Rachel Zegler Controversy: Cult of Disney Traditionalists Creating Squabble Out of Nothing

In times when the cinema industry is a sinking ship, it seems that the only thing keeping it afloat are remakes of old Disney classics. Whether it’s The Lion King, Titanic, or Snow White. Speaking of which, there is an insane idea circling around the classic 1937 Snow White animated film that it is ‘outdated’. I mean, 1937 was just yesterday, no?

The controversy surrounding this new version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs started getting attention ever since the cast of the film was revealed and it showcased a ‘not-so-fair’ princess to be taking center stage. That’s right, half Polish and half Colombian, Rachel Zegler breaks all the norms of a ‘perfect’ Disney princess. And people are not happy.

Rachel Zegler on Snow White

As if this wasn’t enough, Zegler has managed to anger even those people who were simply waiting for the movie to drop. In the D23 2022 red carpet interview with Extra TV, she deemed the charming prince as a ‘stalker’. Moreover, the 28-year-old star went on to say that the film is outdated and has been reimagined for newer times. 

@officialrubinreport Rachel Zegler, Snow White, says the prince in the original snow white was a stalker and any scene with the man in the new movie might get cut. #disney #snowwhite #rachelzegler #rachelzeglersnowwhite ♬ original sound – Rubin Report

This is not a new thing, and certainly not big enough to be the center of attention for almost every major media outlet. I mean, I have seen entire talk shows on this topic. However, I ask, the same ‘Disney norms’ were broken in the previous live-action remakes as well. Particularly, this year’s The Little Mermaid showcases a strong Ariel who rescues the prince from villainous elements.

A Targeted Campaign?

This targeted campaign against Zegler seems to have deeper roots on social media platforms, particularly TikTok. Furthermore, the clips of Zegler’s interview on social media are chopped up and most of them are without any context whatsoever. Perhaps the traditionalists wish to see a ‘fairer’ princess like Belle from Sleeping Beauty or perhaps it’s a scripted stunt to create hype, we don’t know. What we do know is that a sudden increase in the resurfacing of old interview snippets is a typical form of ‘social media at its worst’ where users simply follow in on a trend to gain popularity by bad-mouthing the individual in the spotlight.


There is something else that Rachel mentioned in her interview with Entertainment Weekly. She spoke of changing the narrative of the 1930s Snow White story, which was more ‘focused on love’ to a newer version that will build upon the Princess’ abilities as a strong woman. Now, is this bad? Definitely not. While the original animated film was a piece of art for its time, and I cannot emphasize it enough, the newer remake could take into consideration the changing landscapes of our social norms. I mean, let’s see what else Snow White can do besides lying there and being good, no?

It’s No Longer 1937!

In a recent interview with Variety, Zegler shed light on the significant changes that Disney is bringing to the original Snow White story. With conviction in her voice, she stressed that ‘it’s no longer 1937,’ underlining the need for an updated narrative that resonates with modern audiences. Zegler is clearly steering Snow White away from the traditional trope of being a damsel in distress saved by a prince. Intriguingly, this vision for the character goes beyond mere revisionism.


She boldly stated that Snow White won’t be pining for true love as in the past. Instead, she’s set to embark on a journey of self-discovery, aspiring to become the leader she knows she can be. This transformation marks a significant departure from the passive, dreamy character we’ve known for generations.

Rachel Zegler vs Social Media

Moreover, Zegler has a way of navigating the turbulent waters of online discourse that can be either charmingly odd or a bit superficial, depending on your perspective. It’s not her first rodeo in the arena of internet fury.

In a particularly dicey incident, she posted a dramatic monologue reading of Britney Spears’ tweets just as the pop sensation was embroiled in a public spat with her younger sister, Jamie Lynn Spears. This move was met with considerable backlash, considering the ongoing #FreeBritney movement and the heightened awareness of the singer’s struggles. Zegler swiftly deleted the video and issued an apology, but the damage was done.

Adding to this, her social media presence has been a hotbed for right-wing virtual brigades. The young West Side Story star waded into the controversy surrounding Halle Bailey’s casting as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, condemning the severe racist backlash. Furthermore, she also did not shy away from expressing her views on Kyle Rittenhouse, referring to him as a ‘racist’ and ‘white supremacist’ on Twitter which fueled the fire.


Forbes notes that on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage deemed the Snow White story as ‘backward’. However, this statement of his was met with open arms and appreciated by several critics. Disney, in response, attempted to quell the brewing storm by emphasizing their commitment to avoiding stereotypes from the original animated film. I don’t see how this statement of Dinklage’s and Disney’s response is different from what Zegler stated in her own awkward manner.

In the Storm’s Eye

Now, any sane person who has read this article so far will question, has this Rachel Zegler issue been blown out of proportion? Well, the answer is yes! The young star is caught up in the storm’s eye for nothing and the band of traditionalists who are talking about the ‘sanctity of classics’ shouldn’t take it out on a young star whose career is in the making. And even if they want to blame someone, they should take it out on Disney which has been using its remakes as cash-grab opportunities. 

So, while the controversy may have ruffled a few feathers, it’s worth pausing to consider whether the tempest in a teapot surrounding Zegler’s remarks truly merits the furor it has generated. In the grand scheme of things, there are more pressing issues to tackle than dissecting the interview demeanor of an actress who, at the end of the day, is simply trying to bring a beloved character to life in a new and meaningful way.

M. Osama Asghar

Osama is an entertainment journalist who takes pride in his research and work. He has been in the industry for over 6 years with an extensive experience in multiple disciplines. Other than writing, he loves to travel and create short travel films.

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