Is Snow White Still the Fairest of Them All?

It's been a while since I shared my thoughts on a new Disney movie based on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Since then, Disney cast their leading lady as Rachel Zegler, who starred as Maria in the 2021 remake of West Side Story, and there has been an influx of controversy revolving around this film that has gotten too big to ignore. Snow White's casting is the most innocuous of these controversies. I have already shared my thoughts about how any girl can be a princess. Sure, it's a bit odd for a Latina person to play a character whose defining trait is having skin as white as snow, but Rachel is a talented singer and actress who would fit well into the role of any Disney Princess.

Rachel Zegler in a beautiful dress at the West Side Story premiere

A more recent casting controversy is the removal of the words "and the Seven Dwarfs" from the title of this ambitious live-action remake as well as Disney's response to complaints about the dwarf characters not being politically correct enough for today's standards. At first, Disney made claims that they "are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community." However, a report from TheWrap soon revealed that "Instead of dwarfs, Disney will fill the void with a group of what they describe as 'magical creatures,'" potentially putting seven actors from the dwarfism community out of a job. In the midst of all this controversy, a fire broke out on the film set a few days ago, which, if you are superstitious, may have been a higher power trying to tell Disney that this movie may not be such a good idea.

Aside from the casting, a "Snow White" remake that is based specifically on Disney's 1937 classic creates other potential problems. The film was a phenomenon as the first feature-length animated movie, but after 80 years, some people consider certain aspects of it outdated. For instance, there was a complaint last year about the kiss scene being included the updated version of the Snow White's Enchanted Wish ride at Disneyland because Snow White was unconscious at the time (even though that was the only way for her to wake up). While this is a common fairy tale trope, it does not match the modern representation of the Disney Princess brand in which princesses rarely have love interests anymore. As fantastic a job Rachel Zegler would do performing Snow White's two songs, "I'm Wishing," and "Someday My Prince" will come with her vocal chops, these would likely get targeted by social justice warriors if they are included since both songs are about her desire to marry.

Snow White's prince carrying her away

I think Disney would be better off sticking to their pseudo live-action Snow White from ABC's Once Upon a Time, which came out during a time when romance was still considered acceptable in fairy tales. It managed to balance out the sweetness of Ginnifer Goodwin's version of the character with some badass warrior princess prowess. Trying to recreate this classic heroine in a way that would satisfy everyone today would be likely go up in flames (and part of it already has). Titling this movie after Walt's masterpiece is also an insult to the one that launched his almost century-long legacy of nostalgia and comfort characters. There are even some who believe that these changes have already transformed the movie into something else entirely and that if they change the title, Disney could promote it as an original story.

It might  be that Snow White represents a time and mindset that no longer exists, and I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. She reminds us of a more optimistic era when people took the time to enjoy the world around them instead of frantically searching for something new to get angry about. In her own pure, innocent way, Snow White is still the fairest of them all. However, her particular style of fairness is considered old-fashioned and out of touch by today's standards. I think there's something kind of beautiful about that which cannot be captured in a film produced by modern Hollywood.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Disney has ruined almost every single classic they had. Their live action films are nothing more than their attempt to pander to the social justice brigade. Imagine a live action remake of The Princess and the Frog with a white Tiana. These characters have already been created. Instead of changing classics that people hold dear, and changing the race of any of their princesses, perhaps they should make new princess stories. I scoff at a Hispanic show white the same way I'd scoff at a white Tiana or a black Mulan. These are all characters that have been loved by millions for decades. The 7 magical creatures? Heaven help me. Disney is getting more and more ridiculous with every film. They took out Raja to put a feminist companion in Aladdin. They changed Ariel. Now they want to change Snow White AND get rid of the dwarves?! All for a group of people that do nothing but complain about these classics anyway! I miss the days of princesses and their prince charmings. It's too bad Disney doesn't realize they can make strong princesses that still fall in love and want happily ever after. That's almost as sad as the fact that they choose to change the races of princesses we've known for decades, rather than create new princess of every race and creed. I gave up on Disney a while back. Obviously, I made the right choice.
Lisa Dawn said…
I actually disagree with the theory that a white Tiana would be offensive because the movie is based a German story known as "The Frog King" (more commonly known as "The Frog Prince"), and The Princess and the Frog was a reimagining of the fairy tale. If Disney were to do a new reimagining of "The Frog King" in live-action, it wouldn't really matter what race the princess was since they already changed so much in the animated version anyway. However, I do agree that it's rather irritating how they pick and choose which elements of their specific versions of the fairy tales to keep in the live-action remakes and which elements to change. It's as thought they believe that their version is the "correct" version and everything that social justice warriors say is also correct, so they must simply update the interpretation of the story that they already created to please certain people instead of reimagining it again the way they did with their original animated versions. In this respect, Once Upon a Time did a better job at reimagining fairy tales in live-action during the first couple of seasons, but then it started pandering the Disney versions later on.

