Over-Analyzing Disney: Why Gaston Isn't Such a Bad Guy After All

Quick, who's the villain of Beauty and the Beast? It's Gaston, right? Of course it is - he's arrogant, he's pushy, he's mean-spirited, and, most importantly of all, Wikipedia lists him as one. Sure enough, Gaston devotes every second of his screen time to being vapid and controlling as he relentlessly tries to force Belle to marry him and push out a basketball team's worth of copies of himself. There's no way anyone could argue that Disney's youngest villain isn't a hairy pile of pure evil with a ponytail, right?

Despite having the hairline of a 47-year-old man, Disney alleges that he's actually around 25.

Wrong! In keeping with last week's post about villains and children's cartoons from the 1990s, I decided to use this week's post to meticulously comb through a 22-year-old Disney movie to examine whether or not Gaston, narcissistic huntsman and antler aficionado, is really such a bad guy after all.

For now, we're not going to count his gratuitous chest hair as a crime.

When you're deciding whether Gaston is malicious or just misunderstood, keep in mind that:

He's illiterate. 

People who don't like books are awful, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing embarrassments to human evolution, and they deserve to be thrown into tar pits so that their preserved bones might at least have some educational value to people living tens of thousands of years from now. Any child or librarian could tell you that. And so when Gaston casually tosses Belle's precious book into the mud, that's really all we need to see to know that he deserves to be thrown off the top of an improbably high tower.

Here, Disney plays a clever game of "spot the pornography joke".*

This is where a wonderful thing called 'historical context' comes in. The movie never actually specifies what year they're supposed to be living in, but the coexistence of bookstores and chamber pots points to sometime in the mid-18th century. For those of you who spent every single history class of your life snorting cocaine instead of paying attention, the 18th century was not a particularly great time for book-learnin'. Unless you a) had a penis and a royal title, or b) had a family whose livelihood depended on knowing their ABCs, chances are, no one would ever bother to teach you to read. Gaston is a huntsman. His entire job is to shoot things. Of course he tosses Belle's book aside; her passion for reading is the 18th-century equivalent of spending all day tinkering with an obscure programming language. Belle herself shouldn't be so high and mighty about it - her own ability to read is just sheer dumb luck. If she'd been born to almost any other villager besides the inventor, her perky, illiterate ass would be parked right next to Gaston's blonde admirers on that bench. 

They're waiting.

The fact that they live in the 'pooping in pottery' era of human history aside, Gaston isn't the brightest human being to ever grace the Earth. And that's not his fault. His full name, Gaston LeGume, literally translates to "The Vegetable of Gascony", with "Gascony" referring to the real-life French province where they live. He's a few croissants shy of a dozen, is what I'm saying. His world is comprised of muscles, guns, and holding metaphorical dick-measuring contests in the town bar; books aren't even on his radar. That might make him a poor match for Belle, but can we really claim that that makes him a bad person? I posit that we cannot.

Brains are not his strong suit.

Belle should want to marry him.

The definition of an ideal marriage is a multi-billion dollar question that could be the sole subject of entire blogs by itself. No matter how you feel about couples with matching genitals, however, most people in the Western world do agree on one thing: couples should at least be able to stand each other before they get married. In fact, they should ideally be quite fond of each other. If they really want to go the extra mile, they might even find some things that they have in common with each other before tying the knot. That's what makes Gaston's proposal to Belle so ridiculous - they have nothing in common, while Belle and her true love, Prince "The Beast" Adam, bonded instantly over their mutual love of, uh... eating porridge with their faces?

Ladies, control your trembling loins.

Except, once again, the fact that Belle was born in the year "17-something-something" is an issue. In her time, marriage wasn't about finding someone to have deep conversations with through the night. It was about finding someone who was capable of preventing your ass from starving. Remember, as a Renaissance-period woman, Belle doesn't have any career options open to her that involve keeping her knickers on. If she doesn't want to end up in the world's oldest profession when her father dies, she needs a husband, and a girl could do a lot worse than Gaston. 

People who read to sheep in public fountains don't usually have great marriage prospects.

