The decade's most triggering comedy
Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the wokest of them all?
Anyone who’s been paying attention to the entertainment industry over the past few years could have guessed that Disney’s latest live-action adaptation of a classic film was going to thrust modern elements into a timeless fairy tale. Disney keeps using this strategy for all their remakes despite the backlash.
“Peter Pan & Wendy” (2023) mixed girls into the Lost Boys. “The Little Mermaid” (2023) writers updated the lyrics to “Kiss the Girl” lest they be accused of Prince Eric failing to get consent for physical contact. The director for “Beauty and the Beast” (2017) famously bragged about including an “exclusively gay moment.”
All the women in these remakes also get stronger, more feminist-approved backstories. In “Aladdin” (2019), Jasmine gets a much bigger backstory and a desire to run the city, not just escape it. “Beauty and the Beast” depicts Belle as an inventor just like her father.
But no film is catching so much heat before making it into theaters as the new “Snow White.” More than six months prior to its scheduled release, this live-action adaptation of the 1937 animated musical is getting a lot of bad press due mostly to comments made by the actress cast in the lead role, Rachel Zegler.
Like so many other Disney films, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is based on a Brothers Grimm fairytale. Zegler, who is of Colombian and Polish descent, responded to fans on social media who were questioning her being cast in the film despite the original Snow White being described as having skin, “white as snow.”
“You don’t normally see Snow Whites that are of Latin descent, even though Snow White is really a big deal in Spanish-speaking countries,” Zegler said. “Blanca Nieves is a huge icon whether you’re talking about the Disney cartoon or just different iterations and the Grimm fairy tale and all the stories that come with it. But you don’t particularly see people who look like me or are me playing roles like that.”
Anyone who questioned Zegler’s casting was immediately denounced as a racist. Zegler responded to the backlash on X by sharing photos of herself dressed as Snow White as a young child. “Extremely appreciative of the love I feel from those defending me online, but please don’t tag me in the nonsensical discourse about my casting,” Zegler wrote.
extremely appreciative of the love i feel from those defending me online, but please don’t tag me in the nonsensical discourse about my casting.
i really, truly do not want to see it.
so i leave you w these photos! i hope every child knows they can be a princess no matter what pic.twitter.com/AU5PjJutK5
— rachel zegler (she/her/hers) (@rachelzegler) July 15, 2023
Things went downhill from there. Appearances aside, some of the strongest reservations to the new “Snow White” come from comments Zegler made about updates to the storyline, which seem to indicate writers have completely changed the storyline.
The original “Snow White” is about an Evil Queen (played in the new version by Gal Gadot) who is jealous of Snow White’s beauty. She orders a huntsman to murder of her stepdaughter, but later discovers that Snow White is still alive and hiding in a cottage with seven friendly dwarves. The Evil Queen disguises herself as an old woman and brings a poisoned apple to Snow White, who falls into a death-like sleep that can be broken only by a kiss from a prince.
“It’s no longer 1937,” the actress told Variety during a September 2022 interview of the new movie. “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 if she was fearless, fair, brave and true.”
And that’s not all. In another clip that went viral, Zegler accused Snow White’s prince of “stalking” her.
“I mean, you know, the original cartoon came out in 1937, and very evidently so. There’s a big focus on her love story with a guy who literally stalks her. Weird! Weird. So we didn’t do that this time,” she said.
“We have a different approach to what I’m sure a lot of people will assume is a love story just because, like we cast a guy in the movie … It’s one of those things that I think everyone’s going to have their assumptions about what it’s actually going to be, but it’s really not about the love story at all, which is really, really wonderful.”
This left many fans wondering: if “Snow White” wasn’t a love story, then what kind of story was it, exactly?
Disney already changed the storyline from the original film once. The Brothers Grimm version included macabre details like the Evil Queen demanding for the huntsman to bring back Snow White’s heart and liver as proof that he killed her. He returned with the organs of a deer instead, and the queen ate them.
Disney softened the story for a young audience, as they did with so many other old fairytales. But now “Snow White” will be apparently be so unrecognizable that fans wonder why the studio bothered using the story for inspiration at all.
There’s also the matter of those seven dwarves. Last year, “Game of Thrones” actor Peter Dinklage spoke out publicly about the remake happening in the first place, saying Disney shouldn’t be telling a “backward story” about dwarves.
Disney responded with a statement, saying, “To avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film, we are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community.”
Photos leaked from the film’s set sparked all kinds of reactions. Zegler’s crew of “companions” included people of varying heights, genders, and appearance, prompting The Daily Mail to run a headline touting them as “Snow White and the Seven Politically-Correct Companions.”
“So they have one little person playing a dwarf to be more ‘politically correct?’ So 6 other little people didn’t get the job or the check and somehow this is more ‘sensitive?’ Disney is a joke,” Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren tweeted in response to the article.
Many people have been complaining about the woke-ification of “Snow White.” David Hand, the son of one of the original film’s directors, called the remake a “disgrace.” He also claimed his father and Walt Disney would, “very much disagree with it.”
“I think Walt and he would be turning in their graves,” Hand told The Telegraph in an August interview. He said Disney is “just so radical now. They change the stories, they change the thought process of the characters. 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 is a chance that “Snow White” won’t be as insufferable as it seems. There’s also a small chance that Disney will notice all the negative press and rather than forging ahead, they’ll stall the project and address some of the more egregious issues.
The likelier outcome is that the studio will force their agenda on a disinterested audience and “Snow White” will become yet another pointless, embarrassing disaster of a remake that leaves everyone questioning why it was ever made.