Monday, July 31, 2023

A streak of terrible remakes

Madeleine Kearns on "How to Ruin a Fairy Tale":
.... Like all fairy tales, the story of Snow White communicates certain timeless moral messages: the destructiveness of vanity; the evil of envy; the virtues of kindness, gentleness, and hard work; the triumph of good over evil, love over hate. What it doesn’t communicate is our more modern priorities and sensibilities, such as defeating the patriarchy and being sensitive to minority groups.

These omissions appear to be what filmmakers seek to rectify in the new live-action remake of Snow White, coming to theaters next year. Rachel Zegler, who plays Snow White, said in a resurfaced interview from 2022 that Snow White is “not going to be saved by the prince and she’s not going to be dreaming about true love.” Rather, she’ll be “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 was fearless, fair, brave, and true.”

The attempt to mix things up is also evident in the casting. Snow White is named thus on account of her “skin as white as snow.” Zegler, meanwhile, is tanned. This is sort of like having Little Red Riding Hood appear in a blue baseball cap or having a brunette play Goldilocks. And in service of what point, exactly?

The seven dwarves, meanwhile, have been reimagined as “magical creatures.” Disney explained that it consulted with members of the dwarfism community and wanted to “avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film.” This is one of those situations where you can’t win. Cast people with dwarfism as the seven dwarves and you’re stereotyping. Cast people of a normal height (then make them look shorter through CGI, as was done in Snow White and the Huntsmen in 2012), and you’re insulting those with the condition through appropriation. Alternatively, remove the focus from dwarfism entirely — as in this case — and you’re erasing the disability altogether. Better, then, to just stick with the seven dwarves, and cast the best actors for the roles. .... (more)
Madeleine Kearns, "How to Ruin a Fairy Tale," National Review, July 30, 2023.

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