He may not be her soulmate or intellectual equal, but Gaston is more than capable of providing for her. He's popular. He's successful. In an age where the average man spends his entire life coughing up blood and chunks of lung until he drops dead from yellow fever at the ripe old age of 35, Gaston is almost unnecessarily healthy. He's not looking to love her and leave her penniless; Gaston makes it uncomfortably clear that he intends to have a life with Belle and raise a family together. If she wants her essential needs covered, with a little extra money left over for books, she shouldn't be so quick to turn her nose up at the town's most eligible bachelor.

And just think of all the antlers she'll have.

His beliefs are justified.

Imagine, for just a moment, that you wandered out of your house one day and saw the object of your unrequited affection in the arms of a four-headed green alien. Would you wait patiently for your crush to explain that the alien is actually a lovely individual and a generous lover? Of course not. You'd run screaming into the house to find the biggest projectile your little noodle arms can lift, so you can hurl it at the monster and rescue your beloved. So when Gaston's first reaction to seeing the Beast is to rally the villagers and head off on a late-night murdering adventure, is that really so hard to understand? He hunts animals for a living, he wants to marry Belle, and his IQ is room-temperature at best. How else is he supposed to react? He's the village's entire supply of testosterone; they're hardly going to be receptive to him suggesting that they embrace the beast as a source of diversity in their currently-monsterless town.

He just wants a hug.

Another one of Gaston's more questionable beliefs is his belief that Belle is the absolute ideal wife, just because she's just so gosh darn pretty. Isn't he a horrible person for choosing a spouse based on looks alone? Well, actually, he's got one imporant thing on his side. It's just basic human instinct - even without a formal education, the dark recesses of our brain have a loose understanding of how genes work. If you don't want to have potato-shaped children, you don't choose a potato-shaped mate. Your body doesn't steer you towards attractive, symmetrical people for no reason; even if you don't consciously want strong, plentiful children, you can bet that your loins do. Gaston has doubtlessly been raised to believe that wives are supposed to be decorative offspring factories, not best friends or companions. Besides, beauty is a famously subjective trait - Gaston is coveted by a set of gorgeous blonde triplets who would murder a flock of ducklings just for the chance to comb his chest hair for him, yet in his eyes, no one is more beautiful to him than the arguably-less-conventionally-attractive-Belle. Doesn't everyone think the object of their affection is the most attractive human being around?

And just look how symmetrical she is.

Besides, if you're going to throw stones at Gaston for over-valuing Belle's beauty, you'd better bring enough for the entire village. Why? Belle has no friends in the village, claims over and over that she doesn't fit in, and runs around singing about how they're all boring peasant cogs in the French provincial system. And yet, the entire village trips over themselves to talk to her and about her. They can't seem to shut up about her, even though she's done exactly nothing remarkable. And through it all, the villagers make it perfectly clear that the only reason they're putting up with her anti-social, book-reading bullshit is because she gives them something pretty to look at.

Something seriously lacking in this town.

While we're on the topic of Belle, Gaston makes his opinion of her hobbies known right from the start of the movie. Women shouldn't read or think, he says. How could he possibly justify something so outrageously misogynistic? Again, it comes down to sweet, sweet, wife-beating history. Up until the women's suffrage movement of the early 20th century, real, actual medical doctors with real, actual credentials believed that women didn't have enough blood to power their brains and their reproductive systems at the same time. If a woman was foolish enough to go to university or hold public office, it was believed that woman's womb would be so terribly deprived of blood that she would actually become sterile. So when Gaston tells her she shouldn't be doing any pesky thinking, he's not inflicting his own personal brand of sexism on her; he's concerned about her actual physical health.

Get down from there before you sprain your uterus.

He's just like the Beast.

When my small, mushy, 5-year-old brain first took in this movie, I thought that Gaston and the Beast couldn't be more different. Gaston was a bully with a mean streak; the Beast was eccentric and misunderstood. But after re-watching the film with my 21-year-old mature brain that still very much enjoys Disney movies, I gradually realized one very important thing that should completely exonerate Gaston from 'villain' status. Are you ready for it?

Gaston and the Beast are almost exactly the same person.

Let's start from the beginning. Gaston chooses Belle to be his own personal baby factory because she looks nice and she won't produce children with weird eyes and crooked teeth. Yes, by today's standards, that makes him kind of an asshole. But what about the Beast? He doesn't set his sights on her for her vivacious personality and delightful conversation. He just needs a girl to break the curse. Any girl will do. His requirements begin and end with a functional vagina. She could be three hundred pounds and covered in a delightful smattering of multicoloured pustules, but so long as he can force himself to fall in love with her, it's all good. Lumiere and Cogsworth literally refer to her as "the girl" right up to the end of the movie. The Beast can't claim moral superiority over Gaston here - she's little more than a trophy to either of these men. Who knows - if Gaston had saved her from those wolves and had his own subsequent bonding moment montage, maybe Belle would have grown to love him instead.

