Debate:Are media companies like Disney sincere with diversity?

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Information icon.svg This debate was created by Blake Gripling.


I've seen a lot of arguments and/or debates both in favour and against Disney's recent move towards diversity and inclusivity, particularly that of their controversial decision to cast ethnic minorities in traditionally White roles such as with Halle Bailey as Princess Ariel in The Little Mermaid, and more egregiously Latina actress Rachel Zegler in Snow White due to her ethnicity clashing with the fairy tale's plot, not to mention the apparent omission of the Seven Dwarfs due to what was seen by some as virtue signalling by Peter Dinklage who felt that the characters portray an outdated and ableist stereotype of little people.

While I agree that a portion of the criticism was done out of racist grounds e.g. calling Bailey's character a "nigmaid" by edgelord trolls whom the actress has since tried to ignore, I personally think that, given Disney and other media conglomerates' shady business practices, these "diversity" moves are more for publicity's sake i.e. a form of shockvertisingWikipedia than out of the kindness of their heart and as a move to better uplift the status of ethnic minorities and marginalised groups. For one, Disney and other Hollywood studios pander to authoritarian governments as they have been known to edit movie releases in certain regions e.g. omit scenes showing overt or subtle LGBTQ+ themes or incorporate and/ore remove certain references to be in compliant with government policies to avert a ban or two, not to mention that they were caught red-handed funding GOP politicos who are proposing towards homophobic legislation. One Black blogger provided a more nuanced opinion where they stated that they're glad to see a Disney Princess character representing the African diaspora, but at the same time they criticised Disney for callously ignoring the more serious issues associated with the film's 18th century Caribbean setting e.g. slavery.

To sum it up, is Disney doing it right or do they deserve flak for further polarising society and making poor pawns out of POC actors? Blakegripling ph (talk) 01:08, 22 June 2023 (UTC)

