From the first frame, the new Disney musical Sneakerella it offers a dazzling attempt at diversity: it simply takes one of the world’s oldest tales and adds black characters and black culture. He then goes a step further, transforming his protagonist into a “Cinderella” named El (Chosen Jacobs), a young shoe lover who falls in love with the charming princess Kira King (Lexi Underwood). It’s an uninspired reboot, and its young audience deserves so much more.
The twist of Cinderella’s story is this: Instead of an evil stepmother and stepbrother, He has a horrible stepfather and stepbrother. He sets out with his best gay friend Sami (Devyn Nekoda) to buy limited edition sneakers, a trip that takes him to Kira, whose father is the basketball star and sneaker mogul Darius King (John Salley). Turn the pumpkin cart into a classic car and the luxury ball into a gala of sneakers and before you know it, Sneakerella it has effectively pushed back all the well-worn territory of its predecessor.
Herein lies the problem. The movie has the feeling of opening a gift on Christmas morning and discovering socks when you really wanted a new phone. No one asked for this remake and in the end it is a great missed opportunity. At a time when Disney could use the wealth of talent at its disposal to create authentic stories that capture the communities it seeks to reflect, instead, it has offered one of its oldest stories with some new faces and a few overproduced musical numbers. Taking marginalized groups of any kind and sticking them in a narrative that wasn’t created for them is lazy, even if it’s well-intentioned. And since the movie is at Disney +, kids who need to be more represented may not be able to see it. One of the most beautiful things about Disney over the years has been its ability to reach people from all walks of life. Creating a movie with more representation and then limiting its accessibility seems like a step in the wrong direction.
Growing up in the 1990’s / early 2000’s, I witnessed Disney take the market by creating movies that everyone could relate to …Cheetah girls, Camp Rock, High School Musical, many of which became successful empires. They kept the programming attractive, interactive, and fresh by adding songs, teaching choreography during commercial breaks, and organizing events such as the Disney Channel Games. From a business standpoint, Disney’s need to keep up with the ongoing streaming wars is understandable, but it should still create quality content across platforms, which seems to have left the ball. Like so many other companies, Disney puts money where it can make money, but it’s not always where it could do better.
In recent years, the company has created several reboots / spin-offs, such as Crow’s House; Girl Meets World; High School Musical: The Musical: The Series; i Proud family: more and more proud– just to name a few – saying effectively “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” But just because it’s not broken doesn’t mean Disney has to keep doing reboots and take advantage of nostalgia. It should put its massive power behind the new shows and give them a chance to shine. Disney should do better because it has shown us that it can. The channel that once made us feel that everything was possible should use its programs and movies to inspire the next generation of dreamers and great thinkers. Disney has the game book for that. The screenwriters and directors you need to do that are out there. All you have to do is stick around and try.