I went as Gaston for my Halloween costume this year. It probably says something about me that this got me thinking a lot about Gaston and where he went wrong in Beauty And The Beast.
Gaston had a pretty good thing going. It was established in song that he’s the best looking man in town. He’s young, tall, strong, and excels in most things he puts his hands to. He can provide a good standard of living, he commands the respect and admiration of those in town, and even successfully organizes them to march on an absentee landlord who’s turned to monsterism. He’s fairly well off, and he can sing. His only downside is that he’s a bit of an arrogant prat, but he’ll probably grow out of that, and that’s often considered attractive if it can be backed up with social status and charm – see Tony Stark. The only reason the viewer dislikes him is because they are supposed to – he’s mocked for being illiterate, which is low-status for the audience, but is simply how 95%+ of the population lived in his time period.
But in the end he becomes a villain – victimizing an old man so he can force his daughter into an unwanted relationship. Why? Because he can’t accept that not everyone loves him.
OK, Gaston, we get it – you’re awesome. But sometimes people just don’t click. When you make a move on someone and you’re rebuffed several times, you really gotta just shrug and move on. There doesn’t have to be any good reason for it. Maybe she’s into Furries. Maybe she just doesn’t like white guys. Whatever, let it go. Gaston had been told he is the most desirable so many times that he couldn’t accept it when someone didn’t have any interest in him. And that led to an escalation of mistakes that eventually led to his death.
It may have been a bit harder in his location, to be fair. In a village of a few hundred people, there may only be one optimal reproductive mate. And being rebuked like that after publicly stating your intentions can lead to a dangerous loss of status among the villagers. But seriously, they sang him a song to cheer him up and reassure him, and he had these girls as a fall-back option:
Sure, they’re blonde, but they’re still pretty damn good looking and probably very nice people. He could’ve had his pick, and probably had all three at once a number of times. People nowadays have even less of an excuse than Gaston – they take almost no social hit for rejection, and the pool of available partners is damn near inexhaustible.
So take a lesson from Gaston: Don’t be evil – move on.