How ‘Belle’ portrays future of social media

Walking into the theater knowing close to nothing about “Belle,” I did not have many expectations. However, once the end credits ran, I felt stupefied by the cinematic masterpiece. Following our protagonist, a seemingly insignificant high school outcast, Suzu, through her breathtaking character arc created an intensely powerful narrative.

The relationships between the characters, which are portrayed by music, impact watchers with raw emotion while following the notorious “Beauty and the Beast” trope. Most importantly, Studio Chizu, the studio behind the production of “Belle”, does not shy away from depicting a not-so-distant future within the film.

The digital world known as ‘U’ offers people what they call a second chance. Their aggressive advertising to the world, more specifically teens, states it is not possible to start over in the real world, but ‘U’ gives the ability to become the ideal version of yourself. Through these promising company mottos, the ‘U’ app accumulates over five billion users worldwide. It is easy to pick up on similarities between ‘U’ and present-day social media, not only with advertising but the behavior of the users online as well.

When Bell, Suzu’s persona within ‘U’, first enters the scene and begins to sing for the first time in years, she gains an immediate following of loyal supporters. Many fans are quick to idolize her and lift her to the top of the platform, making her an overnight celebrity. 

Promotional poster for the animated film “Belle.” (Studio Chizu)

Meanwhile, Bell receives thousands of spiteful comments and accusations despite users not knowing she is an ordinary high school girl. Without spoilers, once Bell gives haters what they want in an act of bravery, users still manage to be unsatisfied

The film shares the dangers of social media, as users cheer on actions such as doxxing others. This detail exemplifies why it is important to focus on positivity rather than negative remarks.

Authenticity online is a foreign concept. Studio Chizu highlights this theme through the appeal of ‘U’. In this digital world, everyone is favorable and fragmented depictions of their true self. While this concept may seem foreign in our present-day society, the phenomenon of lost authenticity is occurring. Today, both celebrities and casual users put their best persona forward when it comes to sharing their life online through means of photo editing or dramatization.

This film is stunning, with impactful details that paint a meaningful picture. Minute details such as the intricacy of each of the backgrounds in the real world compared to the characters is an interesting nod at Suzu’s emotions. In the real world, Suzu feels unimportant, and so she is flat compared to the highly realistic backgrounds. In ‘U’, Suzu has all eyes on her, so she becomes the focal point of the scene. Her avatar is intricate when she is Bell because she feels important.

This awe-inspiring film brings crucially relevant themes to the table, which is what makes “Belle” unique and impressive to watch.