BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: MISREPRESENTATION AND SOCIAL RESPONSES IN FAIRY-TALE ROMANCE AND REDEMPTION
AbstractViolence 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.
Copyright (c) 2019 Linda Coates, Shelly Bonnah, Cathy Richardson
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