Mob Mentality

I’ve been listening to a lot of Disney music lately because it generally makes me happy and produces that feel-good fuzzy feeling, and Lord knows in today’s climate some warm fuzzies are much-needed.  The Beauty and the Beast soundtrack comes up often (because it’s awesome), but one song in particular is resonating with me lately:  The Mob Song.  It’s such a prime example of how people can be so easily incited to anger and violence.

But Shannon, that’s a Disney movie. It’s a work of fiction, not real life.

Is it?  I mean, of course it is on many levels. But the greatest thing about fiction is that it gives us parables and analogies to real life.  Some of the greatest lessons can be taught through fiction.  And the lesson we learn here is not to be fooled into being led so easily.

Let’s take a look.

We start off knowing that Belle has rushed back to her father’s side because she has seen that he is not doing well.  The Beast lets her go, despite their original contract that says she must stay, because he has developed tender feelings for her.  In fact, he is thrown into despair when she leaves as she has taken his heart with her.  As viewers we know that there is nothing actually wrong with the beast. (Yes, I’m well aware of the argument that Belle is basically experiencing Stockholm syndrome. Let’s leave that one at the door and argue it later, shall we? That’s not what this post is about.)

In comes Gaston, a man whose pride has been severely injured by Belle’s previous rejection, who has insisted that the Beast is something dangerous, something to fear.

The beast will make off with your children
He’ll come after them in the night
We’re not safe ’till his head is mounted on my wall
I say we kill the beast!

With just these few words the crowd begins to mumble, adding their own opinions of a situation they know nothing of except for what Gaston, their trusted leader, has told them.  They all begin to chime in one after another:

We’re not safe until he’s dead
He’ll come stalking us at night
Set to sacrifice our children to his monstrous appetite
He’ll wreak havoc on our village if we let him wander free

Getting what he wanted, Gaston calls them to action and asks them to follow as he begins to describe to them how exciting it’s going to be to go after the ‘bad guy’.  He describes the beast in great detail, having only seen him through the mirror just like most of the rest of the crowd.  This thing is something to fear.

Through the mist, through the woods
Through the darkness and the shadows
It’s a nightmare but it one exciting ride
Say a prayer, then we’re there
At the drawbridge of a castle
And there’s something truly terrible inside
It’s a beast, he’s got fangs razor sharp ones
Massive paws, killer claws for the feast
Hear him roar, see him foam
But we’re not coming home
‘Till he’s dead, good and dead
kill the beast
 Belle begins to beg Gaston to stop and tries to get the crowd to understand, but the only response is one typical of such situations – “If you’re not with us, you’re against us,” he says.  They lock her and her father up so that they can’t come stop them or spout their ‘craziness’ where others don’t want to hear it.  And as a group they go to kill that which they do not understand.
Light your torch! Mount your horse!
Screw your courage to the sticking place!
We’re counting on Gaston to lead the way!
Through a mist, through a wood
Where within a haunted castle
Something’s lurking that you don’t see every day!
It’s a beast! One as tall as a mountain
We won’t rest ’til he’s good and deceased
Sally forth! Tally ho!
Grab your sword! Grab your bow!
Praise the Lord and here we go!
 And perhaps the most poignant of all, the following lyrics come into play:
We don’t like
What we don’t understand
In fact it scares us
And this monster is mysterious at least
Bring your guns!
Bring your knives!
Save your children and your wives
We’ll save our village and our lives
We’ll kill the Beast!
 They arrive at the castle where Gaston tells the people to leave the Beast to him.  His personal grudge and vendetta has brought him here, brought everyone there, and he will see it out to the end.  These people have no idea they’re there for a personal grudge, they have been rallied because of fear and fear alone.  Fear of the unknown, stoked by lies and jealousy.
When I view certain things that have happened in the past, and look at certain events going on around us now, through the lens of the lyrics of this song…frankly, it’s alarming.  Some cases that immediately come to mind: the KKK, the transgender bathroom issues, reactions to Muslims.
All fun and animation aside, the mob mentality is real and we should all be very careful to critically think about the things we’re being told.  Do not let fear guide you.
**
Lyrics taken directly from the Mob Song on the Beauty and the Beast original animated soundtrack, 1991.  Credits for the Mob song as according to IMDB:
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman
Performed by Richard White and Chorus
Produced by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken
Arranged by Alan Menken and Danny Troob
Orchestrated by Danny Troob
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3 thoughts on “Mob Mentality

  1. and Trump too. Very well said, fear is a sickness that spreads like wildfire. And mob mentality is real. Personally, I do not watch the news nor follow any political party, it upsets me. I stopped watching the news several years ago and I feel so much better. It’s easy to get caught in the wave of fear and hate. I choose tolerance, acceptance and love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. I have felt that this time it is more important to stay in touch with what’s going on, but I have definitely needed to “detox” and practice a lot of self care.

      Like

  2. Really liked this post, I particularly liked how you didn’t go into much political analysis of mob-mentality but rather left it open for people to decide. Both sides are guilty to an extent of mob-mentality, but now politics seems very tribal with groups like antifa and the alt-right going to battle at Berkeley two days ago over free speech, of all things .. It’s very dangerous.

    We’re not safe until he’s dead
    He’ll come stalking us at night
    Set to sacrifice our children to his monstrous appetite
    He’ll wreak havoc on our village if we let him wander free

    There’s one extremist ideology that embodies this quote: Antifa. Do the research, but they promote, in a q&a pamphlet I picked up at my school the de-platforming of fascists and using any means necessary – including violence – to take them down.
    That doesn’t seem so haunting, right? True fascists should be stopped by any means necessary, of course. Well… As soon as that thought enters your mind, another one enters.

    Wait a minute, who are the fascists they are talking about?

    … then their message becomes haunting and dangerous

    Like

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