As if she could ever compete with the love he has for himself.

Of course, Gaston has a much darker side than his normal bravado might lead you to believe. In his most heinous act in the entire movie, he blackmails Belle into marriage by having her father, Maurice, committed to the insane asylum. If you keep in mind that this is a hellish, 18th-century approximation of an insane asylum, Gaston's actions are downright chilling. It's hard to believe that anyone other than a villain would employ such tactics. Oh, but hang on, imprisoning Maurice to gain leverage over Belle sounds awfully familiar. Where else have I seen that used?

Hint: This scene does not take place at Gaston's house.

Oh, yes. The Beast does literally the exact same thing. She trades her father's freedom in exchange for a promise to never, ever leave the Beast, which is essentially the Cliff's Notes of any wedding vow. When she's permitted to leave the castle to save her father from freezing to death in the snow, that's supposed to be a huge allowance on the Beast's part. But it's not all bad for Belle. I mean, the Beast has a sprawling, impractically gigantic library! How could a person who owns so many books not be a perfect match for Belle? There's just one little problem - those books clearly came with the castle, because the Beast is every bit as illiterate as Gaston.

Some of you might recognize this as the scene where Belle quite literally teaches him to sound out the word "two".

In fact, throughout the entire movie, Gaston is perpetually just one little script edit away from actually becoming the hero of the story. If he had been put under an ugly spell as a child instead of Prince Adam, this would be a heartwarming story about Belle falling in love with a simple villager instead of an arrogant prince, and no one's character would have to be any different in the slightest. If Gaston had believed Maurice's claim that Belle had been captured by a horrible beast, he could have easily realized that he truly loved her and rescued her from the Beast's clutches before she was neck-deep in Stockholm Syndrome - Disney has sold us on far less believable changes of heart before. 

And we know Disney has no problem with the 'pretty girl chooses handsome guy after all' ending.

Even the final scenes didn't have to turn out as they did. Again, any quasi-talented, mostly-sober scriptwriter could find a dozen different ways to turn handsome, confident Gaston into a Disney prince instead of Prince Adam. If the timing of the final battle was off by even five minutes, remember, the Beast would have remained a Beast forever. Perhaps Gaston could have had a change of heart upon seeing that the beast wasn't such a monster after all, and the Beast could have stepped aside, refusing to let Belle spend her entire life with a twelve-foot-tall lion/buffalo hybrid. Even if the original "Belle ends up with Disney's first redheaded prince" ending is preserved, there's no real reason for Gaston's story to end the way it does. The Beast proved he was a better man by sparing Gaston's life. Any reasonable fictional character would take that as a sign that it's time to quietly slink away and re-think every terrible choice he's ever made. Having Gaston subsequently stab the Beast and get flung off the roof for his efforts only works because Disney wanted a more dramatic ending, and Disney fans demand that every little transgression is punished by death.

The children demand blood. 

Gaston may be an uneducated, selfish, egotistical buffoon, but he's a far cry from the cold-blooded sociopathy of his fellow Disney villains Queen Grimhilde, Maleficent and Jafar. You want to know who the real evil is in Beauty and the Beast? How about the Enchantress, who sentences dozens of innocent people to live as sentient housewares for no other reason than they were unfortunate enough to work for a prince who's kind of an ass. 

That was not a nice thing to do.

How do you feel about Gaston? Are you convinced that he's just an idiot in the wrong place at the wrong time, or do you still think he's earned a spot among Disney's most dastardly villains? Sound off in the comments.

* In case you somehow missed it during your childhood viewings of 'Beauty and the Beast', Gaston's confusion about the lack of pictures and insistence on holding the book vertically are meant to imply that he's used to looking at old-fashioned pornographic magazines. Take that, childhood innocence.


  1. Wow you must've spent a lot of time on this! I'm sure every villian has their back story, this is a really good perspective!

