Letter to the Editor: Criticisms of Disney overlook popularity of sequels, diversity in animation
April 6, 2023 3:15 p.m.
This post was updated on April 6 at 8:54 p.m..
I would like to respond to your discussion on Disney losing its magic recently. I appreciate and acknowledge your points about losing creativity and problems with representation. However, I would like to bring up some counterexamples, not in an effort to nitpick, but to show that Disney is still producing original content with a variety of representation.
To start, the majority of Disney’s films have original stories. There are currently over 100 Disney films in varying stages of development, and only about one-third of them are related to previously told storylines. Of these sequels and remakes, some can be considered unnecessary, but many are still enjoyable. For instance, the Rotten Tomatoes audience scores for “Incredibles 2” (84%) and “Frozen II” (92%) are higher than the scores of their prequels, with 75% for “The Incredibles” and 85% for “Frozen.” Thus, there are still sequels that live up to their inspirations.
Also, the writer mentioned in the original article that Disney should start “investing in more original stories centered around cultures often overlooked in film,” referencing the remakes of “The Little Mermaid” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” as not being large enough steps toward inclusivity. However, this is only considering live-action movies, which Disney is certainly not known for.
When considering animated movies, Disney has been working on increasing representation and diversity in its features, including “Soul,” “Turning Red,” “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “Luca” – just to name a few in recent years. “Encanto” in particular has stood out from the rest, featuring a multigenerational Colombian family. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards and won Best Animated Feature, and the soundtrack reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200. This is just one example of Disney successfully integrating cultural representation into its original films.
Some of Disney’s movies unfortunately did not have theatrical releases, but with the disruption of the pandemic, it is understandable why these were released on Disney+, which increased accessibility. Transitioning to a post-pandemic world, Disney recently premiered “Strange World” in theaters with the first gay protagonist in a Disney animated film. With all of these films and more, it is evident that Disney is doing its best to embrace diversity and feature a wide variety of populations and groups in society.
There are certainly initiatives Disney could take to increase the quality and diversity of its films, but it is not as bad as it may seem. Disney has been making changes, and hopefully it can continue this in the future.