The internet is abuzz with the news that Disney has cast actress Rachel Zegler as the live-action Snow White. For the record the actress is said to be of Columbian and Polish descent, and she does resemble the lead character in many other ways.
We can argue it all day about casting and Disney’s “diversity and inclusion” initiatives and so on. But my take a way is that Disney is both cheaping out and cowarding out towards real minorities.
Why can’t we have a new Latina princess?
I know we have Elena of Avalor, but that character is not a film character.
Disney has been quick to race swap characters as of late. We have Halle Bailey playing Ariel and Tinkerbell is also supposedly going to be race swapped in the Peter Pan film.
I just don’t understand why Disney keeps race swapping existing characters instead of giving people actual characters and stories that are culturally and ethnically diverse. It just seems that making new princesses that genuinely reflect the culture and heritage of various peoples would be the way to give a thoughtful response to the diversity issue they claim is plaguing Hollywood.
Even recently we had Moana, and the story from Coco and both did amazingly well. People loved them. Both stories were more than just a character that happened to be a different culture or race. They were immersive stories with a world that reflected where they were from, what they believe, and who they are.
Instead they just race swap existing characters and then let the media imply people that question the change are terrible people. But, to me, it’s more patronizing and shallow to just race bend an established character instead of creating a new one and allowing them to live within a world and story that has their unique perspective and voice. Not another culture’s because it’s cheaper.
Will this be all they change?
Snow White is a story that has faced issues as of late with some people voicing concerns that the “true love’s kiss” promotes a lack of consent. If Disney is rebooting it with a live-action film where they’ve already picked a princess that was darker skinned, I’m betting they change the story’s ending as well.
Disney had just dumped a bunch of money to change the Disneyland attraction from “Snow White’s Scary Adventures” to “Snow White’s Enchanted Wish.” Of course they were going to defend their choice for the ending of the attraction. Many people sided with Disney as it’s an old fairy tale and Disney’s first animated feature.
Maybe leave it be and instead invest time and effort into actually spotlighting other cultures and characters.
But why not just make a new story?
If I had to guess I would say it’s most likely because Disney wants to cash in on what they already own and on what is cheaper, quicker and easier to produce. It’s not about actually trying to be inclusive as much as it’s about appearing so to the masses while cranking out a film to cash in on buzz and accolades all while doing very little to actually be truly inclusive.
All the rewards without much risk.
But people are getting quite tired of the live-action reboots. The movies aren’t performing all that well overall and people are simply getting tired of them. Disney keeps green lighting more and more. I’m sure it’s because it gives them cheaper and quicker fodder for Disney+ and Hot Star.
I just think that if you truly wanted to embrace and elevate other cultures, and women of other cultures, you would take the time to create a story that is actually reflective of their place in history or of the world. Disney used to do this. I just wish they would spend the time and money to do it again instead of just rehashing old stories, while changing skin tone, and saying they did something.
I guess for now everyone will have to be satisfied with just this much from Disney.
Image source: Good Morning America
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.