    1. This was definitely one of my most time-consuming blog posts, for sure. Thanks so much, I'm glad you liked it!

    2. i also think, that every villian has a back story, thats why i realy like the musical "twisted - the untold story of a royal vizier", it's exactly about things like that, (look for it on youtube, it's realy funny :D

    3. Thanks for the link! I LOVED Very Potter Musical, this looks just as good. I grew up reading "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs" by John Scieszka, maybe that gave me a lifelong sympathy for villains?

  2. I enjoyed reading this blog post so much!
    I can't wait to read more of your posts

    1. Thanks so much! So glad you enjoyed it! I think I have a few other Disney ones waiting in the wings...

  3. I always thought the enchantress was a b with an itch.

    1. Lay the hell off of her! She did what she chose to do. I mean, didn't you see that the prince was a tyrant?

    2. He was 11 years old....
      "Which would bloom until his 21st year"
      "For 10 years, we've been rusting"
      -Be Our Guest
      21-10=11. He was a spoiled rotten 11 year old boy. Not really a tyrant, but a little brat to be sure

  4. Gaston really is an idiot who deserves to be hated for being biased towards those who are different from him. How the hell can you love him?! First, you pointed out his flaws. Next, you claim that they're not his fault because of the century that he lived in. Then, you bitch about Belle and call her book reading anti-social bullshit.

    It turns out you're just as prejudiced as that damn jock who has nothin' better to do than to bully everyone who's different from him. If I'm you, I'd leave Belle the hell alone and let her be her own person.

    It sickens me that people like you hate nerds and love jocks. Tell me, are you prejudiced against every nerd there is while suckin' up to every jock there is?

    And for your information, Belle never had Stockholm Syndrome. If she did, she'd willingly be Gaston's slave for the rest of her life.

    What seemed like Stockholm Syndrome was Belle givin' the Beast a chance for redemption. It's true that he treated her badly at first. But later on, he treated her better whereas Gaston never did any of that.

    If you ask me, I sympathize with Belle 'cause I've been mistreated for being different from other people, especially in school, where I was bullied like hell. And because of those incidents, I have no mercy for Gaston and any of his followers, who were too blind to see his true colors.

    As for the Enchantress, she deserved to punish the prince for being mean to her. I mean, wouldn't you do that somebody who's that way to you?

    And hwo is Gaston not evil? You pointed out that he rallied his sheep into a witch hunt. Plus, he refused to be merciful to the Beast even when that former prince showed him mercy. Therefore, I wish that humanoid killed him on purpose.

    Another reason why I wish that the Beast literally dropped Gaston like a hot potato is because I have these problems with forgiveness:

    1. I apologized my pop and some of my classmates. But they refused to forgive me.

    2. I did forgive some of the jerks who picked on me. But they metaphorically stabbed me in the back.

    If you ask me, Gaston's like my dad due to his personality. One example is his chauvinism towards women.

    And my dad was sexist to my mom in that he refused to give her money. Another way that he's chauvinistic to the opposite sex is that he had sex with a girl. Now isn't that disgusting?

    A number of other ways that my old man's like the villain of Disney's Beauty and the Beasts are these:

    1. He made me work for him but never paid so much as a penny.

    2. He bullied me when I unintentionally provoked him.

    3. He abused me when I didn't mean to make him do that.

    4. He made a big over minor mistakes that I made.

    5. He became abusive to other members of my family.

    6. He thinks that he's morally good when he isn't really that much.

    7. He's a total hypocrite.

    8. He forbade from doing anything bad when he did and does bad things himself.

    By the way, do you remember the guy who's known as Bill Gates? I brought up a topic on him because of this rule that he made: Be nice to nerds because you might be working for them one day. And he's right.

    If you picked on nerds before but alter get hired by one or more of them and he, she, or they find out that you bullied them when he, she, or they and you were in school, they might turn the tables on you. What I'm tryin' to say is that nerds and geeks weren't put on Earth to stroke the inflated egos of their enemies.

    But if you insist on being the slave to a macho, nerd-hating, narrow-minded, and self-righteous guy like Gaston, suit yourself. Just don't blame me if you suffer the consequences for makin' that decision.

    1. First of all, this was a post about a Disney movie, not a post about your personal problems with being bullied. Secondly, no one particularly CARES about the fact that you were bullied. Thirdly, both in tone and context you are being incredibly rude to someone simply because you do not agree with their observations. That sounds an awful lot like bullying to me.

