I wasn’t going to see the new “Beauty and the Beast,” although I’d been looking forward to it ever since it was announced two years ago, because of that “gay factor.”
But then I decided to go anyway, because I remembered something: People are not always worth listening to.
So here’s this very conservative Christian’s take on it: I LOVED IT!
Oh, it was bigger than life! Visually gorgeous, with additions to the story that made it so much richer than the 1991 cartoon. The music and the characters all had greater depth, the story deeper meaning, and “those scenes”? Can we say, much ado about nothing?
I’d been betrayed.
Thrown into angst over really nothing.
In fact, I found myself quite liking the “gay” character LeFou. He was never as evil or nasty as some reviewers had suggested, and became the voice of reason toward the end, making some excellent choices. His orientation (which he’s not entirely sure about himself) had no bearing upon his improving character. (And yes, I caught all the verbal references, and I thought they were pertinent and hilarious.)
Indeed, I found myself rather ticked off that I’d ever considered boycotting the movie because of the raging on both sides of the issue. The “This is our first gay character and we’re proud!” was merely PR blustering, because once I saw the movie I was left thinking, “Sheesh. THAT’S gay? Gimme a break.” Then there was the “Oh, horrible Disney! It’s all over and the world will end with this movie!” blustering on the other side which now makes me roll my eyes. (And as for the old argument that the movie promotes bestiality? Those worriers don’t know what bestiality is. Belle clearly is attracted to the beast’s humanity, such as his knowledge of literature.)
All of which had me pondering as I drove home from the movie, “Does something have to be perfect—‘perfect’ according to my very particular standards and sensibilities—in order to be ‘good enough’ for me to enjoy?”
No. Nothing needs to be ‘perfect’ because why in the world should I expect the world to meet my peculiar sense of perfect? Or anyone else’s idea of “perfect”?
Another movie example: I finally saw “Moana,” and I’d heard criticisms of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s singing in “You’re Welcome.” Cringing in worry when he started, I soon relaxed, because you know what? He sang great! Better than me, that’s for sure. (And that’s not hard, either. Is there anything dear Dwayne can’t do?*) (Listen for yourself, and I defy you to not have this earworm stuck in your head for the rest of forever.)
Too many critics, too many snarky folks insisting that this wasn’t perfect in the movie, or that could have been better, kept me from watching “Moana” until this past weekend. And you know what? I LOVED IT! I’m getting the music to add to my walking repertoire.
I find myself scratching my head more and more frequently at the immense criticism flying around about every last little thing, and finding that very little of it is actually deserved. I need to stop listening to people, at least the critical ones. And at times it seems nearly everyone is a critic, for the worst of reasons.
It’s as if we’re finding power and authority in dragging someone else down.
As if we think we’re something special because we can nitpick someone else.
As if we can’t accept something unless it’s our perception of perfect.
Here’s the thing: NO ONE and NOTHING is perfect! (Not even “Rogue One,” which some of my Star Wars crazed children believe IS PERFECT, even though I LOVED IT!)
Ask yourself this: why should my definition of perfect be met by others? Why should I expect writers and actors and politicians and music and entertainment and stores and products and every last little thing in the world pander to what I believe is perfect?
How utterly self-centered and childish.
Here’s the other thing, the more important thing: God doesn’t demand that we’re perfect, either. He loves and appreciates us as we are.
Now, He tells us to strive for perfection, which, according to the scriptures, actually means becoming one with God the Father. Jesus himself didn’t declare himself perfect until after he was resurrected and was one with the Father, which tells me that perfection is impossible in life.
However, perfection is the goal, because it has to be. Nothing less, really, will do. As the great football coach Vince Lombardi said, “We strive for perfection, knowing we’ll never get it, but achieve excellence as we do so.”
Ah, EXCELLENCE! THAT’S the mark! Perfection is impossible; for you, for me, for anything we experience.
But excellence? That’s everywhere! I can create lists of truly excellent movies, music, people, books, art, national parks—and I’d probably never find an end to them.
“Beauty and the Beast” was excellent. So was “Moana,” and “Rogue One.” So are thousands and millions of other things.
Enjoy that excellence! See how someone else did something well, and let it inspire you to try to make something excellent in return. There’s no reason—no decent, good, honest reason whatsoever—to demean and denounce and degrade something minor in something that is excellent.
Because isn’t it wonderful that something can be marvelous, but the minor smudges left by the very human people who created it remain, and still it’s excellent?
So instead of harping upon these flaws, these perceived slights to our overly sensitive sensibilities, forgive them. Accept them. Take heart in them, that excellence abounds despite small failures.
Excellence abounds even in us, despite all of our failures. Maybe we need to be more accepting of ourselves to be more appreciative of the wondrous success of others around us. We’re not competing with them; we’re being inspired by them!
That’s why I’m not listening to the critical voices anymore, because think of the most critical people you know, those who are never satisfied, those who can always find even the smallest imperfection and shine a magnifying spotlight on it. Aren’t those also the most miserable people you know? Aren’t the most self-righteous also the least righteous?
No one likes the critic. There’s nothing noble in criticism. Never has been. I’m beginning to suspect the most critical people are also those who never attempt to do anything themselves, so that they never are subjected to critics like themselves. Perhaps it’s jealousy that drives them to pick at others, or immense insecurity. Or fear of their own failure.
Criticism doesn’t bring joy. It doesn’t bring improvement. It doesn’t fix anything, either.
But appreciating someone’s efforts does. Identifying and acknowledging their successes. Learning from what they’ve learned. Rejoicing in their excellence, and taking from it that nudge to make something more excellent yourself—there, THERE is joy!
This world and people who make stuff in it are fantastic. Once we quit criticizing every potentially offensive item, we’ll discover what an amazing place we live in.
(And if you can’t, I’ll simply quit listening to you.)
Mahrree’s heart sank to her knees as she watched the three darling girls who she loved so much do their best, their eyes darting over to her as they read their lines, anxious for her approval, and likely fearing her criticism.
They had done their best. Who was Mahrree to point out anything else?
~Book 6, Flight of the Wounded Falcon, coming May 2017
(*Totally unrelated to anything here, but an epiphany I had the other day–for those who have read my books, Perrin Shin is about 20% Dwayne Johnson. The other parts of him are Yun-Fat Chow, Colin Firth, Manu Bennett, and my husband, the cute man there in the corner.)