocent about this decision.”

    This is really good advice, Phill. I personally will not watch the movie. My wife who has been looking forward to seeing this movie for the past 9 months might still go see it. I will let her decide for herself. But I also have 3 daughters (an 8 year old and twin 7 year olds) who would love to see this movie. I will NOT let them decide for themselves. As their dad, it is my role to teach them what a loving home and marital relationship is like, but also that there are boundaries put in place by God that make it a safe and trusting place. I must be wise concerning these boundaries for my personal family.

    I am still waiting on reading good reviews, like I am confident Gowdy will provide, before I decide whether to let them see the movie. As of right now based upon what I have heard and read, it is unlikely. It doesn’t matter to me if they are disappointed now; it matters that they trust their Dad’s judgment. And in time, I will give more reasons to them for clarification, but not until I feel they are ready to understand.

    I am glad Gowdy and his wife are seeing the movie and plan to write a review. I think some genuine Christians, preferably ones that don’t have young kids living at home, need to do this very thing. So Gowdy, thank you. I look forward to reading your analysis. I am sure it will be one that helps me come to a decision for my girls. And I hope you feel extreme pressure as you review the movie, knowing that Christian families all across America are relying upon your opinions.

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  • March 6, 2017 at 2:30 pm
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    Phill, you also wrote this comment above…
    “Don’t rush to judgment over something that might turn out to be nothing.”

    I definitely agree with this statement. On the flip-side, we should rush to judgment for the sake of our families if it does turn out to be something. One of my favorite non-biblical quotes is by the great Martin Luther.
    He said “To go against one’s conscience is neither right nor safe.”

    More Christians would be better off if they heeded his advice instead of some of the “Christian” rhetoric we hear now. I am not saying you should judge everybody else based upon your own conscience; but you should definitely allow your own conscience to make discretionary decisions for yourself and your family. Eternity isn’t worth my bad decisions.

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  • March 6, 2017 at 2:49 pm
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    David said,
    “On the flip-side, we should rush to judgment for the sake of our families if it does turn out to be something. One of my favorite non-biblical quotes is by the great Martin Luther.” I don’t consider that rushing to judgment. If it turns out to be something, that means you have taken the time to do your homework, instead of condemning it weeks before anyone has seen it.

    I’m just glad Gowdy is taking this particular “cultural” bullet for all of us. :)

    Reply
    • March 6, 2017 at 7:46 pm
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      Gotta support the team (David Puddy)

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    • March 7, 2017 at 8:25 am
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      Now we’re just talking semantics. By “rush to judgment” above I was referring to the final proclamation of judgment (more commonly known as a verdict) once all evidence has been submitted. No, I definitely don’t want to judge before evidence has been compiled. But once it has, the final judgment doesn’t need to be deliberated very long. I plan to make a decision quickly for my children.

      And even though I don’t know him well like you do, I know enough about Gowdy that I trust much of his wisdom and insight on things of this nature. I’m glad he’s the one writing the review, too.

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      • March 7, 2017 at 9:25 am
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        I wasn’t trying to argue or make this about semantics. I really do think the generally understood definition of “rush to judgment” is to judge something without all the evidence. At least, that is how I have always understood it.

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        • March 7, 2017 at 1:13 pm
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          I know you weren’t trying to just argue. I hope my comments didn’t come across too harsh. I was not intending for it to be that way. I was just having some fun with my response. Trust me, there is no offense taken.

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  • March 6, 2017 at 7:47 pm
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    In all seriousness I love the comments that have been made – by REO people and guests to our site. Wisdom abounds in these thoughts. Thank you to all for (so far) producing helpful and civil dialogue about a potentially landmine topic.

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  • March 7, 2017 at 1:31 am
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    Thanks, Gowdy. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the movie. I’d still like to see it, though honestly I haven’t loved what I’ve seen of the new effects via the previews and trailers.
    As far as the controversial news is concerned, we re-planned our daughter’s (4th) birthday party due to the information. While I’m sure it’d make for a fun night out at the movies with my husband, our kids (girl newly 4, boys 5 and 7) aren’t at that place of discernment discussed above.
    I’m just glad the decision was communicated publicly when it was, as our invites for the screening bday party weren’t finished or sent out yet!

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    • March 7, 2017 at 7:33 am
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      I don’t envy parents having to make these types of decisions but I do admire the parents who have spoken here and know they only want the best for their kids out of a godly motivation.

      I’ll do the best I can with the review; I don’t have “parent eyes” but I will be as honest and to the point as possible. My wife will help me write it and she teaches young kids so that may help.

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  • March 7, 2017 at 10:05 pm
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    My husband and I happen to be very strict about what our kids watch. We are bio, adoptive, and foster parents. We feel a great responsibility to retrain right and wrong and morals for our children who have been raised with few morals. That being said 1 of our 5 children is my 7 year old daughter. I had hoped to be able to watch this with her and will wait judgment until I see some reviews but unfortunately I doubt this will be something I will let her watch. I myself will most likely still watch. I appreciate all the views and comments here.

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    • March 8, 2017 at 8:54 am
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      I am just happy to hear that so many parents are actually thinking through this stuff. I know too many people that just allow their kids to watch virtually anything. Or people that allow themselves to watch anything without considering what it means or how it will affect them.

      Reply

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