Disney’s Original ‘Beauty And The Beast’ Was a Metaphor For AIDS

With the new buzz about the reboot of Beauty and The Beast, people are once again talking about this unforgettable 90s film. Most Disney movies seem innocent and void of all the horrible things in the world, and this is why many people enjoy Disney; they make it seem like everything has a happy ending. Well, if you dig deeper into the meaning of Beauty of The Beast, it has a much deeper meaning. In fact, the original Beauty of The Beast of 1991 was actually a metaphor for AIDS. Yes, AIDS. 

During the time of Beauty of The Beast, AIDS was killing many people at an alarming rate, including gay men. In an interview with Attitude Magazine, Bill Condon, the director of the 2017 remake, explained how the animated feature’s lyricist, Howard Ashman (who had AIDS), saw himself reflected in the film. “Ashman had just found out he had AIDS, and it was his idea, not only to make it into a musical but also to make Beast one of the two central characters,” Condon said. “Until then it had mostly been Belle’s story that they had been telling,” said Condon. “Specifically for him, it was a metaphor for AIDS,” he continued. “He was cursed and this curse had brought sorrow on all those people who loved him and maybe there was a chance for a miracle and a way for the curse to be lifted. It was a very concrete thing that he was doing.”

Sadly, Ashman died on March 14, 1991 before he could see his creation come to life. Previously Ashman worked on Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King. He worked on the lyrics for Beauty and The Beast at home as his health continued to get worse due to AIDS. Ashman wrote the song “Kill The Beast” to express his feelings around fighting  AIDS and the stigma surrounding it.

Sadly, HIV/AIDS is not a thing of the past. You can still contract it either through sex or birth. During the 80s and 90s, it was an epidemic killing thousands of people in such a short period of time. People were losing friends and family. It rocked the LGBT+ community the worst since it’s largely transmitted through anal sex. At the time, there was no medicine to control it. Luckily, nowadays people can live long lives with HIV. It’s always best to protect yourself just to be safe.

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Evelyn V. Woodsen
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Evelyn Atieno is a sometimes journalist who enjoys binge watching Gossip Girl every other month. She has been featured in MTV,Business Insider, Huffington Post and The Baltimore Sun

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