This why I like to review books and films in my blog that reimagine fairy tales in their own way and don't always consider Disney's interpretation to be the "correct" or only way to interpret them.
whitephoenix said…
Your blog is the only way I remain connected to princess culture anymore because Disney, the most iconic "creator", has turned its back on its original fans by removing the romance and magic in favor of "updating" these classic characters. I didn't always like all of the changes Once Upon a Time did (mainly towards the end of the show when it really became a mess) but the early seasons were so respectful and loving towards the source material. Snow White in particular was my favorite in the show so it's amazing how we could go from Ginnifer Goodwin's reverential portrayal to this mess. I also have issues with the specific actress they cast as the new Snow White (although her name won't even make sense anymore). She was supposed to be filming for Snow White in London right now but she threw a hissy fit on social media, complaining about how Disney did not invite her to the Oscars. Because social media is the final judge, jury and executioner these days, her unprofessional behavior was rewarded and Disney, to avoid a scandal of being called sexist or racist, extended her an offer to present at the Oscars. This is coming from an actress who has only one film which was a box office disaster under her helm. I think the new Snow White will be a similar flop and her career will be virtually over, especially since her unprofessional behavior has apparently also irked Stephen Spielberg. Many people online have said that her social media behavior is very rude and disrespectful, so it's a real shame that one of the sweetest Disney characters is being played by such an entitled diva.

We also know from what Disney and the actors themselves have claimed about this Snow White remake that there will be no prince in this version. The "prince" will instead be a thief so basically Flynn Rider 2.0. The movie will center around a Snow White who is fighting to take back her kingdom from the queen. And Miss Zegler has very proudly stated that Snow White was a very antiquated character who has no place in this modern world and her portrayal will be tailored towards an "empowered" Snow White who does not need romance so if any of the other controversies about this movie hadn't already turned me off, this alone certainly did.

Thank you again for maintaining this blog and championing princess culture for all the girls, boys, and people who never saw anything wrong with wishing upon a star or dreaming for true love and that what is considered traditionally feminine is not necessarily weak or something to be disdained.
Lisa Dawn said…
Hi whitephoenix,

Thank you for reading my posts and sharing your insightful comments on these issues! It's nice to have other people to discuss them with. I also loved Ginnifer Goodwin's portrayal of Snow White in Once Upon a Time and feel that she was the peak live-action version of this character. I actually don't do much research on actresses because I usually feel like their personal lives aren't any of my business and have little to do with the characters they play. I have heard a little about Rachel Zegler's behavior on social media, but I didn't know about her scandal with the Oscars. I really enjoyed her role in West Side Story, so I'm a little surprised she wasn't invited to the Oscars. Then again, I stopped watching award shows a few years ago.

I was initially disappointed with Flynn Rider when Tangled came out because I think that men should be role models in family movies just as much as women, so I didn't like that they made him a criminal. However, he grew on me over time after watching the series. I'm not too surprised that Snow White isn't going to have a prince, but it's a shame that the next generation of children won't be able to experience the fairy tale the way that it was meant to be told. Hopefully, romance will come back into fashion one day in the future.
whitephoenix said…
Hi, thank you so much for responding! I agree with you that Ginnifer Goodwin was the definitive live-action Snow White, although to be fair, most of the recent portrayals haven't given her much competition whether it was Kristen Stewart or Lily Collins. I generally try not to care much about the personal lives of actors either, since they tend to disappoint more often than not, but Zegler's been mentioned a lot on social media lately so it was hard to miss. This is actually going to be the first year I won't be watching the Oscars, for a variety of reasons.

I've never been a Flynn fan. I love your statement that men should be role models in family movies just as much as women and I also believe that if we have princesses who are role models for children, it's just as important for the princes to be role models as well. For every Snow White and Cinderella, there's also an Aladdin and Prince Phillip. While Aladdin may be a thief, the movie establishes from the very beginning that he's not proud of it and only doing it to survive because of the lack of opportunities for someone of his class in Agrabah. That, plus the way he feeds children who have even less than him makes him pretty moral and someone to root for. Flynn, on the other hand, becomes a thief for the purpose of fame. They try to throw in a contrived story about being in an orphanage but for the most part, Flynn comes across as a real philanderer and the way he brought a sheltered girl like Rapunzel into an inn full of drunken ruffians always disturbed me. Thank goodness Disney would never be realistic about what probably would have happened in a scene like that. I've never been a Tangled fan (I much prefer Barbie as Rapunzel and the original Rapunzel fairy tale), so I've never seen Flynn's depiction in the TV show but I've heard from lots of people who had lukewarm feelings on Tangled that the show is much better. I do hope Disney comes back to their old school style that made them the brand they are today, but I'm not holding my breath :(
Lisa Dawn said…
The scene where Flynn brought Rapunzel to the Snuggly Duckling is kind of interesting because he brought her there specifically in the hopes that she would want to leave and get him out of the deal. The fact that everyone there wanted to kill him proves that he never intended on exposing her to the "ruffians and thugs," but she surprised him by winning them over anyway. So while it was not particularly honorable to put her in a situation like that in the first place, I think the fact that he wasn't planning on keeping her there showed that he cared at least a little, and the end results really showed the power of her "Disney Princess" persona.

