Rachel Zegler, the star of Disney’s upcoming live-action Snow White remake, is facing backlash across all corners of the internet after interviews began to circulate showing her repeatedly mocking the classic story and its characters.
Speaking at D23 Expo in September last year, Zegler, a 22-year-old actress whose casting as the girl with “skin as white as snow” had already caused some controversy, argued that Snow White was a dated story that required a revamp.
Zegler said it was “very evident” that the original cartoon “came out in 1937,” as it had “a big focus on her love story, with a guy who literally stalks her,” which Zegler called “weird.”
“We have a different approach to what I’m sure a lot of people will assume is a love story, just because we cast a guy in the movie,” she added. “It’s one of those things that I think everyone’s going to have their assumptions about what it’s actually going to be, but it’s really not about the love story at all, which is really, really wonderful, and whether or not she finds love along the way is anybody’s guess until 2024.”
Zegler went so far as to claim that the scenes with the “prince” may even end up on the cutting room floor.
In other interviews, Zegler recounted how she was “scared” of the original cartoon as a child. She also said that, because it is “no longer 1937,” Snow White is “not going to be saved by the prince and she’s not going to be dreaming about true love,” but instead “dreaming about becoming the leader she knows she can be.”
While Zegler’s apparent disdain for the Snow White franchise initially flew under the radar, the continued circulation of her comments quickly picked up interest on social media as Disney fans grew weary of her remarks.
“If I had to describe Snow White in one word, it would probably be ‘trash’,” quipped TikTok user @emmyrose79, feigning an interview as Zegler in a video that racked up over 100,000 ‘likes.’
Another TikTok user jumped aboard the trend of mimicking Zegler, amassing nearly 8 million views for her parody.
User @sarahklait joked: “I literally hate the movie, I think it’s absolute f**king garbage. This isn’t 1937 and we’re not in a Taylor Swift love song. There is no love story. She’s an independent female lead; she ends up joining a pyramid scheme and she becomes the world’s biggest f**king girlboss.”
Other TikTok users also jumped to use the new meme format, making skits portraying actresses who had been assigned classic tales only to totally re-write them.
One user pretended to be an actress hired to do a Little Bo Peep remake, joking: “[Her] sheep were stolen from her by a man… [and she will] retain her sheep in a much more empowering way.
In another sketch, a user playing the role of an actress hired on to do a Repunzel live action film where the titular character is instead totally bald.
Other women were more serious in their criticism of Zegler, with user @cosywithangie arguing that Zegler’s attack on the original film amounted to “pseudo-feminism” that was detrimental to women.
“Criticising Disney Princesses is not feminist. Not every woman is a leader, not every woman wants to be a leader, not every woman wants or craves power, and that’s okay,” she argued. “It is not anti-feminist to want to fall in love, to want to get married, to want to stay at home, to want to be a homemaker. None of these things make you less valuable as a person or a woman.”
Speaking to the Daily Mail, branding expert Carla Speight warned that Zegler’s comments could severely negatively impact ticket sales of the film.
“Whilst it’s been clear that the original Disney Princess films hold old values, Disney has fallen for the trap of going to the opposite extreme to inflict strong and loaded messaging on the viewers – believing that’s empowerment,” Speight argued.
“There was a time when Disney actors were media trained and were thoughtful about the impact of their words, whilst sticking to key messaging about the films, but it seems with this total rewrite of Snow White, picturing her as a ‘boss girl’ has gone to the heads of their stars,” she continued.
“Disney will need to be careful with how they have portrayed Snow White and what they do and don’t allow their actors to say about it going forwards. They simply cannot repeat the same mistakes and allow their actors to be so vocal in their own personal opinions during promotions,” Speight concluded.