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Snow White and…magical creatures?

Max Cisotti/Dave Benett/WireImag
Zegler is known for her work in “West Side Story” (2021) and the “Hunger Games’” prequel, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” (2023).

Another Disney princess outrage has taken the internet by storm–but this time, it’s a little more complicated.

Disney cast Rachel Zegler, star of “West Side Story” (2021), as Snow White in the 2024 live-action remake. The decision sparked an online debate with people expressing concerns first about her skin color, and then about her attitude.

It all started in June of 2021 when Disney announced they would remake the beloved 1937 animated film and cast the Polish-Colombian who was raised in New Jersey to play the iconic princess.

This casting decision surprised many and caused backlash. Critics complained that as a Latinx woman, she did not resemble the original character’s design, who most notably has “skin as white as snow.” Some worried that by changing the original princess’ appearance, the film would lose the iconic charm of the character.

While Snow White’s new look was the initial complaint of those who opposed the film, as more information came out about production decisions, protests began to mount.

For one, there will no longer be seven dwarfs. (Notice the remake is titled “Snow White,” not “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”). The upcoming remake will instead include only one actor with dwarfism, and six actors of average stature playing “magical creatures.”

The change was made after Peter Dinklage, star of “Game of Thrones,” criticized Disney for retelling a story with outdated stereotypes of dwarfism.

“There’s a lot of hypocrisy going on…Well, you know, [Disney is] really progressive…they’re very proud to cast a Latina actress as Snow White, but you’re still telling the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” Dinklage commented on Marc Maron’s Podcast, WTF.

“Take a step back and look at what you’re doing there. It makes no sense to me. You’re progressive in one way, but you’re telling a story of seven dwarves in a cave.”

Disney representatives responded in multiple media outlets. They stated the script was undergoing revisions to “avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film,” and shared that they were working closely with “members of the dwarfism community” to take a “different approach.”

Meaning the remake will not be featuring the seven dwarves. This decision caused major backlash online as some fans criticized Disney for going “too woke.”

Another cause of controversy was the major alteration to the love story component of the film.

Fans were crushed when Zegler announced in an interview with Variety that, since “it’s not 1937,” Snow White is “not going to be saved by a prince and she’s not going to be dreaming about love…She’s dreaming about being the leader she knows she can be…if she was fearless, fair, brave, and true.”

Zegler added: “And I think it’s a really great story for young people everywhere to see themselves in.”

Even Gal Gadot commented in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: “The fact that she’s not going to be saved by the prince, and she’s the proactive one, and she’s the one who sets the terms is what makes it so relevant to who we are today.”

Just make another movie!

— Olivia Cooper '25

Of course, not everyone agreed. Tiktok user @reuben posted a video with 1.2 million likes and 8 million views, where he questioned why Snow White had to be a leader if that was not the point of the original fairytale.

“She’s not supposed to be this girl-boss-leader-queen feminist icon,” he said. “I don’t know why in every reimagining, the woman has to be in a position of power; otherwise it’s not feminist.”

The user continued, “I don’t know why to make a film more progressive, the woman can’t have a focus on love or finding true love. I would have hoped that we had reached a point in feminism and gender equality where every female-led story doesn’t have to have the woman being extraordinary. Snow White wanted to find true love–that’s fine. Most of us do…and some of us want to be saved by a prince. I know I do.”

Another Tik Tok user, @ChickFlicks, posted a video with 2 million views responding to Zegler’s comment that Snow White was outdated.

“You’re right. It’s no longer 1937. And you know what else women no longer have to do? Choose. We can have both [a career and love]. Yet they make us choose because ‘nobody can have both.’ Except for males. Like in superhero movies: when they have a love interest, they get to save the day, have their career, and save the girl. So why can’t we have that?”

Many Carrollton students also expressed their frustration about the changed plot. “Who wouldn’t want to be saved by a prince?” asked Pia Tilen ‘25. “Why would her dreaming about love be a bad thing?”

Camilla Huck ‘25 felt the same way. “I don’t think that a woman that chooses to love instead of being a girl boss makes her less heroic. You can still be heroic and love people. There’s no wrong in that. And if you want to change the plot line of an entire movie, just make another movie. It’s not that difficult. She can be a career woman and love; don’t put her in a box.”

“Ok, I get this ‘women are independent’ thing,” Priscilla Fernandez ’25 put in. “Great. Don’t make her love interest 4 years older. Make the age gap smaller. But it could still be about finding love. Nothing wrong with a good love story. Those are cute, those are classic. You just can’t mess with the classics.”

“Just make another movie!” Olivia Cooper ‘25 called out.

“Imagine that someone made Star Wars,” Fernandez continued, “but it’s not in space, it’s in like eastern Arkansas.”

I told her they took out the dwarves. “That’s ridiculous, that’s ridiculous! Snow White and the Seven Dwarves? Is that not the whole premise?”

When asked if she thought it was better that Snow White was a leader, she said, “No, that’s not the story. That’s not the story. It’s a love story. Like, you can’t take the kiss out of “The Kissing Booth!”

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About the Contributors
Ana Iacoviello
Ana Iacoviello, Features Editor
Ana is a junior at Carrollton and the current Features Editor for The Beat. She writes for the Beat to inform her community about important events and to create an outlet for people to voice their opinions. Ana has been in journalism since sophomore year, and was awarded an Honorable Mention in Features writing at the JEA Convention in San Francisco.
Andrea Gianulis
Andrea is a junior and the current Sports Editor for The Beat. She has been involved in journalism since her freshman year and hopes to be able to produce amazing stories that students, faculty, and parents can enjoy.

Comments (6)

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  • M

    Mr. AlkonSep 29, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you for this great article! It is topical and funny, while also raising serious questions about how we interpret works from the past. I must say I found the commments of the Carrollton students to be very sharp and persuasive! Thank you Ana, Andrea, Olivia, Pia, Camilla, and Priscilla!

  • C

    Charlene ChangSep 28, 2023 at 9:34 am

    Thank you for an article well done. I loved reading about what’s upcoming in the world; I didn’t know they were remaking “Snow White” and taking out the dwarfs. What is even more fascinating to me is the interviews of Carrollton girls on the issues presented in the article. Can I just say that I agree with, “Just make another movie!”

  • R

    Ryan RobothamSep 25, 2023 at 9:51 am

    What an awesome read. I was not aware of Disney announcing a remake of this classic. Live action can be hit or miss in my opinion due to details being changed or removed all together that the fans adore. Looking forward to The Beat writing a review if the film actually comes to life . Keep up the good work!

  • L

    Lyana AzanSep 21, 2023 at 11:50 am

    What an interesting piece – thank you! Whenever an updated version of a beloved work appears, there are bound to be those who are upset by this. Personally, I love to compare and contrast the versions – literature is a reflection of our times and tells us much about humanity and its progress or lack thereof.

  • I

    Ineska StojsicSep 21, 2023 at 6:38 am

    Fascinating story. As an admirer of classic fairy tales, I appreciate the view to preserve the original style and aesthetics, but this current version looks interesting. If it’s good, the naysayers will be quelled. I am looking forward to this.

  • N

    Natalie AstigarragaSep 20, 2023 at 3:02 pm

    Thank you for this great reflection! I will be sure to keep these perspectives in mind anytime I watch a Disney remake.