The Snow White Scandal: Has Disney ruined its iconic movie?
Once upon a time, a lost girl wandering through the woods stumbled into a house owned by…seven diverse magical creatures? Although it is not yet released, the upcoming 2024 live-action "Snow White" film has already been the target of backlash and controversy. Fans are criticizing the film for changes made to the 1937 animation storyline, the casting of a Latina actress, and comments that have been made by the cast about the original cartoon.
In September at the Disney Fan Club's D23 Expo, an excerpt from an interview by Variety with the main actress went viral on social media. "I just mean that it’s no longer 1937,” Rachel Zegler, who will be playing Snow White, stated. “We absolutely wrote a ‘Snow White’ that... she’s not going to be saved by the prince, and she’s not going to be dreaming about true love; she’s going to be dreaming about becoming the leader she knows she can be and that her late father told her that she could be…" In another interview with Extra TV at the D23 Expo, Rachel called the prince "a guy who literally stalks her.” She claimed that part of the story was “weird” and that they hadn't done that this time around. The actress also said "I'm sure a lot of people will assume it is a love story just because we cast a guy in the movie," but that "it's really not about the love story at all, which is really, really wonderful." She went on to joke that it was Hollywood, and the scenes including the prince “could get cut."
Many fans did not like these comments and said that, despite the film attempting to be modern and feminist, it was doing the complete opposite. TikTok user @CosyWithAngie stated "criticizing Disney princesses is not feminist. Not every woman is a leader. Not every woman wants to be a leader. Not every woman wants or craves power. And that’s OK". Essentially, people argued that shaming the original character for dreaming about true love rather than things such as being a leader was the same as shaming women who had more traditional aspirations for their lives. Others, however, had an opposing opinion, such as @waitforme_II, who posted on X: "the rachel zegler hate is genuinely some of the stupidest s*** i've seen on this app, she made one comment about how snow white has ambitions of her own that has nothing to do with romance, and suddenly everyone decided that women being damsels in distress is feminist, actually."
Further controversy sparked when Zegler revealed in a September interview with Entertainment Weekly , that she had only watched "Snow White" once as a child, since after she saw the movie, the actress went on a ride titled "Snow White's Scary Adventures" at Disney World. “I think I watched it once and never picked it up again. I’m being so serious,” Zegler commented. Some fans took this as a lack of appreciation for the iconic role. However, during an appearance on Variety's Actors on Actors series with actor Andrew Garfield in January 2022, Zegler explained that she'd never imagined this would be an opportunity for her, seeing as Snow Whites of Latin descent are uncommon despite the popularity of the film in Latin countries. According to her, she hopes to change people's perspectives on who is or isn't allowed to play certain roles. She spoke on the backlash received on the internet after the announcement of her casting and finalized the interview stating: "At the end of the day, I have a job to do that I'm really excited to do. I get to be a Latina princess."
Aside from the arguments against the princess itself, other aspects of the movie have been negatively judged as well --particularly the changes made to the famous seven companions of Snow White. After seeing announcements about Disney's newly-casted Latina princess, Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage criticized their "hypocritical wokeness"."It makes no sense to me," he said during the "WTF" podcast hosted by comedian Marc Maron. "Because you’re progressive in one way, but you’re still making that f****** backward story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together. Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soapbox? I guess I’m not loud enough." The same day after his criticism of reinforcing these old stereotypes that were still placed on little people (LP), Disney announced they were conversing with people who have dwarfism. The next day, they made another announcement, revealing that they would be changing the original seven dwarfs to seven magical creatures that would be created with CGI. However, this decision also faced backlash, with LP claiming that Peter Dinklage should not speak for the entire community.
Among those is Terra Jolé, who produced and starred in "Little Women: LA". "It boggles my mind that a network, instead of listening to an entire community, [is] listening to one person,” she commented. “That’s just how much pull this one person has created in this society because of where he is on the level of popularity.” She stated that not everybody in the little people community agreed with him and that people in her family had auditioned for the movie. She claimed that it was not right for Disney to make Peter the sole spokesperson for the community and that if LP didn't want to audition for and support roles they believed to be stereotypical, they should not, but that they also should not speak out about it as if they were monopolizing the community’s opinions.
David Hand, the son of one of the creators of the original movie, also expressed his own thoughts about the remake in an interview with The Telegraph, going as far as calling it a "disgrace". “It’s a whole different concept and I just totally disagree with it, and I know my dad and Walt would also very much disagree with it,” the 91-year-old man said. "They’re making up new woke things and I’m just not into any of that. I find it quite frankly a bit insulting [what] they may have done with some of these classic films. There’s no respect for what Disney did and what my dad did. … I think Walt and he would be turning in their graves.”
It's safe to say that the remake of this iconic movie is one that has stirred up quite a lot of controversy, and brought bigger issues to mind. Disney's changes to Snow White's ethnic background, romantic relationship, aspirations, and companions, have caused people to question topics such as feminism and the diversification of media, but its fate is still up in the air. Will the upcoming "Snow White" be a hit, or will it fail -- as some people are convinced it is destined to?