Snow White: How a review of a theme park ride ignited a debate about consent in classic Disney movies

·2-min read
 (DIsney)
(DIsney)

Disney’s Snow White is at the centre of a heated public debate around consent stemming from its famous kiss scene.

The controversy arose from a Disneyland review on the website SFGate, in which the reviewers discuss the recently revamped ride Snow White’s Enchanted Wish. Mimicking the animated classic, the ride ends with the animatronic princess being kissed by her prince as she sleeps to awake her from her poisoned slumber.

In the review, titled “Disneyland’s new Snow White ride adds magic, but also a new problem”, writers Katie Dowd and Julie Tremaine suggested that the kiss was unacceptable and should have been removed from the ride. Last year, Disney removed “problematic” elements of the Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise attractions in response to a petition.

“A kiss he gives to her without her consent, while she’s asleep, which cannot possibly be true love if only one person knows it’s happening,” the review reads.

“Haven’t we already agreed that consent in early Disney movies is a major issue?... It’s hard to understand why the Disneyland of 2021 would choose to add a scene with such old fashioned ideas of what a man is allowed to do to a woman.”

The review went viral online, prompting debate among Disney fans, with some calling for a reassessment of outdated material in the company’s old movies, including Snow White.

Some felt it was ridiculous to apply modern standards of acceptability to an animated film from 1937, claiming that the world had “gone mad” and that this was reflective of “woke” or “cancel culture”.

“Prince Charming believed Snow White was dead. It is entirely normal for a loved one to kiss a deceased person goodbye, and never once have they been able to gain that persons consent...” one tweet read.

However, others pointed out that Snow White does not consent to the kiss in the scene and that while it may feel trivial, it is important to educate children about consent from a young age.

Many also stated that the issue was being blown out of proportion via social media.

During a heated debate on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday (5 May), dating historian Nichi Hodgson argued that Disney had to take responsibility for including the kiss in the story, while relationship therapist Emiliana Silvestri said that it was down to parents, not the company, to explain what did and didn’t constitute consent.

“Sexual predators have not been influenced by Snow White,” Silvestri argued.

Disney has acknowledged harmful or problematic content in some of its older films before. The company currently features disclaimers before some of its classic films on the Disney Plus streaming site, alerting viewers to the presence of harmful racist stereotypes in films such as The Aristocats and Dumbo.

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