      The only thing I really have to say to you at all is that you need to take a deep breath, go buy some big kid panties, and suck it up. It's very likely that you're constantly bullied because you're a whiny little doormat.

    2. Yeah... thank you, Anon, for sticking up for me. I chose not to reply to that particular comment because I don't think the person who wrote it actually read or understood the post, and chose to use my blog as a sounding board for their own personal problems. I think the content of this and other posts of mine clearly spells out that I am not "anti-nerd", or "pro-jock", or any other such juvenile designation. I just don't have the heart to censor my comment section. I figured that by the third or fourth antler joke, most people would figure out that this is a humor blog, but I apparently stand corrected.

      Just in case anyone else is confused... this post is meant to be funny. It's just a handful of clever observations I made about one of my favourite Disney movies. I am not actually suggesting that anyone go out and found the Church of Gaston. Everyone else who has commented on, shared or messaged me about this post seems to be pretty clear on that, but I just want to make sure it's obvious.

    3. 1. at the other Anonymous:

      You, sir or ma'am, (most likely, sir) are a fuckin' hypocrite in these ways:

      A. You told me to suck up being bullied when you couldn't suck up my post that you claimed is bullying.

      B. You claimed that no one cares about me being bullied yet you whined at me for claiming that my post is bullying.

      C. You called me a whiny little doormat when Janel came off as being one herself.

      If you don't like post, then don't fuckin' comment on it. For your information, I was chewing her out the author of this blog for lying about Belle and suggesting that she be Gaston's slave.

      How the hell would you like it if I bully you for real? Woudl yo uwant me to tell you to suck it up?

      FYI, you don't know know me very well. Just because I posted a comment that made me uncomfortable, you just made a false assumption about me. What a judgmental little ass you are.

      Honestly, do you not care about people who have been victimized?! What if anyone who you care gets bullied like hell? Would you allow that to happen?

      If anyone here should put on some big boy pants, it should be you up. So shove your Darwinist crap up your ass.

      2. at Janel:

      What a suck-up you are. As I pointed out earlier, I called that other Anonymous out for callin' me a doormat when you came off as being one.

      Also, I was chewing you out for tellin' lies about Belle, whom I like. If you ask me, I've seen other people lie about belle and support bullies. And I don't approve of those things, especially since bullying has run rampant in this world and many people are supporting it.

      And about this being a humor blog, I don't like it all because many people use humor nowadays as an excuse to antagonize. And that happened to me a lot. So nowadays, I hate funny people.

    4. Jesus Christ you have more problems than an ACT practice test. This is a opinion piece on a DISNEY FILM! Even though the voices in your brain may disagree, Belle is fictional person. She does not require you to defend her honor. Why? BECAUSE SHE ISN'T REAL! All this foolery about bullies, and sucking up to jocks. What are you like, 9? God I sure hope so because if you are older than 12 and are this whiny, and delusional then I'd wager there is a pretty good reason you are picked on. Please go to the school guidance counselor and have them help you work out your apparent deep rooted issues because you are just doing the most for no reason on a blog about fictional characters. I repeat: These "people" aren't real people. Jesus christ in a hammock.

    5. If you don't care that someone was abused, you can go kill yourself.

  5. I'm a huge fan of cracked.com and the whole time I was reading this article, I thought "she sounds just like a cracked writer."

    Have you thought about freelancing for them? You'd get paid and I wouldn't have to look so hard to find your work.

    1. I'm against all who side with Cracked because that website makes fun of many things, especially people who are against satire. One example of why I hate Cracked is its hypocrisy. Here's an example of how it's hypocritical: it bitched about people who are proud to be cynics yet complained about those who hate satire, which is cynical.

      If I'm you, I wouldn't suggest to anyone freelancing for that insensitive website. By doing that, you'd just give it more power and the license to antagonize others.

    2. Hey, first Anon, I actually do write for Cracked! My first article for them is a history-related article, it should be on the site sometime around Halloween!


  6. This doesn't make sense. And why get mad at others for disagreeing with you?

  7. I always kind of liked Gaston. Sure, his actions are pretty villainous from a modern perspective, but it's historically accurate. And that, I think, actually makes Gaston one of the more realistic Disney antagonists. In many, if not all of the older Disney Princess films, the villain was just evil, period. Gaston has actual motivations that can be interpreted beyond the simple "He's a dick, moving on" explanation.


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