When I first heard that Emma Watson was going to play Belle in the 2017 live-action film, I thought she would be perfect for the role. After playing the bookworm Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, it makes complete sense that she would take the role. However, I have recently discovered that Watson, a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, is also a huge advocate for the He For She Campaign. He For She is a feminist movement that encourages men to support the idea of equality between men and women. I know that a lot of people do not identify as a feminist because they don't understand what it is. Below is Watson's UN speech which perfectly explains what feminism is and why we should all be feminists: to create equality for all people, regardless of gender.
For those of you who haven't seen the movie or haven't seen it in a while, here is a quick synopsis. Belle is very beautiful, a bookworm and lives with her father, an inventor. When her father goes missing, she goes looking for him and ends up finding him in the Beast's dungeon where she trades her freedom for her father's. With all of the friendly, enchanted items in the castle, and Beast giving her his unused library as a gift, Belle begins to fall in love with Beast. Even when he lets her go, she returns to him. After the battle in which Beast defeats Gaston, Belle and Beast's love breaks the curse on the castle and turns all of the servants back into humans.
What does feminism have to do with Belle?
Well if you have watched any of the older Disney movies, they all are extremely anti-feminist. I am not, by any means, criticizing the movies because Beauty and the Beast was my favorite Disney movie as a child. However, Belle exhibits signs of Stockholm syndrome. I do see how this argument can be a little sensitive and many people may not agree with it. Again I've always loved this movie and I am not trying to say it's bad by any means.
Stockholm syndrome can be described as feelings of affection toward a captor in cases of hostage taking. Beast rips her away from all that she knows, puts her in a strange room and refuses to let her eat unless it's with him. Sorry, Belle, but that doesn't seem like the kind of man you should fall in love with. Granted, he does change throughout the movie into a nicer, sweeter person but that should not completely erase the fact that he hid her away from her normal life. So do you see why Emma Watson accepting this role seems odd? A woman falling in love with her male captor does not seem like the ideal role for someone with such strong, feminist beliefs.
So why would Emma Watson accept the role?
She is a young, beautiful and extremely intelligent actress who wants to be known for something other than being Hermione. Of course she has been in many great films since then like The Perks of Being a Wallflower but to be a Disney Princess could really make her career. And as shown below in one of her Facebook posts, what girl wouldn't want to play one of their favorite childhood characters?
Belle is still a strong female character
One of Emma Watson's goals is to inspire young people and Belle can certainly be that person. Living in a world where women do not read books but stay home with the children was not good enough for Belle. She didn't care what the norm was, she just loved to learn from books and did it! This has to be her best quality, along with the fact that she totally shut down the unbearably narcissistic Gaston.
Emma will still be excellent as Belle
Despite all the contradiction with Emma Watson's feminist views and the character she has decided to portray, Watson will, without a doubt, be great as Belle. She has proven in every role she's played that she is capable of the compassion and empathy that Belle shows to Beast and the rest of the characters throughout the movie. For me, this role will not diminish the fact that Emma Watson works tirelessly to promote the He For She campaign to make women and men equal. For all we know, her portrayal of Belle could be completely different from the animated version. Watson certainly does not seem like the type of person that would compromise her beliefs for a movie role. I will most definitely see this movie when it comes out just because I think Emma Watson is a phenomenal actress. 2017 cannot come soon enough!