It was the middle of the Depression, 1935, when Variety, the Bible of show biz, ran the famous headline at left. "STICKS NIX HICK PIX" was their way of describing the slow business that movies about rural America were doing at theaters in rural America.
Listen, if you were living in dust-bowl Oklahoma in those days, the last thing you wanted to see on date night was how things were going in your neck of the woods. It was brutal. So that's why lavish Busby Berkeley movies and films about gangsters played big down on the farm...escapism is always a nice way to while away a Saturday night at the movies.
Well, sir, here it is 2017, and from all the way down in Henagar, DeKalb County, Alabama, you can hear the kids howling all the way up here because the Henagar Drive-In Theatre has decided not to show the new Disney movie "Beauty and the Beast" because the film will feature Disney’s first openly gay character.
The Disney people say this is "a tale as old as time," and yet, so is foolish prejudice.
I don't know the first thing about this "B and the B" tale but I know it's made-up and unreal. Fiction, you know?
I read that Josh Gad voices LeFou - the nutty buddy of the villain Gaston - and that makes LeFou the first-ever gay character in a Disney flick.
I mean, really. Who cares about this stuff anymore? LGBTQ people are everywhere. They're installing pacemakers in your heart, they're selling you shoes, they're driving cars and eating nachos and falling in love and doing everything that the straights who object to them do. And from what I read, the character is not shown participating in any same-sex sex, so even though "Gad...plays LeFou as maximally silly and fawning...I must have missed the memo where that spells ‘gay,'" as Variety chief film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote in his review, the kids can't see him being silly.
If they're not allowing movies with silly characters, business is going to be pretty slow while everyone goes elsewhere to see Adam Sandler films. And of course, we can't have the children seeing war movies, can we? So what's left to see?
The kids in 'Bama are being denied the chance to see this latest Disney picture because the unnamed owner of the drive-in feels this way:
"When companies continually force their views on us, we need to take a stand. We all make choices and I am making mine," said a statement, since deleted, on the drive-in's Facebook page. "If we cannot take our 11-year-old granddaughter and 8-year-old grandson to see a movie, we have no business watching it. If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me, then we have no business showing it. We will continue to show family-oriented films so you can feel free to come watch wholesome movies without worrying about sex, nudity, homosexuality, and foul language."
Of course, this is the way we marginalize others, by just coming out (!) and saying we're better than they are, and we walk more closely with God than they do.
But I've been hearing about this divided country we are said to be living in, and I suggest that the operators of this theater should stop and think about this clumsy censoriousness and what it's not doing to heal that rift.
Kids will see this movie. Gay people are accepted members of society. Seeing them in movies or meeting them for lunch or voting for them to represent you in Congress won't do you a bit of harm, but continuing to hate them or anyone else will eat away at your soul.