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Disney has built an empire on the fairy tale princesses they've created, but one of the new princesses has an issue with the original. In a recent interview, Kristen Bell reveals that when her children hear the story of Snow White, she has to talk to them about it so they don't walk away with a bad message. The main issue comes from the fact that Snow White just doesn't ask a lot of questions. According to Bell...
Every time we close Snow White I look at my girls and ask, 'Don't you think it's weird that Snow White didn't ask the old witch why she needed to eat the apple? Or where she got that apple?' I say, 'I would never take food from a stranger, would you?' And my kids are like, 'No!' And I'm like, 'Okay, I'm doing something right.
It's difficult to argue that, when it comes to agency, Snow White doesn't have much. The entire Disney version of the story, which appears to be version Bell is reading to her kids, sees the plot happen to Snow without the character actually doing much on her own. She would have certainly been killed by the Huntsman if he hadn't had a change of heart and told her to run. She falls asleep because some random old woman shows up and gives her an apple to eat. Even in a happy fantasy land that seems a bit too trusting.
Of course, not taking food from strangers isn't the only lesson that Kristen Bell tries to teach her children using Snow White. She tells Parents that there's also an important question of consent that needs to be dealt with. As she asks her kids...
Don't you think that it's weird that the prince kisses Snow White without her permission? Because you can not kiss someone if they're sleeping!
This is the second time this week that we've heard about an actress with a Disney history having issues with Disney material. Keira Knightley recently spoke about the fact that movies like Cinderella and The Little Mermaid are banned in her house because she doesn't want her daughter taking the wrong lessons from them. Bell has taken a slightly different approach. She doesn't seem to have an issue with her kids being exposed to the problematic stories, she just makes sure that they are discussed so the kids understand them properly.
Kristen Bell's issues with Snow White just reinforce the fact that, while the classic Disney stories will never die, they haven't necessarily aged well, and looking at them with a modern eye is necessary. They can still be great stories, but they should be put in context.
Kristen Bell, of course, is a Disney princess herself, having played Anna in Frozen, a character who was designed very much as a deconstruction of the classic princess like Snow White.
Interestingly, Anna from Frozen and Snow White will actually share the screen next month when they appear together in Ralph Breaks the Internet. We'll have to wait and see how these very different princesses interact.