Is Gaston Dumb?

6 Apr

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I’ll start out with stating that I refuse to go and see the live action remake of my favourite Disney Animated Feature. It’s probably inevitable that I will see it, but my FB feed is full of nothing but how the live action movie is better than the original, because of the ‘problematic content’ (Stockholm syndrome, Belle’s supposed snobbery, etc). If you know me at all, I happen to be a fan of animation and puppetry in general, and, while I don’t think it’s wrong to be critical of something, I think there is something to say for, “That’s obviously not what they were going for, but mmmkay.” This is my quiet bit of rebellion, talking about the original.

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The town’s calling her odd, but she’s not trying hard enough to win them over. *SLOW CLAP*

But we’re here to discuss… Gaston isn’t supposed to be bright, but is he dumb?

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Gaston, among other things, doesn’t come across as brilliant, but that doesn’t mean he’s a basic bro jock. Making him stupid diminishes his threat factor somewhat. What’s my argument, other than that perhaps there’s more to this character than meets the eye (as per the theme of the film, dur hur).

1) Maurice suggests that Belle should try talking to him
When Belle mentions there’s no one in town she can really talk to, Maurice suggests Gaston. Child me thought it was because he was an important character and Disney with your average Disney film, this counts as character development. Grown up me suspects Maurice isn’t a complete nitwit – he’s an eccentric inventor ahead of his time, but still – if the pickings in town are slim, Gaston isn’t the dullest knife in the cupboard.

2) If you’re not with us, you’re against us
The actual biblical quote is along the lines of, “Whoever is not against us is for us”. I’m not saying you have to be brilliant to twist something out of context to get it to suit you; but it’s a quick bit of rhetoric when he’s already got the town riled behind him.

3) Mount your Courage to the Sticking Place

MB.Quote appears in Beauty and the Beast
This, to me, is more about good writers hiding things rather than really alluding much to Gaston. However, he must have heard it from somewhere…

4) “It’s not right for a woman to read… soon she starts getting ideas, and thinking…”
Small girl-child knew this mindset was backwards and meant to make the audience dislike Gaston. Minutes later, he thanks Belle for calling him “Primeval” it’s probably assumed that he doesn’t know what this means… but, what if he does, and he takes it as a complement? For all we know, he’s fully aware of a world out there that’s more, but he represents the sure thing – he’s a practical hunter, afterall.

5) The Plot against Maurice
He tells Le Fou that he has been thinking – a dangerous past time. HOWEVER, he downplays it. He’s downplaying his threat – society likes manly biting, losing at chess Gaston.

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Gaston knows this, and he wants approval and everybody to love him. He’ll get what he wants, but he plays the game. He’s strong enough to put a boot to Maurice and force Belle down the altar. He’s not doing it that way. Why? (Other than that it’s a Disney movie…) Because in his own mind, he’s the good guy, the hero – he’s a product of the world.

So what do you think? Am I off the mark here?

 

And for the record, I don’t hate the town. This part of the song is comedy gold, y’all.

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Kudos to whoever was principle animator on Gaston, I love his expressions.

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One Response to “Is Gaston Dumb?”

  1. Kathy Trueman April 20, 2017 at 5:50 pm #

    These are some good points. I plan to see the remake, but I have no intention of saying one is better than the other. Despite it being the same story, almost frame by frame in some places, to me comparing them is apples and oranges. I can like both.

    I agree, too, with Gaston. I wouldn’t call him smart, but he’s cunning and swift to adapt to circumstances. His downfall came from ego, not stupidity. I will disagree with you on the “It’s not right for a woman to read” part – I don’t think they wanted to present him as stupid, but they did want him to be uneducated.

    As for the town, why would anyone hate it? If anything, I got a bad impression of Belle (and never really warmed to her, no matter how much I identified with her, which I did) because of her disdain for the town.

    Supervising Animator for Gaston was Andreas Deja. I also loved his voice, especially his singing voice. I could forgive a lot, for a guy with those pipes.

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