Hum, interesting takes. A few ideas: Some people believe that Disney movies have been flopping because they're "woke". While this can be true to some extent, I'd say that the reason is because the stories are bad, not because the movies are diverse or whatever. Nonetheless, while I think Disney does believe that diversity is a good thing, they are doing it wrong. There are African stories and fairy tales that could be adapted into movies, and I think the public would accept them better than The Little Mermaid, an European story that we all grew up watching (though, granted, The Woman KingWikipedia also underperformed last year in the box office). There are a few other things that I'd like to mention, but I'm in a hurry right now. GeeJayKWhere all evil dwells Where every lie is true 12:07, 21 June 2023 (UTC)
Precisely my point. While I do admire that the Filipino community and diaspora has seen increased recognition over the years, case in point the CEO of sex himself Jacob Batalon in the recent Spider-Man movies and the character of Mateo in Superstore taking the mick out of Rodrigo Duterte for one, it still bites that a LOT of folk tales from the Philippines and elsewhere are overlooked. Promoting them as well as them African tales you mentioned would do a better job of uplifting other ethnicities rather than half-heartedly shoehorning a Black person in a white man's story and expect everything to be fine and dandy. Hell, the way I see it, Disney's actions with The Little Mermaid and Snow White only serves more to incentivise more bigotry and racism than to actually promote diversity. Blakegripling ph (talk) 01:08, 22 June 2023 (UTC)
Yeah, and I don't think the press is helping either. I've seen people blaming China and South Korea for the backlash, for instance. GeeJayKWhere all evil dwells Where every lie is true 13:53, 21 June 2023 (UTC)
Despite all the "woke" shit by online agitators, from what I can tell these live action remakes have done well sales wise. I'm guessing honestly most people don't really care all that much. Disney is not a European or American exclusive company, it is an international one, so if I had to guess, a touch of the "tokenism" is nods to international box (but who knows if it even works). A little bit of this is probably simply the American acting community is becoming more diverse, American "melting pot" style, anyways. (Take Rachel Zegler, she is only half Latina -- her father is Polish.) They also have vested IP so I'm guessing some of the reason for the reboots is just to use some of this old IP, it's less risky than new stories I suppose. (They release a lot of other stuff aside from the live action reboots, after all.)
Generally speaking, Hollywood used to work "the other way", putting darker skinned Europeans like Italians in Native American roles and sometimes putting white actors in Asian roles. From a modern perspective old movies that do this often look ridiculous (one notoriously awful example is John Wayne as Genghis Khan), but it's what "worked" for the time I guess (well, except when it didn't, The Conqueror failed miserably even then). Most Disney stories are bastardized for family entertainment value (e.g. there's some significant differences between the movie Snow White and the Brothers Grimm tale). So I don't think purity tests apply here, it's a Disney family flick. The main question in my mind is "does it work or does it look ridiculous?" I don't know, haven't watched any of them. But the box office of the remakes seems good, particularly for a "recylced IP" product. 4Chan racist troll takes of course can't be trusted here.
That being said, I agree that it would be very nice if they used more folklore from non-European sources. BobJohnson (talk) 14:34, 21 June 2023 (UTC)
@BobJohnson I'd say that the latest movies did flop. Pinocchio and Peter Panwere released on D+ and were panned by the critics and the public. The Little Mermaid got more mixed-to-positive reviews, and has grossed over 400 million dollars worldwide, which looks like a lot... if the movie didn't cost 250 million. Now, as I said, I don't think it's fair to blame "wokeness" for these bad results. It might be one of the causes, but it's not the main one IMO. I think they're just bad movies overall. Same with The Rings of Power, which received some. backlash for similar reasons GeeJayKWhere all evil dwells Where every lie is true 20:34, 21 June 2023 (UTC)
For Little Mermaid, "eight highest grossing movie of 2023" (so far) and "flop" are... incompatible sentences. A flop is more like John CarterWikipedia or The Lone RangeWikipedia, whose sales were middling and even now have only barely recapped its production budget (meaning Disney ate the marketing budget in both cases). I don't think all the "live action reboots" have done well, but a large amount have. The issue I've seen online is that too many online dwellers (of that sort of type) seem to be eager to shoehorn a narrative that "going woke" means "going broke", so they're going to twist narratives and make it sound like Little Mermaid is a complete failure. Let's be honest: if you're not making money with the 8th highest grossing movie of 2023 (so far), the top problem is not "woke", the top problem is that obscenely high $250 million budget.
And yeah, I don't know too much about these films per se, but the "live action reboot" idea just sounds lazy to me, so I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of them weren't that great. BobJohnson (talk) 21:08, 21 June 2023 (UTC)
Yeah, I agree that the budget is part of the problem, far more than "wokeness". But some of these Disney remakes have profited a lot since they first started this trend in... 2010? I think the first one was Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, which grossed over a billion in a time it was far less common than it is today (even if today it's not as common as it used to be before the Pandemic Era). Indeed, many of these remakes grossed over a billion, so one could expect that The Little Mermaid would gross, say, 800 million at least. But in the end we seem to agree that the problem of these movies include plot, poor CGI, etc. Diversity doesn't seem to be the main problem here. GeeJayKWhere all evil dwells Where every lie is true 21:27, 21 June 2023 (UTC)
I agree, diversity isn't a problem per se, but rather its execution. As I said earlier some of this race-swapping could be even more racist than the racism they pledge to stamp out, like with how Ariel in the remake was portrayed, seemingly glossing over the shit Halle Bailey's character may have experienced as a Black ex-mermaid. I personally don't mind a Black Cinderella or anything for that matter, but if it was done with the tacit intent of manufactroversy, that's where things go haywire. Blakegripling ph (talk) 01:08, 22 June 2023 (UTC)
On the topic of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, the sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass released 6 years flopped, making 299 million against a 170 mil budget. 2607:FB90:F235:4BC6:3C01:92D9:7145:E7CD (talk) 08:16, 5 July 2023 (UTC)

Bumped and edited my question to drive further discussion. Blakegripling ph (talk) 06:48, 5 July 2023 (UTC)