Rewriting the past: Disney’s “Snow White” casting controversy

By Madi Whiteley / Photography Editor 

After the amount of backlash that Disney received for casting Halle Bailey as Ariel in “The Little Mermaid,” a lot of people thought that Disney would go back to casting based on the original movies. 

Instead, Disney continues to employ a more diverse cast by choosing Latina actress Rachel Zegler for the titular role in “Snow White,” set to release worldwide March 22, 2024.

The other twist is there are no dwarves and instead there are seven magical creatures. Looking at these changes, it makes people wonder what other motives Disney might have in changing the movies.

Despite the backlash of Disney’s casting choice, many people have backed Zegler, including Halle Bailey. 

“We love you so much,” Bailey said on Twitter, “Truly the perfect princess.”

Junior Caroline Murphy said, “I think it’s great that Disney wants to include more diversity amongst casts, but I also find it hypocritical that Disney is removing the dwarfs, when that is also removing the chance to hire actors with dwarfism and show a different side of representation.”

“They’re missing an opportunity to spread diversity in favor of being ‘woke’,” said sophomore Annie Downey.

West Side Story's Rachel Zegler to play live-action Snow White |

Rachel Zegler next to the original “Snow White.” Photo Credit: Niko Tavernise

On one hand, Disney is slowly making its casting choices more diverse, but on the other, it seems that they are also leaving out an opportunity to be even more inclusive by hiring actors that have been diagnosed with dwarfism. 

Junior Kelly Aquino said, “I’m glad that they’re having more diversity in the movies, but I feel like at this point, they’re exploiting people of color and trying to cover up past mistakes.”

Many members of the Harpeth Hall community believe Disney’s casting and ideas are not well-intentioned at the moment. While many think Disney just wants to be more diverse, some question what does Disney get in return for its actions?

Traditionally, many of Disney’s movies cater to white audiences, which can lead minority groups to feel underrepresented. Disney has the licenses, the storylines and the ideas from previous movies, so they could be remaking old films to attempt to appease historically marginalized people.

Besides wanting to cater to a broader audience, the new movie has generated lots of publicity and PR due to minor changes in casting and the movie’s title. Appealing to minorities with remakes also allows for more profit, and additionally critics might buy a ticket just to say they did not like the film.

Zegler has said that she wants to give a modern edge to the story by showing it is not 1937 anymore. Snow White will not be saved by a prince, and she dreams of becoming a leader, not a wife. 

Because of this, many people believe that it takes an anti-feminist tone and shames women who want to take on more traditional roles. Critics also believe that with the amount of changes Disney has made to the film, the brand should just create an entirely new princess movie instead. 

It is too early to tell what Disney’s true intentions are with this remake and those to come, seeing how there is still no teaser for “Snow White” possibly due to the current SAG-AFTRA Strike. But with what Zegler said, could it be possible that Disney’s goal is to rewrite the past with their remakes? 

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