Snow White and the Seven Fantastical Beings?

Today, I am turning my blog over to fellow Substack columnist Erin Geary. I was going to post something about the new Snow White monstrosity The Walt Disney Company is planning on releasing soon, but when I read Erin’s commentary below, I decided she has said it better than I could. Snow White will never be the same. Take a look.

After everything else Disney has ruined, now it’s poisoning a masterpiece.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” —Corinthians 13:13

The Walt Disney Company is far from the vision Walt and Roy had when they began in 1923. When they created their own company in California, they had already been burned by Universal, had to cut their losses, and had to start over. As with any business, there were highs and lows. But one thing remained clear: They wanted to make cartoons, TV shows, and films that family members of any age could savor together. Beyond the characters of Mickey Mouse and friends, Walt and Roy’s ventures relied heavily on classics from writers like the Grimm brothers, A.A. Milne, and Jules Verne. Adventure, coming of age, and love conquering evil were repeated themes.

It is within this context that we see why today’s Disney is being battered. After ridding itself of family-friendly content in its films and programming, its most recent movies have lost $900 million, its Disney+ streaming service lost 4 million subscribers, and its theme parks have lost attendance. Yet, they have dug in their heels to the ire of stockholders.

The next film being promoted is a live-version remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Based on the Brothers Grimm tale, the original was a full-length cartoon that took artists over 3 years to make at a cost of $1.5 million. In 1937, that was a huge amount of money and an even larger risk to the life of the studio. But it was a gamble that paid off. Even during the Great Depression, the movie earned $8 million in its first release.

Why was it so popular? It was a perfect combination of storytelling, music, and artistry. Talking pictures were still relatively new. So to have an animated color feature with sound was an astounding feat that appealed to children and adults alike. Snow White is a masterpiece.

And, alas, masterpieces shouldn’t be messed with. Citizen KaneCasablanca, and Gone With the Wind have never been remade for a reason. It would be like taking a chisel to Michelangelo’s David to appeal to the transgender community.

What is happening even before the release of Snow White’s remake is mangled public relations associated with the seven dwarfs, who are no longer dwarfs but “fantastical beings.” First and foremost, Disney doesn’t want to have anyone think that dwarfs are only men. Second, Disney doesn’t want dwarfism to be viewed as a circus sideshow. Lastly, Disney’s fantastical beings must represent all because that’s how movies are today. But this is only the start of the Disney PR disaster.

Photo: World of Reel

Major damage is being done by the upstart, lead actress Rachel Zegler. If you’ve never heard of her, she played Maria in Steven Spielberg’s flop remake of West Side Story. You think that may have humbled Zegler, but actors are never humble—especially after winning a Golden Globe. Her ridiculous comments about Snow White’s need for a modern twist are undercutting its promotion.

When speaking of this cutting-edge version, she said, “I just mean that it’s no longer 1937. She’s not going to be saved by the prince, and she’s not going to be dreaming about true love. She’s dreaming about becoming the leader she knows she can be and the leader that her late father told her that she could be if she were fearless, fair, brave, and true.” Well, this sounds like a really engaging version of a classic. Perhaps instead of a true love’s kiss, they will use the original story as guidance to awaken Snow White—a “dead” Snow White gets dropped and that dislodges the poisoned apple from her throat.

As Zegler continues her PR tour, she claims that the cartoon version did not show women’s full potential, and the love story centers on a prince who “stalks” Snow White. Rest assured; rumor has it that there will be no Prince Charming in the movie. Instead, his character will be replaced by a new character named Jonathan. Rejoice! The stalker prince has been canceled.

Between Zegler and the “leaked” picture of the fantastical beings, they are becoming wrecking balls for a movie that hasn’t even been released yet. And the negative reactions to this train wreck are valid. For this controversy goes beyond a movie. Instead, Snow White is breaking the glass coffin of tradition.

For one thing, I’m sure I’m dating myself here, but what’s wrong with true love? Love and marriage used to be the backbone of civil society. Marriage was the foundation for having children. And, believe it or not, there used to be a time when having children out of wedlock would have caused family embarrassment and shame. A child needed to have his/her father’s last name to make it in the world. Yes, times have changed. We have so much more compassion today, as seen by the use of Safe Haven Baby Boxes at fire stations.

