It’s time for another Disney gender swap! This time: Beauty and the Beast. So, I’ve been planning this for a long time, but originally I had wanted to do a Beast/Belle swap, since I thought it would be interesting to see how the story changes with the Beast being a girl. However, Photoshopping Belle into a beast? Way too much work. So instead, here’s Belle and Gaston instead.
In this version of the story, Belle is a huntress, beloved by all the town and thus has a really bloated ego. She has her sights set on the most handsome man in town, the inventor’s son: Gaston, who looks a little something like this:
I honestly can’t look at this picture without cracking up. Note that his expression is in no way photoshopped. That’s from an actual screengrab.
Anyway, Gaston dreams of leaving this poor, provincial town and finding adventure in the great, wide somewhere. In addition to being seen by the town as an oddball with his nose constantly stuck in his books and his head up in the clouds, he is constantly being harassed by the boorish, brainless Belle. In a very stalker-y move, she plans a wedding outside Gaston’s house and then proposes to her, winding up in the muddy pond for her troubles. After Gaston’s father goes raving about a beast in the tavern while Belle is brooding there, Belle comes up with a plan to send his father to the asylum in order force him to marry her.
When Belle finds out that Gaston has fallen in love with a beastwoman in a forest castle, she gathers a mob and goes after her, setting her sights on killing the beast and mounting her head on her wall. Gaston, who has been imprisoned in his own house, manages to escape and run to save the Beast just as Belle is attempting to kill her. Belle ends up falling to her death from the castle’s turret and Gaston weeps, confessing his love to the dying beast, who changes back into a beautiful princess.
So, it’s always interesting to notice how our perceptions of a traditional Disney tale change with just the swapping of genders. Belle as the huntress character is much more proactive, almost to a fault. She stops at nothing to get her way. For a man like Gaston, this is not an unusual portrayal in films, especially for villains, but showing the darker side of obsession from the female side is something that is far less common. I do like the fact that she is badass with weapons, though, but I much less like the fact that she thinks books are dumb. That is something that I think they really did well with Beauty & the Beast–Belle is one of the most intelligent, rational Disney heroines. Sure, she ends up getting the guy in the end, but really she was just in it to save her father, a truly noble act.
If this were a Disney movie, I think a lot of people would think up some very unkind things to say about this version of Gaston–maybe that he’s weak, a nerd, a pansy, passive, whatever. Maybe some people might even think he’s an idiot for not wanting to marry the most beautiful girl in town, who’s a master hunting and beloved by all to the point where they sing songs about her. I am conflicted a bit about the message the Beast’s storyline sends. At first, it’s a story about loving someone for who they are, no matter what they look like, but then in the end the Beast becomes beautiful so really it is all about looks after all. Granted, that’s the same message in the original setup, but for some reason I feel like it’s a worse crime to give that message to young girls when the character it’s referring to actually is a girl.
Anyway, so there you have it! Whenever you’re having a bad day, just look at that dopey expression on Gaston’s face and you’ll feel instantly better.
Bonus: Before and after pictures!
(Click for full size)
Artist’s note: I kept a few muscles on Belle, just to follow with the “huntress” theme, but I slimmed her down to the size she actually is in the movie. Her waistline isn’t half as egregiously tiny as most other Disney heroines (Sleeping Beauty and the 3D ones like Frozen and Tangled being the most criminal of these misrepresentations). For Gaston, I did leave some of the muscles, but he’s about half the size he normally is. I didn’t want him looking like the Hulk about to burst out of Bruce Banner’s clothes, but I wanted him to look distinct from Belle so that he wasn’t just Gaston’s head on top of her body. Also note that Gaston is not wearing a dress; I turned the dress w/apron combo into a white shirt atop blue pants with a blue vest. He is wearing a bow in his hair, though, but if you look at the film, he wears a bow in his wedding outfit, and a ponytail at all times. (The bow actually is his wedding bow turned blue instead of the original yellow.)
Obligatory copyright notice: All characters, plots and original images are copyright Disney. Original screencaps provided by disneyscreencaps.com. The photoshopped images are mine and are works of fan art. No copyright infringement is intended.