BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: MISREPRESENTATION AND SOCIAL RESPONSES IN FAIRY-TALE ROMANCE AND REDEMPTION

  • Linda Coates Okanagan College
  • Shelly Bonnah City University of Seattle
  • Cathy Richardson/Kinewesquao University of Montreal
Keywords: response-based practice, feminine socialization, social responses, resistance to violence, violence

Abstract

Violence perpetrated in romantic or intimate relationships is common, dangerous, chronic, and gendered: males tend to commit this violence against females. We critically analyze scenes from the beginning of the 1991 film Beauty and the Beast using the theory of response-based practice to show how the film uses misrepresentation and social responses to disappear violence and advance the narrative of a fairy-tale love story. In response-based practice, the actions of social responders — people who respond to victims and perpetrators — are recognized as important for understanding the actions of the victims and perpetrators themselves. In this film, the servants are social responders and their actions are critical to the narrative of the film. We show how the servants actively use mutualization and misrepresentation to reformulate events, conceal the Beast’s abusive or violent actions, and obfuscate his responsibility for those actions: the Beast is held responsible merely for being uncouth in difficult circumstances. Each misrepresentation and each social response join together to create a story that is understandable as romance and redemption. In doing so, the tale can be understood as supporting many myths about violence against women and girls in intimate relationships. The film produces and reproduces common misrepresentations of violent social interaction, perpetrator actions, victim resistance, and the violence itself.

Author Biographies

Linda Coates, Okanagan College
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Shelly Bonnah, City University of Seattle
Associate faculty member
Cathy Richardson/Kinewesquao, University of Montreal
Associate Professor, Social Work
Published
2019-02-14