Being a fan of the Disney villains, I didn't see Gaston as a strong villain. Actually, I didn't see him as a villain at all. He was a ladies man, but that was it. He wasn't fighting the Beast over Belle's affections for the entire film, he was trying to rescue her. Not a villain. A pompus a$$, but not a villain.
I was listening to a radio show a month or so ago and a comedian was telling a story about a discussion he and another comedian were having about the Wizard of Oz, and who the villain in the story was. His friend was saying that it was not the Wicked Witch... she was just trying to get back something that belonged to her family but was stolen by an out-of-towner. He argued that it was the Wizard who was the villain, because he was using people as pawns to knock off a rival. Now, I have no idea if any of this was covered in those silly Wicked books. I saw the play once, and fell asleep during that dreadful play. Please don't tell me that I'm a guy and I'm not supposed to like Wicked, because my wife fell asleep, too. But anyway, Gaston? Not a villain.
I enjoyed Tarzan, and also felt that Brian Blessed did a great job with Clayton. Plus, he's one of the few villains that Disney doesn't use, and so has not run into the ground (a la Cruella, Malificient, Hook, and Ursula).
I'm right there with you on Princess and the Frog. They realized they were missing a demographic by not having a black princess in their mix yet, so rather than isolate children, they attempted to pull them into the fold. But yes, it was absolutley black for black's sake. You didn't need to be in that pitch meeting to know how that discussion went at Disney:
Pitchman: "I feel it's time that we add an African-American princess."
Exec: "OK. How do you propose we do that?"
Pitchman: "We take an random fairy tale, say, Princess & the Frog. Only we give the frog a crazy pointless accent that is sure to drive audiences out the door."
Exec: "I'm with you so far. Where does this one take place?'
Pitchman: "Right here in the US. Remember Katrina?"
Exec: "I don't think there are any princesses in Louisiana. And, this is the US. There isn't royalty anywhere, period."
Pitchman: "But if it doesn't take place in New Orleans, how can her family run a creol restaurant? And what about this crazy fat crocodile character I created? Look, he has a tiny cute little jazz trumpet!"
Exec: "You're fired."