Snow White: Why has the Disney remake provoked controversy?

Disney wanted to gamble … and they created a new version of the “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” movie.


What was wrong with the original Disney “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” Movie?

Okay, I am honestly confused as to why anybody has a problem with the original Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs movie.  So I decided to take some looks at what the complaints are.

It’s also crucial to acknowledge its historical significance as the first full-length animated feature film and its lasting impact on the animation industry.

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Gender roles

The first item people have against the movie has to do with traditional gender roles.  Snow White in the original Grimm’s Fairy Tale is a teenager, around 15 years of age.  In the movie, she is depicted as a bit older, around the age of 16 to 20, a young woman right around the age she would get married back in the 1930s.  Snow White is depicted as passive, naive, and dependent on the male characters for her survival.

Okay, let’s think about this for a minute.  You have a 15 year old girl who is running away from home.  Even if she is 18 years old, that is still young.  What kind of jobs could a girl that age get during the 1800s or even 1930s?  Cleaning houses.  Working in a factory.

But a young woman would NEVER have worked in the mines as the seven dwarfs did.  Where would she live?  Would she build a house by herself?  Even in 2023, the number of woman who can physically build a house by themselves is very few.  She could not go to the city and find a job, because her step-mother was the queen and she wanted her dead.

So the seven dwarfs offered her a job.  She cooked and cleaned their house, and in exchange, she was provided room and board.  In 2023, there are over 53,586 maids currently employed in the United States. 84.8% of all maids are women, while 15.2% are men. The average maid age is 48 years old.  So in this area, things have not really changed.  It is not good or bad.  It is just a fact of life.

The Evil Queen

The second complaint is that the Evil Queen is transformed into an old hag.  In the original story, the queen was forced to put on enchanted shoes and she was forced to dance until she died.  But what would happen today to a step-mother that tried three times to kill her step-daughter?

In today’s society, they usually end up in jail for a very long time.  Even within the prison environment, people do not like people who hurt children.  So if the person even survives to old age, she will not be a beauty.  Prison life has a way of doing that to a person.

Lack of racial diversity

The third complaint is that they are all white characters.  Okay, changing the seven dwarfs to be other ethnic groups is not a big deal.  But again, why can’t they still be dwarfs?


The fourth complaint was about the romantic relationship between the prince and Snow White.  Well, that existed in the original story as well.  The seven dwarfs thought that Snow White was very beautiful, so they put her into a glass coffin, so they can always look at her.

But in the original story, there was no “kiss to wake her up”.  The prince asked that he could take the glass coffin back to the castle, so he could always look at Snow White.  Which, besides the whole relationship only being based on beauty, it is really creepy to have a coffin in your living room.  I personally think that it is also creepy when people have an urn with ashes on their fireplace mantel.

Getting sidetracked.  In the original story, as the seven dwarfs were helping to carry the coffin to the castle, they dropped the coffin (poor Snow White … being treated as a piece of luggage) … the dropped coffin, hit a tree, broke open, and the piece of poison apple broke loose from her throat.

Yea, the Seven Dwarfs, with all their magic, did not know the Heimlich maneuver.  Although the Heimlich maneuver was invented in 1974, so we can’t blame Grimm or Disney in 1930 for not knowing that the Heimlich maneuver would have saved Snow White’s life without requiring her to be dropped like a piece of luggage or get a “kiss” to wake her up.

Animal cruelty???

The fifth complaint – people complain about cruel treatment to animals, because they are hunting animals.  But the animals helping Snow White with the housework (working without pay) was not a problem??  Whatever.

The dwarfs were….dwarfs

And the biggie complaint is with the dwarfs and stereotypes of the dwarfs.  Doc is a father figure.  Sleepy is always falling asleep.  Dopey is portrayed as being stupid.  Grumpy is always angry.  Happy is always happy.  Bashful is shy.  Sneezy is always snoring.  Okay, I can see Dopey as being offensive, but the rest of them … all represent parts of everybody’s personality.

But even so, why would taking away the personalities of the seven dwarfs have to do with them being dwarfs as being offensive?  Why are they now adult magical creatures?

In the context of the original fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm and the subsequent Disney animated film, the seven dwarfs are depicted as kind-hearted, endearing, and industrious characters who befriend Snow White and offer her shelter and support. They have their distinct personalities and traits, making them memorable and beloved figures in the story.

“Some critics have raised concerns about the portrayal of the dwarfs being based on certain physical stereotypes or caricatures, which can perpetuate misconceptions or negative attitudes towards people with dwarfism in the real world.”

Okay … it is called acting.  It is called a fictional story.  It is called the world of fantasy.

Dwarfism does not have any set standard, just as there is not a set standard for “normal-sized people”.  In a majority of dwarfs, their head is the size of an adult head and their body is short legs and short arms.

Disproportionate dwarfism is characterized by an average-size torso and shorter arms and legs or a shortened trunk with longer limbs.

In proportionate dwarfism, the body parts are in proportion but shortened.

There are even cases where a person looks like the normal size of an 8 year old, but is an adult.  In other words, the person has an 8 year old sized head instead of an adult sized head.

But none of this answers the question of why portraying dwarfs as dwarfs was wrong.  Why is changing the characters to be adults, but yet still have all of these different personalities (plus some new ones, aka Gay Person) now okay, because they are not dwarfs?

One actor with dwarfism says it is great that these characters are not dwarfs.  But another character says, “Now 7 dwarf actors are out of a job in a major motion picture that could have the potential to jump start their acting careers.”

If I have to pick a side, I go for the side of the 7 dwarf actors who lost a major acting opportunity, so those jobs could now be given to regular-sized adults who have a much larger selection of movies to act in.

And if you are interested in reading the original story, here you go: “Snowdrop“.

Mark Roberts is a freelance writer and tech enthusiast based in San Diego, specializing in internet security, Roku guides, cord-cutting, and more.

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