Live-action remakes: Beauties or Beasts?

Disney recycles family classics, provoking outrage from fans

Kenedee Henry, Editorials Editor

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For generations upon generations, families have crowded unto couches and into cinemas, enticed by, and eventually submerged
in, the pixie dust that seems to surround all of Disney’s animated classics. Each carefully etched character reflects a portrait of us, of our humanity and hardships, whether we are navigating uncharted waters like Moana, or denying the dizzying effects of love like Meg. Of course, other cartoon movies have taught us to dream and discover, but very few have been able to entice such wistful emotions from such a wide audience. And almost none have been able to humanize everyday objects as well as Disney has, burdening items like sporks with quirky human characteristics like addictions to garbage (Truly, I challenge anyone to name a more bizarre and emotionally manipulative storyline than the one found in Toy Story 4…I will gladly give you my last brain cell).

There’s no denying it; Disney has simply mastered movie magic. However, for many children-at-heart, this magic is now being stripped away by cheaply produced and poorly planned live action remakes. Instead of crafting contemporary characters, or spinning new threads into classic fairy tales, Disney will spend the next decade recycling classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, 101 Dalmatians, and most controversially cast, The Little Mermaid. Unlike the 1990’s, a golden era that introduced Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, and Mulan to the Disney cinematic universe, early twenty-first century children will not be able to comprehend the joy of exiting the theatre with a familiar whistle on their tongues and a dazzling, unfamiliar story in their hearts.

Surely, there must be a reason for this era of repeats, a reason that justifies Disney’s decision to recycle old material. Unfortunately, not a real one. Far from being deemed “justifiable”, the rationale behind these trivial adaptations is a tale as old as time itself: Walt Disney has begun operating its company like Wall Street. Instead of relying on their previous formula of imagination and creation, Disney has opted to blatantly abuse the nostalgia of its former child audience, recognizing from the success of past remakes like Cinderella that its fans are ravenous for more family-friendly content. No bylaw exists stating that the production company must re-release content to maintain their copyright, nor does there live a
passage of the creator’s will requesting that Beyonce one day voice act as a hyper-realistic lion.

For Disney, the profit is enough; tales of princesses with visions of glory and valor just take too much time to produce. A northern light in a sea of dim, discounted rereleases, however, Mulan’s live-action unveiling has the promise to return honor to the downtrodden franchise. Free of dragons, musical numbers, and most significantly, Li Shang, the 2020 action movie makes an oath to tread a new path from the animated classic and return to its roots. If the remakes are a necessity, this is how they ought to be handled, altering the lack of progressive material located in their source whilst preserving the sanctity of the original. Otherwise, I fear the pixie dust will be faded out forever more.