Does the Mob Song from Beauty and the Beast prove that Gaston is the best Disney villain?

The wheels in my head have been turning... A dangerous pastime? Probably.

All I can say is that it is about time. Finally the trailer for the live action remake of the Beauty and the Beast is here. Bar none, Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite Disney movie, and I’m not a guy afraid to admit it. Even from just a storytelling perspective with its themes about love, sacrifice, and hope, it is far superior to just about every other Disney offering out there. The character of the Beast delighted me every since I was a kid, and Belle was always my favorite heroine, possibly because she shares my love of books.

But of course, one of the greatest things about Beauty and the Beast is the handsome and charismatic hunter, Gaston.

Gaston never gets much love as a Disney villain. The Top 10 lists of the greats Disney villains always have Gaston somewhere in the middle, but never as the number one baddie. Everyone always seems to go for Scar, Maleficent, or Jafar, but those villains never scared me in the way that Gaston did.

Gaston mixes awe with ruthlesness. We respect him and fear him at the same time.

It didn’t strike me until just recently when I re-listened to the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack why Gaston is one of the best villains in the Disney canon. The answer as to why he’s the best villain might surprise you. It’s not because he’s the cruelest villain, or even the most evil. It’s simply because out of any Disney villain, Gaston is simply the best leader. That might sound like a boring answer, but a good and effective leader is never boring. And the thing about leadership is that it can lead to the best of things or the worst of things.

If I were to ask you who you think the world’s greatest villain in history has been, I would have to think that pretty much anyone would answer Hitler. I think we can all agree that Hitler is probably the worst and possibly the most evil person that has ever lived on the face of the earth, and yet, Hitler didn’t personally commit the atrocities that we blame him for. He led others to do those things for him. Thus we see that true evil isn’t always about getting your hands dirty, it’s about being able to persuade others to do the dirty work for you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an evil leader or a righteous one, the principles of leadership are still basically the same. There are numerous qualities that make a leader effective. A leader inspires, is creative, is committed, has confidence, communicates, delegates, etc… But let me say this, the best leaders I have seen in my life inspire awe. They inspire us to be better and to do things that we wouldn’t ordinarily do, but maybe that we want to do.

There are a few lines in the Mob Song in the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack that highlight what makes Gaston a perfect leader and why that makes him terrifying.

Man 1 
We’re not safe until he’s dead

Man 2 
He’ll come stalking us at night

Set to sacrifice our children 
To his monstrous appetite

Man 3 
He’ll wreak havoc on our village 
If we let him wander free

Here’s the good part…

So it’s time to take some action boys 
It’s time to follow me!

See! Right there Gaston mixes a call to action with the command to follow him. He doesn’t ask to be followed, he demands it. But he doesn’t demand it until after he’s whetted our appetites for some action. If my boss at work started each day with the words, “It’s time to take some action boys!” you better believe I would be willing to do just about anything for him.

Through the mist, through the woods 
Through the darkness and the shadows 
It’s a nightmare, but it’s one exciting ride

Here is another perfect example of what makes Gaston so enthralling. He lays out in poetic terms that what his followers are about to experience isn’t going to be any sort of picnic, but he uses this to his advantage. Instead of focusing on the battle ahead, he says, It’s a nightmare, but it’s one exciting ride. It’s dangerous, yes, but it’s also exciting! This is what true leaders do. They find excitement in the mission ahead and manage to relay that to their subordinates.

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!

Here Gaston draws the line in the sand. If you decide to follow him, you’re not coming home until you’re dead or the Beast is. Obviously the story is told from Belle’s point of view, so when you’re watching the movie you’re thinking that everything that Gaston is doing is just horrible, but in a real-life situation, I think I would be right there getting ready to invade a cursed castle. And that’s the scariest thing about Gaston.

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