My thoughts about male characters needing to be role models also relate to why I can't stand the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise or the pirate craze in general since they were known to be dangerous criminals. Maybe I just don't get it. I was at Disney World when they used to have Pirate and Princess Parties, and even though I thought they were amazing because of all the additional princess entertainment and merchandise, I wished they could have picked a better fantasy archetype for boys than pirates.
whitephoenix said…
Flynn's intention was to scare Rapunzel and I can only imagine how many ways you could be scared in a pub full of drunken ruffians, especially if you're a teenage girl who's only ever met another man in her life just one hour before. It felt unsuitable and a little too dangerous for my taste, although that's just me.

I don't have any issue with pirates in general but I've never really been a fan either. I don't know if I don't get the appeal because there's a gender divide but I've seen plenty of girls who like pirates and plenty of boys who like princesses so it can't be that. Princes have sadly never been too popular with boys, not even when Disney tried to market the Disney Heroes/Adventurers line with Prince Phillip, Aladdin, Tarzan, Hercules, and Peter Pan. Interestingly enough, the only villain they bothered to market as part of that line was Captain Hook. Your comment about how pirates aren't good role models for children also reminds me of how when Keira Knightley made her tone-deaf comments about how she wouldn't let her daughter watch Disney movies because the female roles are too offensive, some people pointed out how her own Elizabeth Swann was hardly a bastion of morality between becoming a pirate queen and kissing Jack Sparrow while engaged to Will.
Lisa Dawn said…
Yeah, I was pretty shocked when Keira said she wouldn't let her daughter watch The Little Mermaid and even felt bad about it because it was one of her favorites. Just let her watch it and you won't have to feel bad! It's a shame that the Disney Heroes line didn't work out since boys need good role models too. That's probably one of the reasons Disney eventually bought out Marvel after that. They did release a limited line of Disney Store merchandise in 2019 that featured prints of all the princes, but I think it was more for women than for men.
whitephoenix said…
I forgot that Keira said she loved TLM which makes her reasoning even more bizarre. Kristen Bell at least said she would show her daughter these movies but have a conversation with her about them. Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar were all acquisitions Disney made to cater to boys, especially the Cars and Toy Story franchises when it comes to Pixar. I remember seeing some of the merch with "princes" although they also included Kronk for some reason.
Anonymous said…
YES! As a black woman I don't like all the stupid racebending these days, racebending before the 2010s was for genuine diversity, now it's all hollow pandering and so many POC SJWs are saying "only whitewashing exists" or "the influence isn't the same because of white privelege" and it's all nonsense. It doesn't help that Rachel has said some anti-white propaganda on her Twitter (even though she's half Hungarian). I mean, at least Halle Bailey is a good person. Rachel is really not a good role model for Latinos or anyone else. If they wanted a Latina they should have cast someone like Jenna Ortega or Stephanie beatriz, not an SJW hypocrite.

It's so hard to find minorities who don't take the whole "I'm a minority and even if another minority disagrees they're either white in real life or they're a traitor." I have gotten bullied for calling out SJWs and saying that anti-white racism is a thing, and that we should strive for original POC characters over racebending.

