Did Disney ruin ‘Snow White’ by ‘woke-washing’ it?

Michael Beausoleil
6 min readNov 17, 2023

When it comes to Disney classics, no movie is immune from getting a live-action adaptation. The Jungle Book, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid have already been remade, so it was only a matter of time before Snow White got a modern retelling.

In the modern era, casting and diversity have come into question. When The Lion King was remade, the movie received praise for its casting decisions, especially given the fact that the setting is likely based in Africa. Later, people questioned the casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid for looking different than the animated character — but she ultimately received acclaim for her depiction and led the movie to success.

Snow White’s seven villagers and the Disney logo.

Now Snow White is getting a live-action adaptation, but this one feels different. The production is getting a lot of criticism, and as more information is released, the backlash seems to get worse. It’s sparking accusations of “woke-washing” for making casting choices simply to capitalize on diversity trends. With the controversies and mockery, conversations surrounding the movie have become more political than fantasy.

Snow White gets a Grumpy start

The animated Snow White likely holds a special place in the hearts of Disney fans. It’s the brand’s oldest animated film, originally released in 1937, but the fairy tale predates this. Snow White originated as one of Grimms’ Fairy Tales, which is a bit darker, but the House of Mouse took many creative liberties to help the movie appeal to families.

Given the fact that the live-action remake is being made nearly a century after the original animated film, it shouldn’t be a shocker to see some changes. This starts with efforts to diversify its cast, including casting Rachel Zegler (known for Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story) in the titular role.

Zegler, who is Columbian and Polish, received some backlash because Snow White — who’s originally written to have “skin white as snow” — is no longer “white.” But, this criticism seems unwarranted because Zegler has a fair complexion. She’s also a young Hollywood actress, who recently starred in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, so it makes sense that Disney would want to work with a rising star.

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Michael Beausoleil

User Analytics | Digital & Brand Marketing | Productivity … hoping to explore topics that interest me and find others with similar passions