Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Disney)

Why Disney’s Live-Action ‘Snow White’ Remake Is Causing Controversy

Disney’s live-action remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was always going to be controversial due to growing resentment of the studio’s live-action remakes. However, this remake seems to have even more controversies surrounding it than usual, regarding everything from casting to how to appropriately adapt the seven dwarfs.

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Casting Snow White and the Evil Queen

Rachel Zegler, the breakout star of Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, was cast in the lead role of Snow White in January 2022. Immediately, some people complained that Zegler “looked nothing like the character.” Zegler, who is of Polish and Colombian descent, is a light-skinned Latinx actress with dark hair. Maybe it’s her lack of naturally rose-red lips that is the problem? Or her inability to communicate with woodland creatures? In many ways, this argument feels reminiscent of the people who complained about Halle Bailey’s casting as Ariel, due to her not being a “natural” redhead.

Zegler’s comments about it “no longer being 1937” and critiques about the original film’s focus on romance have received similar scrutiny, with some accusing her of hating the film she’s remaking. It should be noted that Emma Watson had shared similar critiques of the source material for her remake of Beauty and the Beast, such as making sure that her version of Belle didn’t wear a corset and addressing accusations that her character was a victim of Stockholm Syndrome.

Honestly, people have been complaining about Snow White for decades and this live-action remake isn’t even the first to turn the character into more of a “girlboss” leader. Disney even did it relatively recently, turning Snow White a thief who leads the rebellion against the Evil Queen in the ABC series Once Upon a Time. It seems strange that so many people are suddenly purists about the character and her motivations.

Some have even weaponized Gal Gadot’s casting as the Evil Queen against Zegler, trying to argue that Snow White is supposed to be “prettier” than the Evil Queen. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but people who think Rachel Zegler isn’t beautiful need to take a look at themselves in the magic mirror.

Gal Gadot’s casting has been similarly controversial, though that’s more due to Gadot’s previously stated thoughts on Palestine. Gadot’s casting may also play into the antisemitism of the original Snow White, as the “ugly” disguise of the Evil Queen plays into many harmful antisemitic stereotypes.

The Seven Dwarfs

Early on in the film’s production, Peter Dinklage voiced dissatisfaction with the stereotypical depiction of dwarfs in Snow White. “You’re progressive in one way, but then you’re still making that fucking backwards story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together, what the fuck are you doing, man?” said Dinklage during an appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. “Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soap box?”

Apparently, Dinklage’s words convinced Disney to change course with the characters, as a recent leaked photo revealed that only one of seven stand-in actors for the film was a little person:

https://twitter.com/Hannahhgracey/status/1681269997954383877

It should be noted that not every actor agrees with Dinklage. Jackass actor Jason “Wee Man” Acuña and wrestler/actor Dylan Postl voiced disappointment over the change.

“These dwarf roles are for people of my stature and now it’s taken away. I don’t feel that’s right,” said Postl in an interview with Piers Morgan. “And not only that, but now think about the additional stunt actors or body doubles or that. Now, you’re talking multiple actors of my statute that don’t get these major roles. And why? What’s the reasoning? Because we’re supposed to be progressive and just not view them as that? These are heroes. All of these dwarfs took care of Snow White. They all had characteristics, separate characteristics. They weren’t these cave dwelling monsters that people speak of. They all had seven different characteristics for seven different actors from my community … And I don’t feel it’s right that that got taken away from us.”

(featured image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)


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Author
Kimberly Terasaki
Kimberly Terasaki is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She has been writing articles for them since 2018, going on 5 years of working with this amazing team. Her interests include Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Horror, intersectional feminism, and fanfiction; some are interests she has held for decades, while others are more recent hobbies. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan.