Disney “Whitewashes” ‘Snow White’ After Diverse Casting Backlash, CGI Caught by Fans

in Disney, Entertainment

Credit: Edited by Inside the Magic

At times, Disney has to make tough decisions, which may include pushing back the release date of a movie. This is exactly what we have now seen with Disney’s live-action Snow White movie, starring Rachel Zegler as the now highly controversial original Disney princess.

Snow White dancing with the seven dwarfs
Credit: Disney

Not only has Disney delayed the film by an entire year, but they have released the first official look into the world of Snow White, and it seems that fans have a unified opinion at Disney’s shocking, and unexpected reveal.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Original Legend

Released in 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs holds a monumental place in the history of animation and cinema. As the first full-length animated feature film, it revolutionized the industry and laid the foundation for the creation of the animated classics that followed. The film’s impact was felt not only in its technical achievements but also in its cultural significance. Its success not only saved the Walt Disney Studios from potential bankruptcy but also established Disney as a dominant force in the entertainment world.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was its enduring influence on storytelling and character development. The film introduced audiences to a timeless and beloved fairy tale, setting a high standard for animated storytelling.

Evil Queen as an Old Crone giving Snow White the poisoned apple
Credit: Disney

Born as a princess by birth, Snow White lived with her royal family in a castle faraway. Unfortunately, her mother died shortly after she was born. After some time, her father, the King, remarried a vain and cold-hearted Queen. Not long after their marriage, Snow White’s beloved father suspiciously died, leaving the young princess as an orphan.

Snow is a young princess; the “Fairest One of All”, whose beauty is defined by her inherent kindness and purity. Shortly after discovering love in a charming Prince, Snow White learned that her jealous stepmother, the Evil Queen, was determined to kill her. Snow White forcibly ran away from home to escape the Queen’s wrath, but found shelter in the cottage of seven dwarfs. Under the care of her new companions, Snow White dreamt of reuniting with her prince and living happily ever after.

snow-white-seven-dwarfs-dancing
Credit: Disney

Snow White is the first official member of the Disney Princess line-up. Her character provided the basis for later heroines in Disney fairy tales such as Cinderella, and Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. Many of Snow White’s traits — such as her royal lineage, friendly relationship with animals, and propensity for singing — continue to inspire both heroes and heroines in Disney animated films to this day.

Disney’s Live-Action Controversy

Starting nearly a decade ago, The Walt Disney Company embarked on a mission to remake all of its classic animated films, giving them a live-action spin. We’ve seen countless classic Disney films get remade, some with stunning visual effects and upgrades, like The Lion King (2019), The Jungle Book (2016), and Cinderella (2015), to name a few. Peter Pan & Wendy, the most recent “live-action” adaptation, was released earlier this year on Disney+. Disney also attempted to capitalize on its classic Haunted Mansion attraction for the second time with 2023’s Haunted Mansion.

We have also seen films like Beauty and the Beast starring Harry Potter star Emma Watson, and Pirates of the Caribbean, starring Johnny Depp, break records at the box office and breathe new life into an old story.

Disney also released a reimagining of its iconic 1989 film The Little Mermaid, with Halle Bailey taking on the role of Ariel in The Little Mermaid (2023).

This is when things took a turn for Disney.

Disney has been moving in a much more inclusive direction in all facets of the company –– some of which have been controversial to guests.

When casting Bailey, although she has the voice of an angel, there were many that were not happy with the casting choice due to the color of the actress’s skin. People were not thrilled that Ariel would be black and not the white, red-haired princess they grew up watching. Some even decided to boycott the film, and #NotMyAriel began trending.

Directed by Rob Marshall with a screenplay by David Magee, The Little Mermaid features original music by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alan Menken. The film stars Halle Bailey as Ariel, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Melissa McCarthy as sea witch Ursula, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian the crab, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder the fish, Javier Bardem as King Triton, and Awkwafina as Scuttle the seagull. (Spoiler alert: Keep your eyes peeled for a Jodi Benson cameo!)

The next casting choice to ruffle feathers was Yara Shahidi getting cast as Tinkerbell in Peter Pan and Wendy. Since the actress is black, and Tink is historically white with blonde hair, some did not like the news, especially coming back to back with the Halle Bailey casting.

The next upcoming Disney live-action film is Snow White. When fans heard the original Disney princess would be getting her own film, many were thrilled. Then, it was confirmed that West Side Story actress Rachel Zegler would be helming the ship as Snow White. While some were not impressed due to the Latina actress not having skin “white as snow”, the main drama came after Zegler announced that the titular character would be much more “woke” than the 1937 interpretation of the gentle caretaker. 

At Disneyland Park, we saw Disney entirely shift Snow White’s Scary Adventure into Snow White’s Enchanted Wish. Not only did the ride get a lot less scary for little ones, but the message of consent was smudged, according to some.

In order to make the attraction more appealing to a larger crowd and the children that love Disney’s first Princess, the Imagineers retooled and reimagined the ride to be happier and enhance the classic storyline. This desire to alter the epic attraction would then forshadow Disney’s decision to change the storyline of the film entirely.

Snow White Scandal

Snow White is an upcoming American musical fantasy film directed by Marc Webb, from a screenplay by Greta Gerwig and Erin Cressida Wilson. Co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Marc Platt Productions, it is a live-action remake of Walt Disney’s 1937 animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which itself is loosely based on the 1812 fairy tale of the same title by the Brothers Grimm. The film stars Rachel Zegler as the title character and Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen.

