Belle is pretty much the most useless character ever.
Seriously, it's like she's just there to help Rumpelstiltskin change and grow as a character without doing any changing or growing herself. One of the reasons I loved this show is that it took characters like Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood and made them kick-ass heroines who still had a heart. They still worried about loved ones/fought for "true love"/did the right thing BUT THEY HAD BRAINS.
And they used these brains quite often.
Well, minus the time Snow let herself get poisoned by King Charles Widmore (thanks, EW, for the awesome moniker).
But still. They are smart, wonderful heroines for young girls to look up to.
And then Belle comes along.
I was so, so, so excited to have Belle on the show. Sure, in the original story, Belle and her Dad have a semi-creepy relationship, and the whole reason she ends up in captivity in the first place - her Dad taking a rose from the Beast's garden - can also be interpreted as her, ahem, literal deflowering. There's also the abusive relationship disguised as a "girls, you can fix any guy if you try your best" message, but that's not what I'm going to focus on today, 'cause it's an entirely different blog post.
Since Disney is ultimately at the helm of this show, I'm going to defer to the Belle from the movie where a talking clock and candlestick sing "Be Our Guest." I'll wait for you to get that song out of your head before I continue. Sorry.
Is it gone yet?
So, in the movie, Belle's goal is to go out adventuring - to forge her own path, choose her own life, and not be Gaston's "little wife." Oh, and BELLE LOVES TO READ.
This is what made her my favorite Disney Princess (before Mulan came around, of course. My love for Mulan is another blog post). She loved to read. She had a mind of her own. She was smart.
Again, we're skipping over the abusive "You can't do anything unless I tell you to" relationship.
So, somewhere along the way in "Once Upon a Time" that Belle got lost in translation. She turned into someone who says ALL THE WRONG things because she can't read social cues (hint: if your Dad kidnaps you and tells you that you NEED TO SAY YOU DONT LOVE RUMPELSTILTSKIN that is not the opportune moment to start talking about living your own life and go all "You can't tell me what to do!" on him). Save it for after he lets you go. Seriously.
And this Belle can't do a thing for herself. When she's about to get her mind wiped on the worst cave-cart ride in a mine ever, what does she do? SHE LOSES THE KEY TO HER EFFING HANDCUFFS, SO SHE CANT FREE HERSELF. She has to rely on Rumpelstiltskin to magic his way in and save the freaking day.
Oh, and then when she FINALLY decides to do something with her life and re-open the town library, how does she find the key?!?
RUMPELSTILTSKIN GIVES IT TO HER.
I know this was probably a call-back to the Disney movie. But still.
There's something wrong with this picture.
Don't get me wrong, I grew up on Disney movies, and I love them. And I will continue to watch "Once Upon a Time," even though I'm mad at it.
But let's just think about the messages being portrayed to young girls.
Whenever you need help, you won't be able to help yourself.
Yeah, you may be mad at the guy who lied to you, but if you stick around long enough, he'll give you something awesome like a library.
And, once that gift has been accepted, you'll decide that he is a good project to work on. That you can change him.
You know, instead of working on yourself.
That's the only thing I'm asking for, "Once" writers - please, please, please give Belle some room to grow. She needs to start having her own thoughts - thoughts that don't always revolve around "saving/changing" Rumpelstiltskin. She needs to become her own person. Make her own choices.
You know, USE HER BRAIN.
There was a moment in the episode where Red Riding Hood asked Belle what she liked to do. And I held my breath, ready to yell at the TV, because you know what I thought her answer was going to be?
Instead, she said she liked books. And I sighed out of relief. But you know what? I only thought that because so far ALL her character has done is worry about/try to change Rumpelstiltskin while cleaning his house/mansion/castle thing. I seriously thought all she liked to do was clean, because that's all the writer's have made her care about.
And that is a problem.
So, to wrap up the rant, I hope my mind can get changed about this Belle. I hope she does grow into her own person and that, yes, maybe she can grow with Rumpelstiltskin.
But she shouldn't just exist as an accessory to his change. She also doesn't need to become a kick-ass fighter or anything like that.
She just needs to become a kick-ass person - which she can only do by becoming her own person.
Please, Powers That Be, make that happen.