Invisible Men Controlled by Women:
The 2011 movie Beastly is a contemporary retelling of the classic fairytale “The Beauty and the Beast”. It is about a vein and arrogant young man, that is turned into hideous-looking creature by a witch, with a spell that can only be undone if he gets someone to love him within a defined period of time. Due to the fact that fairy tales are some of the first encounters that children have with fictional stories, many theorists suggest that these strongly influence the way people in which perceive the world at the beginning of their life, and, unless it is changed, afterwards. Because of the canonic structure of fairy tales, the conception of gender that they hold usually dates back to the Middle Ages. As such, the conception of men in the movie Beastly is that what matters is invisible, that women are essentially in charge of their lives, and that they can only be beautiful though the love of a woman.
One of the main morals of “The Beauty and the Beast” is that what is important is the kind of person one is, and not how one looks. The transformation that the witch, Kendra Hilferty, puts Kyle Kingson through is physical: mainly tattoos, scars and bone structure deformation; in this version, he is doesn’t grow hair like in many others, losing the potential puberty symbolism. This doesn’t allow Kyle to use his looks to make someone attracted to him, and, thus, has to change his personality in the process, going from vein and arrogant to compassionate and thoughtful. Thus, the story teaches that, for men, what is important is not what is on the outside, which contrasts with the denomination of the woman character as “Beauty” in the title.
Another characteristic of the conception of what is a man that is reflected in the movie is that women decide their fate. The whole story centers around two main points: Hilferty’s transformation of Kyle, and the subsequent need for a woman to love him, who ends up being Lindy Taylor. Both of these events are essential to the story and determine it. In a way, one would think that Kyle is a puppet, whose strings are being pulled by both of these women. The other three important male characters: Will, Rob Kingson and Lindy’s father are blind, arrogant and a drug addict, respectively. As one can see, this is not the case of men being potent and brave; instead, the concept of man is that he is flawed, looking more towards the sensitivity that they may have, than to their physical and psychological strength.
The subservience of man to woman that is present in the movie also extends to matters of beauty: man can only be beautiful through a woman, and especially through her love. It is through women that Kyle advances: he is set on his path of self-actualization by Hilferty and becomes beautiful again because Taylor loves him. Not only is the fate of men, weak by nature, decided by women, but they are also the ones that make a man valuable.
In conclusion, the 2011 movie Beastly depicts men whose looks don’t matter, whose destiny is decided by women, and who are valuable only through women, especially through their love. If one believes those researchers who theorize that fairy tales help us create our self image and our world-view, then it is important to know what contemporary versions of classic fairy tales are presenting to children. Men may grow up having this concept of themselves, if they identify with this gender, and people as a whole may have that concept of what a man should be. This also could skew the perception of a particular man, even when he doesn’t have those characteristics.