Snow White's true love's kiss
Credit: Disney

Andrew Burnap will also be starring as Jonathan, a replacement for the secondary role of Prince Charming.

Zegler has made comments about the movie, calling the fairytale “strange” and stating that it’s no longer 1937. She emphasized that Snow White won’t be a damsel in distress saved by a prince but rather a character who aspires to be a fearless, fair, brave, and true leader.

These changes have sparked debate, with some labeling them as “woke.” Disney’s aim to bring more inclusivity to its films has been applauded by some but criticized by others who believe the company is moving away from its timeless classics, including those crafted by Walt Disney himself. Despite the backlash, Disney appears determined to move forward with the changes.

rachel-zegler-actors-strike
Credit: SAG-AFTRA

Zegler was also caught noting that she was scared of the Disney attraction of Snow White, and that she only watched the film once in her life, leaving many upset that someone who is not a true fan of Disney’s first princess is playing the role, and entirely changing the “caretaker” archetype Snow had, and turning her into a Robin Hood-style leader with a much tougher exterior — opposite to the animated Snow White character.

This has led to many thinking that Rachel Zegler would be replaced or that the entire film would be scrapped. Rumors of Netflix’s Jenna Ortega (Wednesday) have been swirling amid Rachel Zegler’s leave from the Paddington 3 franchise; however, nothing has been confirmed.

Another point of contention for fans within the film is that following criticism from actor Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) over the “stereotypical portrayal of dwarfs”, Disney announced that the film will replace the titular characters with “magical creatures.”

Following this, we saw images of Rachel Zegler and her seven co-stars on set, with only one dwarf actor being cast. With that sight, and the fact that they were no longer “dwarfs” but magical creatures, it became clear that Disney was ditching the original depiction of the characters. Or… so we thought.

Disney Majorly Postpones Snow White

Now, as we know, Disney has postponed the opening of Snow White. 

The Hollywood Reporter confirmed, “Disney on Friday announced it is delaying the release of its live-action Snow White movie starring Rachel Zegler by a year from March 22, 2024 to March 21, 2025. The film, which is officially titled Disney’s Snow White, is among the studio’s biggest offerings of the year, and is one of the anchors of its spring slate.”

This quickly stunned Disney fans as pushing back a “finished” film by one year is not too common and had heads turning that there is more going on behind the scenes. The articles heavily indicate that the pushback is due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, as Disney may not be able to complete small finishes on the movie, such as ADR, and other last-minute tidying that needs to be done, but requires the actors to do so.

Rachel Zegler as Snow White in Disney's live-action version of Snow White
Credit: Disney

That being said, with the amount of negative press that the film has gotten, others think that the excuse is a front for the company to redo major aspects of the film — one of those changes which Disney also shared with the release of this news.

When Disney announced the delay, we learnt three things:

  1. Snow White will be pushed back one year.
  2. The first image release of the movie starred Rachel Zegler in the center as Snow White, squashing rumors that she will be “replaced”.
  3. Snow White will indeed have seven dwarfs.

If we take the second two points, that is where things are quite interesting. Disney released the first look into the film, which shared Rachel Zegler as Snow White. Considering there have been so many rumors about Zegler getting re-cast, Disney has now made it quite clear that they are moving ahead with the original choice.

Rachel Zegler pretending to be Snow White in front of a poster of the classic animated princess
Credit: Rachel Zegler via Twitter

In the photo, we also noticed that the seven “magical creatures” around her look absolutely nothing like the actors that were cast. In the end, every magical creature is depicted as more of a caricature with larger ears and noses. This begs the question — why did Disney intentionally not cast dwarf actors, but instead, taller actors whom they would then CGI later in order to shorten their height?

It does seem that there is a chance that this was not always Disney’s direction with the magical creatures, as it would make no sense as to why Disney intentionally did not cast real dwarf actors. The backlash for removing the characters was so immense that it appears Disney backtracked to “make it right”, however, now the casting appears to have been done in poor taste, ignoring their mission of inclusive and diverse casting.

Fans Want the Film to go “Back in the Vault”

Now that Disney fans have been able to see the new photo and hear the news of the major delay, there is a strongly unified opinion that this film will be a disaster for Disney.

Pop Base (@PopBase) shared the photo of the Snow White cast, which has received thousands of replies.

First look at the ‘Snow White’ live-action movie starring Rachel Zegler.

Many of which favored the film to be canceled.

One person said, “put it back in the vault, we dont want it”,  another noted, “This is going to flop so hard”.

Many seemed to be terrified of the image, posting skull emojis and saying, “This looks like a horror movie”.  Another said, “cancel it, seriously.”

Some think that this is not even a real photo, “That seems to be made by AI”. The negative comments continue, “ew that’s just wrong”, “What are they doing?”, “Straight to VHS for you”, “Why did they CGI the dwarves….”, “looks creepy af”, “Why must they ruin classics with live-action’s every time. #stop”, and the comments continue.

One person also picked up on the white-washing that has seemingly been done, “They are all white? Where is the diversity cast from the infamous photo?”. The original magical creatures have cast mates of color, but in this photo, it is tough to see that color and diversity are represented as all of the dwarfs are caucasian.

While there are some that are certainly happy to see the first glimpse of the film, it appears Disney will have to do a lot of emergency PR in order to save the millions spent on this live action.

What do you think of this first look at Snow White? Are you a fan?

 

 

 

 

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