Disney responds to Dinklage's Snow White criticism: we "have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community"

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Why commit to making the live-action remake at all before they’ve even figured out a non-offensive way to tell the story?

“Disney is happy to announce an upcoming reimagining of the 1946 musical classic Song of the South, updated for contemporary audiences. How will we salvage a heartwarming story out of the original film without reinforcing negative stereotypes? We have no idea but we’re pretty sure we’ll figure something out eventually.”

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Just a reminder that the whole thing about dwarfs as miners comes from how up to the 19th century, miners were often small due to undernourishment and often looked much older than they were due to the harsh conditions of the work. It wasn’t dwarfism as we know it.

Miners were like their lives: nasty, brutish and short.

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Also, not a question: “This is you. Working for us.” (I’m on his side too, but he got paid for doing it, why not seven other guys?)

Ok, that would have been a good place to stop.

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How about if you made your profession as an actor, and the only thing you were ever cast to play was a mythological creature, who was a stereotype of everyone who looked like you, and that when other people looked at you, that’s how they saw you - not as a fully fledged human being, but as a mythical species?

Dinklage is the only actor I know of who has achondroplasia who has managed to rise above that because of years of that kind of stereotyping in media. Even Hervia Villachez played a kind of mythical little person in his major role (Fantasy Island).

It’s really fucking depressing that the dehumanziation of an entire group of people to just ONE characteristic of their physical body is deemed just fine, no matter how much the actors in question push against it. It would be like if we went back to all Black actors being either “happy-go-lucky” enslaved people or servants on screen, or women could only be man-hungry shrews, or Mexican-Americans could only play lazy people, or trans people as only murderers. It’s not acceptable to stereotype people into a single type of role, because that’s now how real human beings are in real life.

I’d think that the people here on the BBS would have more sense than to dismiss people’s concerns about stereotyping, but clearly I was wrong. I’d hoped that people here would be in favor of media that does better by all of us, but clearly, it’s a bridge too far to move beyond stereotypes for people who live their life with a disability.

Sad Regret GIF

Kenan Thompson Reaction GIF by Saturday Night Live

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“We weren’t talking about YOU, we were talking about a fictional race of people who just happen to share the name and defining physical attributes of people who share your condition.”

Yeah, I’m sure it’s just coincidental.

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Yeah it’s a pretty safe bet that Disney DIDN’T talk to the little person community about this.

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They claim they are NOW that Dinklage said what he said. But we’ll see, of course.

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And @Gnagn and @JustGoodSense

Final paragraph of this story…

Dinklage, who made a name for himself with roles like a grieving man in The Station Agent and a pugnacious children’s book publisher in Elf, told NPR in 2012 that he has tried to find roles that upend the stereotypical roles given to actors of his height, even if he hasn’t always been successful.
“You do have to make a living,” he said at the time. “I do not fault anyone else who makes choices to play characters that they wished they hadn’t. … Because at the end of the day, none of us are happy with our jobs all the time.”

It’s not on HIM that the kind of roles he regularly gets NOW weren’t available to him earlier in his career. It’s on our collective inability to treat people who have historically been othered as fully human and it’s on the choices that powerful people in Hollywood make. We all are responsible for making a better, more inclusive society across the board. It’s solely on people who have been historical oppressed.

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To me the essential bits of this godforsaken story are the ones about feminine heroic virtue overcoming misogyny and adversity. So to me the best possible snow white story arc has to include:
maternal betrayal that leads to entry into a different social paradigm including a loss of status/privilege,
which then allows a protagonist to find abilities and strengths that lay dormant and achieve value in a system outside of that which the protagonist originally inhabited,
which then in turn allows the protagonist to overthrow the old paradigm completely and take power over it using wisdom and soft-power rather than traditional force.

Everything else can come or go.

BTW: I do think traditionally “feminine” hero stories should get more play in mass media (and shouldn’t be limited to protagonists that are women either) but I think Vasilisa the Wise makes better source material than Snow White for this.

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I am totally behind Dinklage in this. I suppose it’s my fault for posting without context, but I thought that highlighting the rant he made about being typecast as a mythical being in his very first screen role was both on topic for this discussion and a sad commentary on how the needle has barely budged in the intervening 25 years.

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I agree and I linked to you because of that rant as I think it highlights the point that he’s trying to make (and that I’m trying to further highlight here).

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Kind of like what Hattie McDaniel said about being typecast in the (even more) racist days of early Hollywood: “I’d rather play a maid and make $700 a week than be a maid and make $7.” I’m sure she would have preferred if the industry provided people like her with more inclusive roles but she was playing the card she was dealt.

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Right? And her comments would eventually pave the way for real change. It took a long time, but it came. Maybe we can start making that change happen far sooner rather than having to wait a few decades?

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Oh, I’m with you 100%

When I went down the Tiptoes rabbit hole of “how the fuck did this happen in 2003” the Dinklage quotes I found were running along the lines of “I got to work with Gary Oldman, I didn’t care about the script.” Which the obsessive movie nerd in me 100% respects.

But it also points to whatever clusterfuck that Disney is going do in relation to a live action Snow White is going to do the same thing. It will move forward because no matter what Disney decides, there will be people who will say “I get to work with Disney, I don’t care about the script.”

And that’s thing, if you’re doing a live action remake of Snow White, it’s very nature makes it an exploitation movie. Not realizing that and stumbling ahead is one problem for Disney. The other is going to be focus grouping it to death and presenting the image of “we did our best to make sure there was nothing offensive.” Disney is never going to be honest about the exploitation aspects of a live action remake, when have they ever been honest about stuff like this. So any attempt they make will be fundamentally dishonest. Go watch Steamboat Willie and try to tell me with a straight face that their corporate mascot, Mickey Mouse didn’t start as an animated minstrel show.

And before I rant to much about this, just listen to the You Must Remember This series on Song of the South. Karina Longworth does a much better job of laying out what a trash ass company Disney is then I ever could.

And now that I’m actually ready to send this comment I see that we are all kind of in agreement about this, but I’m going to hit send anyway because you should all listen to the You Must Remember This series, and fuck Disney.

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Fantasy dwarves are not the same thing as human dwarves, regardless of who gets hired to play them. The issue with Snow White is the non-consensual sexual assault played off as fine and good.

No, the whole thing about dwarves as miners comes from Norse mythology, more than 1000 years earlier than the malnourished men of the 19th century.

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People who have anchondronplasia disagree with you, as people have said in this thread over and over again. Peter Dinklage, who is directly impacted by the bigotry that can be ginned up by such negative depictions (which if you’d actually read any of the things he’s said about this, does not include NOT having mythical dwarves depicted at all, but having less stereotypical, bigoted and more humane depictions of them), might know a thing or two about it, given that he’s an actor who has both played those sorts of stereotypical roles AND many other roles that are not such.

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There are NUMEROUS problematic issues in that narrative, not “just one.”

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