Beauty and the Beast's Appeal: A Personal View

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Title: Beauty and the Beast's Appeal: A Personal View
Creator: Steve Nottingham
Date(s): 1993
Medium: print
Fandom: Beauty and the Beast (TV)
Topic:
External Links:
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Beauty and the Beast's Appeal: A Personal View is a 1993 essay by Steve Nottingham.

It was printed in his zine, Flames of Hell.

Some Topics Discussed

  • Beauty and the Beast (TV)
  • exploration about why this show appeals to Nottingham
  • Vincent and Catherine's love transcends sex
  • the author admires Vincent's honesty and emotional vulnerability, and these traits are things that not many male characters on television can express
  • many comments about the appeal of the show to women
  • makes the point that men are not "attracted" to Vincent Wells

From the Essay

There have been a number of articles written by fans and professional writers discussing the popularity and appeal of Beauty and the Beast. In this article, what follows are purely my own reasons for being a fan of the TV show. What exactly is it that makes Beauty and the Beast so special to me? Certainly it isn't the only TV show I'm very enthusiastic about. Being a science fiction/ fantasy fan in general, I love things like Star Trek, Quantum Leap, Alien Nation and the superhero shows of the Seventies.

As much as I like these and other TV shows, I don't have the same degree of affection and passion for them that I do for Beauty and the Beast, and in fact those two words - affection and passion - go a long way toward describing my feelings for the show. None of the TV shows I've mentioned have the emotional power and depth of Beauty and the Beast, as least not as consistently and often as our favourite show. Also, none of these shows have the wonderful romance which is so much a part of Beauty and the Beast.

Although I like all of the many elements which make up the show - the main and supporting characters, the action/adventure, the fantasy elements of the world Below - most of all it's the relationship between Vincent and Catherine which makes the show so special; in short, the love they share.

As all of us would agree, I'm store, there's something very touching and special about Vincent and Catherine's love. Both of them risk so much just to be together at all, and the obstacles and problems they face are numerous.

To many people Above, the couple's love for each other would be considered sick and abnormal in the show's fictional universe. To these narrow-minded individuals, Vincent would be a creature - a thing more animal than human. To them, Catherine's love for Vincent would be baffling and unnatural.

However, to those who know Vincent as a person, his love for Catherine, and hers for him, is anything but unnatural. On the contrary, that love is uplifting and inspiring, and to us fans out here in the so-called 'real' world, that's how we feel about their love for one another. By TV standards especially, Vincent and Catherine's love affair is anything but par-for-the-course. In most would-be romances these days, the main couple go from kissing for the first time to leaping into bed together in a very short time, which certainly isn't the case with Beauty and the Beast; in fact it isn't even until 'Orphans' in the second season that we see Catherine kiss Vincent.

I think this is part of the charm of Vincent and Catherine's love. Although all of us would like to see them consummate their love in full (and more realistically than in the disappointing sequence in 'Though Lovers be Lost') it's also

heartening to know that true love depends on more than just sex.

For many female fans of Beauty and the Beast (and they're many in number!) Vincent is, of course, their main reason for watching the show and becoming a fan in the first place. Thanks to Ron Perlman's powerful acting, his evocative 'Vincent Voice' and his very effective, beastly make-up, he has become the source of many womens' romantic and sexual dreams.

Obviously, as a male B and B fan, Vincent doesn't have this effect on me, but I can well understand how so many ladies do find him so fascinating. In fact, watching the ladies flock around John Picton in his Vincent make-up at conventions is an entertainment in itself!

However, Vincent does appeal to me greatly as a character, and I find much to admire and like in him. For one thing, I've always been interested in empathic characters, and so right away I was fascinated by Vincent and his special bond with Catherine. Probably because I'm a Piscean (one of the most emotional star-signs) I find empathic characters very interesting.

I find it easy to put myself in Vincent's place and imagine what it must be like for him to be able to feel Catherine's emotions. Such a power could be said to be the ultimate expression of love, although there's no doubt that having empathic powers could be as much of a curse as a gift at times, at least in certain situations when the emotions felt aren't pleasant ones.

Another thing which I find very appealing about Vincent is his emotional vulnerability and openness. Although such characteristics aren't uncommon for female TV characters, the same can't be said for many male heroes. The few who come to mind are Scott Bakula (Sam Becket) in Quantum Leap, Eric Pierpoint (George Francisco) and Gary Graham (Matthew Sikes) in Alien Nation, and going back to the Seventies. Bill Bixby (David Banner) in The Incredible Hulk.

However, even these very good actors rarely got to display the full emotional range that Perlman does. In any given episode of Beauty and the Beast, Vincent can go from reading tender love poetry to anguished soul-suffering to primeval, animalistic rage.

Who can forget such memorable scenes as Vincent crying out in heart-breaking pain in 'Ozymandias', his tears of release in 'Arabesque' and his moving eulogy in "Walk Slowly'? Truly the role of Vincent is an actor's dream come true. Perlman's sensitive portrayal of Vincent offers an excellent and positive image to men who have no wish to hide their feelings or pretend to be macho. To these people, among which I count myself, Vincent's honesty and emotional vulnerability are refreshing and admirable.

And not to slight Catherine, I'm happy to be among Linda Hamilton's many fans I've liked Linda ever since I first saw her in the pilot episode of Beauty and the Beast, and her portrayal of Catherine is superb. Catherine symbolises the complete woman; someone who is both emotionally vulnerable and capable of great courage, and at the same time she also has to balance the demands of a difficult career, as many contemporary women do. As lovely as Catherine is though, I have to admit that I relate more to Vincent as a character than Catherine, which perhaps isn't too surprising for a guy anyway!

In addition to all of the other factors contributing to my enjoyment of Beauty and the Beast is the fact that it has spurred and developed my interest in poetry and led me to broaden my own horizons by reading a lot of poetry and even writing some of my own.

Like many of us, my enthusiasm for the show has also led me to write Beauty and the Beast stories of my own (hence this very zine!) and also some adaptations of various episodes for my own enjoyment. Even if it wasn't for all this though, I'd still be very glad that my enthusiasm brought me into Beauty and the Beast fandom, as I've made a number of good friends from going to conventions and corresponding with other fans. And the same applies to so many people, not just here in England but in other countries where B&tB fandom exists.

Moreover, more than one fan-friendship has turned into love and marriage, which is a lovely thing. Any TV show that can bring people together in this way is truly special and magical. Those two words - special and magical - also describe Vincent and Catherine very well. Even if only in our minds and hearts, may their love always endure.

References