Fox News has found a new battleground in its persistent culture war against the forces of progressive “wokeness” as they refer to what more enlightened Americans regard as consideration and respect for the feelings and sensibilities of people besides themselves.
Their latest target emerges as many of the cultural touchstones of American society undergo a re-examination in the light of modern values and are found to contain problematic elements that don’t pass muster in today’s environment for generally acceptable behavior.
Many forms of media, ranging from history books to movies created in a less enlightened period of our history, have been called out for their outdated attitudes towards race, gender, and sexuality, but when critics start attacking the canon of Disney films, you can bet that those who determine the editorial content of the right-wing broadcaster Fox News will be salivating and preparing their outrage machine to launch into action.
The newest controversy at hand concerns criticism levied at Disney as they reopen the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California with the theme park attractions modified for their new post-pandemic reality.
The one ride that has garnered the most attention in its modifications is the one based on the classic animated Disney feature Snow White, with an article in SFGate, a San Francisco-based web publisher, declaring the addition of a reenactment of a scene from the film where Prince Charming kisses the sleeping Snow White as problematic because of the lack of consent involved.
“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,” Katie Dowd and Julie Tremaine wrote in their SFGate article about their prolems with the redesigned attraction, now renamed “Snow White’s Enchanted Wish” from its previous incarnation as “Snow White’s Scary Adventures.”
While it’s not surprising that the two women object to characterizing the stolen kiss as problematic in the #MeToo era, it’s no less unsurprising that the right-wing rabble-rousers on Fox News would take umbrage that a seemingly sacred piece of filmic Americana could be subject to modern reconsideration amidst screams of “Cancel Culture!”
The reaction against the take presented by the two SFGate writers started with Fox & Friends host Todd Piro who was asked by Stuart Varney about the controversy while making a guest appearance on Varney’s program on sister channel Fox Business.
“Boy, do I have something to say,” Piro started. “If you look at an accurate representation of Snow White, she was poisoned and that kiss saved her life. So for those two people who wrote that story, if you’re ill and somebody needs to perform CPR on you, are you going to get upset about consent? No. You’re not going to have an option in the matter.”
Claiming that arbiters of “wokeness” are trying to “rip apart all these things from our youth just because we’re looking for something to rip apart,” Piro pleaded for a halt to revisionist examinations of past cultural touchstones.
“Leave things alone,” he insisted. “Little girls can grow up to be both princesses and presidents. Let’s keep that in mind — presidents of companies — but they can also have that part of their youth. And I don’t think anybody is looking at the Prince Charming kiss of Snow White and saying, boy, that’s a microcosm of date rape culture in college.”
“I’m not saying date rape culture is a positive thing,” Piro added. “I have a little daughter right upstairs here in my home. Absolutely don’t want that but let’s disaggregate this. This is a cartoon, this is fable from many, many years. It is not what we all fear as dad’s of daughters.”
While Piro may object to the application of modern benchmarks of acceptability to cultural products of an earlier era, one has to wonder what his opinion is regarding Disney’s previous reactions to the public reappraisal of its films from a time that was less concerned about political correctness.
Disney’s Song of the South, originally released in the pre-racially aware days of 1946, was a combination live-action/animated feature based on the Uncle Remus/Brer Rabbit collection of African-American folk tales compiled and adapted by Joel Chandler Harris, a white writer in the post-reconstruction South of the late 19th century, a period of pervasive racism.
Despite the film being a commercial success at its release, containing a hit song — “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” — and garnering one of the first Academy Awards for a black actor (James Baskett for his portrayal of Uncle Remus), Disney pulled the film from circulation in the U.S. after its last theatrical showing in 1986 and never issued it in its entirety on home video in this country, primarily due to the fact that the film is now considered “antiquated” and “fairly offensive,” according to former Disney CEO Bob Iger.
Given Fox News’ propensity for picking new battles in the cancel culture wars, it’s surprising that they are only complaining about the controversy over Prince Charming’s transgressive kiss and haven’t started clamoring for Disney to resurrect Song of the South for nostalgia’s sake.
If retro-sexism is acceptable, why not retro-racism? They seem to have no problem standing by that reactionary racial attitude when Tucker Carlson expresses it each night on his program, so why not watch the negative stereotypes in Song of the South?
You can watch a clip of Todd Piro’s statement on Fox Business in the video below.
Original reporting by David Edwards at RawStory.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.