Unpacking why TikTok has labelled Disney’s reworked Snow White live-action film as unfeminist

By Charlie Sawyer

Published Aug 9, 2023 at 02:55 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes

I spent a lot of my childhood obsessed with Disney princesses. I wanted Belle’s book collection, Ariel’s hair, and Cinderella’s ability to make besties with mice. Oh, and Snow White, she found herself a man who could quite literally wake her from slumber with a single kiss—that’s impressive.

As I grew up, I began to understand that the Disney princesses were of course incredibly flawed. Women weren’t all flimsy victims who needed to rely on emotionally unavailable men to save them, and they also weren’t all white. No one is denying this.

That being said, there was an air of magic and enchantment rooted in those films that I held close to my heart. I wanted to be a strong and independent woman, but I also wanted to fall hopelessly in love with someone who’d bring me doves and defend my honour—a lot of modern girls want that ok.

Today, we have greater representation within these films, allowing young girls all over the world to enjoy and bask in the beauty that is Disney. It’s undeniable how important films with diverse casting like The Princess and the Frog and the recent The Little Mermaid remake have been to people.

@lizzies_worldview

Wait til the end to see pure LOVE. My favorite Disney memory. My daughter met her favorite princess, Tiana. #wdw #fyp #disneyprincess

♬ My Love Mine All Mine - Mitski
@justhappytears

her reaction is everything🥹❤️ (@callmedarii/TT) #wholesomemoments #thelittlemermaid #blackgirlmagic

♬ Part of Your World - From "The Little Mermaid" - Halle

And now, we have another one on the horizon. It was announced back in 2016 that plans were in the works for a live-action remake of Snow White with Rachel Zegler and Gal Gadot joining the production as the princess and evil queen respectively. Hopes were definitely high when gen Zers first heard about the project—particularly in regard to the increased representation and diversity within the cast—but as time has gone on, the excitement has definitely depleted. And here’s why:

While recently speaking about the film, Zegler stated that the remake will in no way shape or form mirror that of the original film. The actor noted: “It’s no longer 1937 and [Snow White] is not going to be dreaming about 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.”

@moviemaniacs

Rachel Zegler and Gal Gadot on their modern approach to Snow White remake

♬ original sound - Movie Maniacs

Now, TikTok responded to this statement in a way not many might have expected—except of course us gen Zers who saw this video and immediately had an issue with it. Let’s dive into the most important responses.

One of the biggest responses seen online was this idea of women in films not being able to have choices. If they pursue a career and actively prioritise work over love, they’re a feminist icon but if they pursue romance and prioritise a relationship, they’re inherently unfeminist and their story is damaging the fights for women’s rights.

@thechickflicksshow

This is just my opinion though what do yall think, I’d love to hear different opinions #disney #disneyprincess #disneyprincesses #rachelzegler #snowwhite #snowwhiteandthesevendwarfs #snowwhiteandthehuntsman #mirrormirror #snowwhiteremake

♬ original sound - ChickFlicks
@hersay96

Also they said as ig it was original and lifechanging concept. Love and leadership are not mutually exclusive. Dude when #ouat and #thebloodychamber exist #snowwhite2024 #snowwhite #feminism #femenistromance #retelling

♬ original sound - Faith (Taylor’s version)
https://www.tiktok.com/@marshmallowmoney/video/7261065509800529195?lang=en
https://www.tiktok.com/@marshmallowmoney/video/7261065509800529195?lang=en

Disney is about fantasy, and it feels as though we’ve become so wrapped up in trying to run away from the submissive female archetype that we’ve completely lost the actual meaning of feminism. 

@reubenwoodall

#stitch with @Movie Maniacs why make Snow White a girlboss? Let her bake pies in the forest and get a hot boyfriend #snowwhite #disney #feminism

♬ original sound - reuben
@livingminnaly

#stitch with @Rubin Report feminist heroines and role models should be a variety of women, just like women IRL. wanting love is not anti-feminist. #snowwhite #feminism #internalizedmisogony

♬ original sound - minna
https://www.tiktok.com/@amerrierplace/video/7264695441277603118?lang=en&q=snow%20white%20feminism&t=1691574901421

Haven’t we also realised that the idea of a “girl boss” is inherently toxic? Did we not all just watch the Barbie movie and come to the realisation that a woman’s worth isn’t dependent on her ability to be the absolute best at everything?

There are of course some people online who are in full defence of the modern take on Snow White and insist that the film had to take a much different approach to the story due to the current present-day expectations on women and how vastly our lives have changed. 

@arielle.lyons

my hot takes on the rachel zegler snow white situation (also sorry about the watermark and inaccurate captions, it’s a long story lol) #rachelzegler #snowwhite #disney #liveaction #feminism

♬ original sound - arielle :)

Moreover, some creators on TikTok have come out to back Zegler and remind netizens that the actor is not directly responsible for the screenplay and plot of the film, and therefore shouldn’t be the sole target of all the current criticism.

On top of this, Zelger previously made a comment about how: “If I’m gonna stand there 18 hours a day in the dress of an iconic Disney Princess. I deserve to be paid for every hour that it’s streamed online.” The response online was rather vicious, with many chiding the actor for being so demanding and not appreciating those outside of the entertainment industry who work incredibly demanding jobs. That being said of course, many others pointed out how Zegler is only demanding the same thing that thousands of other actors are currently demanding during the ongoing strikes.

@blackteanews

#sag #sagstrike2023 #rachelzegler #disney #disneyplus #snowwhite #actorsstrike2023 #writersstrike

♬ original sound - Black Tea News
https://www.tiktok.com/@briannisss/video/7264634789834050858?lang=en&q=in%20defence%20of%20rachel%20zegler&t=1691588223925

The film is currently due to be released in 2024, and with so much controversy already surrounding production, I’m certain that we’ll be seeing further social commentary and criticism hitting our FYPs soon.

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