From the very beginning frame, new Disney musical snickerella offers a lackluster attempt at variety: it simply takes one of the world’s oldest fairy tales and adds black characters and black culture. He then takes it one step further by turning his main character into a Cinderella named El (Jacobs the Chosen One), a young shoe lover who falls in love with the charming princess Kira King (Lexi Underwood). It’s a boring reboot and its young audience deserves so much more.
The twist of Cinderella’s story is this: instead of an evil stepmother and stepsisters, Elle has a terrible stepfather and stepbrothers. He goes with his gay best friend Sami (Devin Nekoda) to buy limited edition sneakers, a journey that leads him to Kira, whose father turns out to be basketball star and sneaker mogul Darius King (John Sully). Transform a pumpkin carriage into a classic car and a fancy ball into a sneaker feast, and before you know it, snickerella effectively restored all the worn-out territory of its predecessor.
That is the problem. The movie is like opening a present on Christmas morning and finding a pair of socks when you really wanted a new phone. Nobody asked for this remake and it ends up being a huge missed opportunity. At a time when Disney could use the wealth of talent at its disposal to create authentic stories that embrace the communities it aims to reflect, it instead offered up one of its oldest stories with some new faces and a few remastered musical numbers. Taking marginalized groups of any kind and inserting them into a narrative that was not created for them is laziness, even if it is done with the best of intentions. And since the movie is on Disney+, the kids who need to see themselves the most may not see it. One of the great things about Disney over the years has been its ability to reach people from all walks of life. Making an expanded view movie and then limiting its availability seems like a step in the wrong direction.
Growing up in the 1990s/early 2000s, I witnessed how Disney cornered the market by making films that everyone could enjoy –cheetah girls, Camp Rock, High School Music School, many of which became successful empires. They continued to make programs fun, interactive, and fresh by adding singing, teaching choreography during commercial breaks, and hosting events such as the Disney Channel Games. From a business standpoint, Disney’s need to keep up with the current streaming wars is understandable, but it still has to create quality content across platforms, which seems to have failed. Like many other companies, Disney invests where there is money to be made, but this may not always bring the greatest benefit.
The company has created several reboots/spin-offs over the past few years, such as House of the Raven; The girl meets the world; High School Musical: Musical: Series; and Proud Family: Louder and Prouder– to name just a few – effectively saying, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” But just because it didn’t break doesn’t mean Disney should keep making reboots and cashing in on nostalgia. He must put all his power into new shows and give them a chance to shine. Disney should be better because they showed us what they can do. The channel that once made us feel like anything is possible should use its shows and films to inspire the next generation of dreamers and big thinkers. Disney has a tutorial for this. The scriptwriters and directors needed for this are already there. All you have to do is lace up and try.
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