Have you heard? David Hand, the 91-year-old son of one of the co-directors of 1937’s animated Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is this week’s champion du jour of the alt-right, incels, and other gatekeepers from the reactionary right-wing rage-o-sphere. Last week he slammed Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of the classic for lacking “respect” for the original. “It’s a whole different concept, and I just totally disagree with it,” Hand told People Magazine. He called it a “disgrace” that the live-action treatment is “trying to do something new with something that was such a great success earlier.”
“Their thoughts are just so radical now. They change the stories; they change the thought process of the characters. They’re making up new woke things, and I’m just not into any of that,” Hand said.
At issue is Latina star Rachel Zeigler‘s comment that the upcoming musical features Snow White as a “modern woman,” not a teenager as the character was depicted in the Disney animated classic.
In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the princess meets a handsome prince after he overhears her singing in the woods. When her evil stepmother poisons her, he comes along and kisses her to wake her up. Snow White was believed to be as young as 14 in the film, and the Prince much older – around 31. Nothing creepy about that at all, right, Mr. Hand?
“I find it quite frankly a bit insulting … there’s no respect for what Disney and my dad did. I think Walt and he would be turning in their graves.”
No respect for what Disney did? Early Disney princess films have a recurring theme: the power of “true love’s kiss.” In “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” Prince Florian literally brings the protagonist back to life by kissing her. Because Snow White is unconscious and essentially dead during this scene, this kiss could be viewed as non-consensual and assault.
Sharing the scene with children has raised concerns among many parents (including celebrities).
“Don’t you think it’s weird that the prince kisses Snow White without her permission?” actress Kristen Bell recalls asking her young daughters during an interview with Parents.com. “Because you cannot kiss someone if they’re sleeping!”
Do We Want to Defend All of Walt Disney’s Work?
David Hand may be pining away for the old days, before ‘wokeness’ spoiled everything for him and his ilk, but not everyone connected with Walt Disney agrees.
Abigail Disney, the filmmaker grandniece of Walt Disney, weighed in on her uncle several years back, revealing a side to him many choose to ignore. “Anti-Semite? Check. Misogynist? OF COURSE!! Racist? C’mon, he made a film (Jungle Book) about how you should stay ‘with your own kind’ at the height of the fight over segregation! As if the ‘King of the Jungle’ number wasn’t proof enough!!”
This is not the first time Abigail has criticized Walt or the studio he founded.
In a Facebook post on Dec. 12, 2013, she said: “What my family’s business has done is to dumb down and middle-ify and oversimplify (ok, ok DISNEYFY) so much, and while that has brought a lot of pleasure–joy even– to a lot of people who needed it given that life can be hard and pleasure hard to come by, it has also encouraged that most grim and American tendency to gloss over the untidy complexities of life, sometimes at great cost to the lived experiences of many others.”
Walt Disney was notoriously anti-union, and when his animators went on strike for higher pay, he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) out of spite, which led to the blacklisting of many of those figures. Some never worked again.
For the uninitiated, the HUAC was established in 1938 to investigate alleged disloyalty and rebel activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and organizations suspected of having Communist ties. Citizens suspected of having ties to the communist party would be tried in a court of law.
Yes, these are the days David Hand fondly remembers – back when African Americans weren’t even allowed to enter a theater to watch Snow White – before wokeness ruined it all!
The Great Replacement Conspiracy Theory
In reality, this uproar isn’t really about Disney updating the story of Snow White for a modern audience. Other studios have done that repeatedly over the years without little to no controversy. This faux outrage is really about casting a Latina actress for the role and conservatives hiding behind tradition to mask their blatant racism.
When white supremacists marched on Charlottesville in 2017, carrying their tiki torches and chanting ‘you will not replace us,’ it was most of America’s introduction to a dangerous conspiracy theory that disgraced former President Donald Trump and former FOX News anchor Tucker Carlson have since taken mainstream. The Great Replacement conspiracy theory is a white supremacist, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant concept that claims immigrants, Muslims, and other people of color are replacing white people. This operation, the theory goes, is being orchestrated by Jews and other “elites.”
This utter paranoia has wormed its way into our entertainment, where we now find middle-aged (and elderly, apparently) white men defending the white purity of Disney Princesses on the internet.
Of course, in the reality-based community, Ziegler was hired based on her critically acclaimed work in Steven Spielberg‘s West Side Story. Similarly, Halle Bailey was hired for The Little Mermaid because she aced the audition. The aggrieved neckbeards screaming incoherently about ‘racial politics’ seem to overlook the fact that minorities are still way underrepresented in Hollywood. What that means to most sane people is that the industry is finally rectifying that by hiring people based on their talent, not on the whiteness of their skin, as was the practice in David Hand’s day. But Hand, and those rallying around him, can take comfort in knowing most leading roles in films still go to white people.
As the saying goes, equality feels like oppression when you’re accustomed to privilege.