The other night I watched a retelling of the fairytale, Beauty and the Beast. To be honest, it was only okay as far as the acting went. The story line was a bit far-fetched too, but since it was supposed to be a hypermodern version of a fairytale, I was willing to suspend belief a bit.
After watching the movie though I was struck by several things. First of all, the whole idea of this tale is to impress the importance of looking beyond the outward appearance. This echos the Bible because God said to Samuel, "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart."
As Christians, we know that to be true, but I know I often fall into the trap of letting first appearances sway my judgment or perceptions about someone.
As far as the fairytale goes, it seems funny to me that so many retellings of Beauty and the Beast exist. We seem to be fascinated with the idea of seeing beauty and worth beneath a repulsive exterior. Yet, if you look at other fairytales, the heroine of the story is always beautiful. Snow White wasn't plain. Cinderella didn't have buck teeth. Ariel wasn't chubby. So even though the tale is trying to give a lesson, the whole idea doesn't seem to sink very deep.
In our modern times, the idea of seeing beyond the surface seems appealing but how many movie stars have you seen lately that aren't beautiful. And the lengths that many go to achieve that polished perfection are truly scary! So, as fascinated as we are with the idea, we don't, as a cultural whole, seem to put it into practice much these days.
In fact, I recently heard something on the radio that I found deeply disturbing. This study or survey (can't remember which since I was in the car and couldn't really take notes) looked at the top New Year's Resolutions for 2011. For young girls and women, most of those included their appearance in some way - weight, hair, skin, etc.
In the 1930's and 40's, the top resolutions had a lot more to do with character - being kinder or more truthful. I think that is a sad commentary on our world today. Everything is at the surface these days.
The other thing I have noticed is that Beauty is ALWAYS a woman/girl and the beast is always the guy. Why is that? I mean, couldn't a handsome man look past the exterior of a homely girl and see the beauty of character beneath? Is this a judgment on men's character somehow? I know men are much more visual creatures but they also have character and integrity. Makes you kind of go "hmmm."
And the last thing that hit me was that if the lesson to learn is that outward appearances don't matter, why does the beast always regain his former glory? I mean, if it isn't important, why make the beast look great again? Why is the reward, the thing that caused the problem in the first place? Is it like the bonus and if it IS the bonus, isn't that going against the entire lesson anyway?
I'm sure the makers of the movie I watched had no intention of sparking deep questions in viewers. In fact, I'm pretty sure of it! But it did make me wonder how much I look at a person's outward appearance and how much I look at the heart (although I can't possibly really know another person's heart but you know what I mean). How often do I allow first impressions to color my view of someone? I would hope I am not swayed by outward appearances but I'm sure that I am.
It also begs the question - how much am I wrapped up in MY outward appearance? Do I put too much emphasis on it? The Bible says that exercise, while good, is futile; that beauty too is fleeting. A lot of questions for an average movie.
~ Blessings, Bronte