There has been pushback against Disney’s penchant for remaking their classic animated films into live-action fare, but Shadow And Act’s managing editor, Brooke Obie, believes that Disney’s remaking endeavors bring these films into the 21st century and away from their more problematic pasts.
Obie spoke on NPR’s 1A Movie Club discussing the recent remake of The Lion King. During the episode, which also featured The Lion King stars JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph, Obie shared how the remake improves upon the animated original, such as having a majority Black cast voice the characters.
“It definitely improved in really important ways on the original masterpiece…the original had some, there were some problematic issues. There was the hyena Ed…there was some ableism going on there. Disney has this trope of using an animal with a disability as a punchline…Now we have Eric Andre playing this version of Ed [Azizi] and he’s no longer an ableist joke. And I think that is a great improvement.”
Obie also said that despite fans initially criticizing Scar’s updated look in the remake, she feels that it takes a colorist element out of the film.
“You had Scar in the original with a darker skintone, he’s got this black hair. Darkness was supposed to signal evil…I think that [Scar’s updated look] is an improvement in this live-action version because there’s no message that darkness equals evil.”
While Disney has been criticized for its commitment to remaking its classic versions, Obie sees the remakes as an opportunity for Disney:
“The remakes are a very good thing,” she said. A lot of the Disney movies we grew up with and loved were extremely problematic. Remaking them gives an opportunity to correct that,” she said.
You can hear the full interview at 1a.org.