In fact, I found a good article listing racebending of all kinds, showing all the latest trends in SJW pandering:
https://awfulmovies.miraheze.org/wiki/Character_race_changes
Jim to the Ski said…
Also ironic that Keira hates Cinderella and Ariel but played the Sugar Plum Fairy in the nutcracker movie, but then she was playing a villain. And even more ironic is that Keira has a husband. I don't get why radical feminists hate pink, romance, damsels, and other traditionally feminine qualities but want all women to be rough, fighting, pants-wearing she-men. Like if you want to fight the alleged patriarchy why are the only women that they are okay with are women like Xena, Warrior Princess or Mulan or basically any other woman who is MASCULINE? They make no sense at all. Especially considering that if princesses loved other women the romance would probably seen as okay just because it's "more woman".
Jim to the Ski said…
Ans also, Cinderella is a great influence! She has a bad rep because radical feminists victim-blame her. Firstly, she's not a damsel in distress because that means a female character who is in danger, Cinderella was not in danger. Cinderella was abused by her stepfamily. Where could she go? She was an orphan in 18th century France with no money, food, of clothes except the ones on her back. She couldn't have survived out in the public if she even tried. Prince Charming was not her reason for going to the ball , it was to have a free night to party and relax. She's actually lucky she married him because he managed to take her out of poverty, and he treats her well. As someone with an abuse survivor mother, I can't understand her bad reputation. Walt himself even defended her saying that she was not physically strong but she was brave and positive, which makes her strong. Strength isn't just whipping out a sword or doing karate chops at someone. As for the consent thng in Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, that was not non-consentual, because the couples in both stories met each other and were interested, so obviously Snow and Aurora would be okay with it. Ariel didn;t give up her voice just for Eric, he was one of the reasons, but she wanted to be on land before she even knew he existed. It wasn't her being stupid. I want to see more traditionally feminine women in media, because there's nothing wrong with it. Just look at Japan, they still make more traditionally feminine women in fiction compared to America, but then America is just SJWland and other countries don't bow to that nonsense. It all needs to stop. Everything is offensive these days.
Anonymous said…
Also Elizabeth got into danger all the time, the "damsel" Cinderella claim she makes is so dumb when she whines about a girl who never got into danger, then plays an actual damsel who is always being taken hostage, hanging off cliffs, walking the plank, being sacrificed, and other dangerous situations. I hate Keira Knightley, and am sorry for her daughter who will be brainwashed by her mom and will be missing out on some quality movies because her mom was biased.
Lisa Dawn said…
Hi Jim to the Ski, thanks for visiting my blog! I agree that Halle Bailey seems like an excellent choice for Ariel despite the politics of modern race-bending. In Keira Knightley's defense, I doubt she gets to decide which roles she gets cast in, but the treatment of her daughter is still pretty awful. I do appreciate that anime still prioritizes feminine characters. Many of the books I review here have feminine characters as well and are written by American authors, but they are usually independent, so they don't have to follow corporate politics. Cinderella is one story that is nearly impossible to retell in a way that turns the protagonist into a tomboy, so it's kind of interesting to see modern retellings of it like Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical, which makes her more of a goth with a hidden feminine side. I will continue to seek out modern media that celebrates femininity and princess culture for my blog and pass along everything I find. Have a lovely evening!
Aquamarine said…
Very disturbed by Rachel Zegler and her continuously making comments about how Snow White is an outdated story and needs an upgrade and the usual drivel about how romance is bad. I have never understood how Disney and the actors they cast think the best way to promote their movies is by trashing on previous works. Keira Knightley is guilty of this but I judge Kristen Bell even more because she actually plays an unofficial Disney Princess as Anna, yet she went out of her way to talk about how she felt the classic princesses were too perfect and not good representation for girls. She also has issues sharing Snow White and similar fairy tales with her daughter.

I think the only actress I can think of who was kind and respectful and embodied the values of a princess was Mackenzie Foy, who played Clara in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. At the same time that her co-star Keira was dissing the princesses, we have Mackenzie who talks about how Cinderella is her favorite princess. It's sad how that's such a novel idea now since pretty much every other princess actress makes a point of only liking the modern ones like Tiana, Moana, etc. These new princesses will not stand the test of time (nor will the remakes of the classic ones) but Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, etc. will always be iconic and beloved characters.
Lisa Dawn said…
Mackenzie Foy was the only thing I liked about The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Thanks for stopping by!
whitephoenix said…
@Lisa Dawn - I saw your comment about how you don't think Keira Knightley gets to decide which roles she gets cast into. I'm not an actress nor do I have any experience with casting, but from my admittedly limited knowledge, I was under the impression that casting agents find roles for actors and the actors (especially famous ones like Keira) can accept or reject scripts. There's a recent interview with Keira, in fact, where she talks about why she mostly does period movies. She said it's because all the modern scripts she gets usually involve rape scenes so she refuses them on that basis, whereas period dramas she prefers because they have better roles for women. So I do think Keira does have agency in deciding which roles to take.
Lisa Dawn said…
I suppose she could turn down a script if she really wanted to, but she still needs to make a living. However, as I said, that's not excuse from banning her daughter from watching perfectly innocent family movies.
misanthrope86 said…
I will be skipping this like all Disney remakes. I'm not interested in seeing white people be demonized especially after the lead actress posted racist comments about white skin being bleached. Although I am not white, that doesn't mean I approve of racism against anyone.
Lisa Dawn said…
Yes, I have heard about the actress's inappropriate tweets. I do not approve of them, but I wouldn't hold it against her performance.

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