Nevertheless, I hope we don’t see the day when Disney princesses get abortions to become the leaders they know they can be. But would it really be surprising at this point? In addition, something tells me that if Snow White fell in love with Sleeping Beauty, critics would cheer and true love would no longer be chided.

Furthermore, because of her ignorance, Zegler needs to open a classic movie vault and do some binge-watching. Not all old films had a damsel in distress nor were actresses of the past weak.

For instance, Katherine Hepburn bought the rights to the play The Philadelphia Story, which was released as a film in 1940. The movie was not timid about discussions of philandering, paparazzi, accepting human weakness, social classes, and, yes, true love. Not only was Hepburn involved on the business end of purchasing a project to enhance her career, the film itself discussed the very same things we continue to discuss today.

An edgier film with Ginger Rogers and David Niven was called Bachelor Mother (1939). It centered on a newly unemployed single woman named Polly who discovers an abandoned baby, and people mistake it for her own. She hesitantly takes on the responsibility of raising it in order to get her job back. There are many high jinks and mistaken identities. But in the end, of course, Polly winds up with David Merlin (David Niven) because they both matured, accepted responsibility, and fell in love.

Keep in mind the stigma that accompanied “bastard” children at that time. The original script had Rogers’s character as the real mother, but that was a bit too forward. So a slight reworking of the script was needed. However, the fact that this subject was even raised AND the male love interest becomes a stand-up guy is what makes this 1930s film endearing. This was Rogers’s first movie on her own without Fred Astaire, and it was a success.

So, there were movies being made about social causes back in the day. But Disney cartoons based on Brothers Grimm shouldn’t have been, nor was one. Just as it shouldn’t be now. Not every movie made has to awaken social consciousness.

Love is always a great theme for a movie. Let’s not forget the sweet romances in films of the 1990s and 2000s: Notting HillPretty WomanTitanicForest GumpCluelessSleepless in SeattleYou’ve Got Mail, The Princess Diaries, Legally Blonde, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, 10 Things I Hate About You, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, etcALL had strong, independent female leads who found their matches without changing their authentic selves. Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You were well-done, updated remakes of Jane Austen and Shakespeare’s plots, recreated in modern settings.

But to completely alter a Grimms’ tale, keeping it in the same time period as the original story but adding 2023 sensibilities in order to be equitable and progressive, is absurd. They could have made an updated version of the story set in 2023, but that would require too much imagination and thought. Besides, Disney had already done that with Enchanted, and it was great. But to do a 2023 version of Snow White would have meant a loss in merchandising sales of Snow White dolls and costumes.

Photo: World of Reel

By the way, what is wrong with women who long for love, marriage, and kids? Believe it or not, there are women who enjoy staying at home and raising a family, and it’s not 1937. Feminism is about choices.

Equally, there is nothing wrong with little girls emulating Disney princesses. They are kind and brave. Isn’t that what we are all asked to be? Even Zegler posted pictures of herself as a child wearing a Snow White princess dress. Now she trashes the original film, thinking she is doing Disney a favor to boost the new version. Man, she is giving Dylan Mulvaney quite the competition as the worst brand ambassador ever!

Furthermore, if Disney is trying to end the idea of true love and marrying a prince in order to support independent women in leadership, perhaps they can explain why almost 30 million Americans watched Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding. Gosh, it must’ve been a fluke for so many to awaken at an ungodly hour, turn on their TVs, and suddenly see a royal wedding in progress.

Feminist spins be damned! If you desire to create your own plots of young women who choose to stay single to become great leaders, write one. This is all about using an already-known title to reap profits at theaters, even though the story is nothing close to the original. Why take an iconic film that launched the Disney brand to stratospheric heights and treat it like rubbish? It’s as if studio heads are attempting to kill The Walt Disney Company with their own poisoned apples.

We’ll have to wait until 2024 to see if the public will approve of a completely altered version of Snow White. Until then, Rachel Zegler will continue to tearfully discuss the dichotomy of her difficult, lonely life while at the same time thanking family, friends, and an “incredible boyfriend that [she] loves so much” (true love?) for their support as she makes millions.

But is Zegler THE evil queen in all of this mess? She’s certainly not helping herself or Disney. But the real evildoer is Disney. For they have once again defecated on their core audience and are caving to outside social pressures.

None of this is fearless, fair, brave, and true.

You can see more of Erin Geary’s Substack posts here:

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About Ronald E. Yates

Ronald E. Yates is an award-winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. Read More About Ron Here

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