Who should play the new Rapunzel?

Graphic design via Canva by Rebekah Bushmire
Graphic design via Canva by Rebekah Bushmire
Rebekah Bushmire

Actress Avantika Vandanapu is rumored to have been casted for the live action “Tangled,” the Disney animation film about the lost princess with the long magical blonde hair. Due to Vandanapu being a brown woman of Indian descent, she has received some backlash because her physical features do not correlate with the features that the animated version possesses. 

According to USA Today, the feedback from the public was triggered because her appearance does not resemble the character in 2010. “The post sparked negative reactions from some fans, who took to the comments section on Avantika’s Instagram profile to share their dissatisfaction with the Indian American actor’s rumored casting as Rapunzel, who appears as a light-skinned, blonde woman in “Tangled.” 

With this came opposing views from the public in which people expressed that denying Avantika the role would be due to racism. Social media platforms such as TikTok, X and Instagram have a lot of content creators such as Amala Ekpunobi, and the Free Press Journal have been calling out the “reverse racism” that happens when Disney is choosing an actress to play in their recent trend of making live action movies. 

I don’t think that the race nor color of the actress matters as long as the story is set in an environment that would correlate with the race of the actress. If the setting in the live action movie was in Germany, then it would completely make sense if the actress was a white woman with blonde hair. 

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However, if actress Vandanapu were to take the role, with the setting being in India due to her Indian descent, I would love to see that revived version. Instead of trying to rewrite the story of the original “Tangled” movie, it would be better if the writers would change the environment in which the movie would take place in.

According to “The Battle of the Rapunzels” article, most of Disney’s movies are just revised versions of old European folktales, “she expands on the difference between the original German fairy tale and the transformed Disney movie.” 

In the article, itgoes into depth about the history of the origins of the story.

In the Grimm version, it was the fairy continuing to lead her life in the same way, while the main characters struggled and lost what peace they had originally had,” Blay said.

In this case, The Grimm Brothers were the original writers of the story, set the story in Germany. The question that I had to ponder on was “When is it okay to change the original plot of the story?” Most of the arguments that are coming from social media are because of the drastic in the casting. Most people do not feel comfortable with Disney changing the features about the character. However, this is quite contradicting because Disney completely changed the trajectory of the Brother Grimms version.

This happens with more than just Disney; several other stories have been based off of the same plots. It is an act of art but also an act of change,” Blay said.

With this being said, the color of the character should not matter. As long as their environment makes sense with the plot of the story, it shouldn’t matter who plays Rapunzel. 

In Disney’s live action “The Little Mermaid,” black actress Halle Bailey was casted to play Ariel. With this came a lot negative comments from the media that are pretty similar to the backlash that Avantika is now receiving from the media.

According to CNN’s article “Hallie Bailey’s Star Role in the Little Mermaid”, the racial backlash were due to the fans feeling like the Disney is trying to change the original storyline.

Some critics argued on Twitter that Ariel was a White character from Danish European folklore and should remain that way. Others, including far-right pundit Matt Walsh, suggested that it didn’t make scientific sense to have someone with darker skin living deep in the sea,” CNN said.

Bailey’s performance proved that the color of the actress does not matter. Her talent shined through and made the film more enjoyable. Some little things that also affected the movie was the environment it was set in. Ariel was a mermaid princess in the Caribbean sea. Because of this, it made sense that Ariel was a woman of color. The only critique that I have for the movie was lack of consistency with the other cast members. 

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About the Contributor
Celine Jean
Celine Jean, Staff
Celine Jean is a junior serving in her first year as a staff member at the McIntosh Trail. Her passion for reading and writing had been ignited since elementary school when Jean was a part of the Poetry Club. In middle school, Jean’s interest in short stories and political ideologies took an intensive path after two years of participating in the Yale Splash program in Connecticut. Ever since 2021, Jean has volunteered with People of Impact and the Haitian American Caucus to assist the underserved community. Her involvement commenced with serving at soup kitchens and joining park cleaning events in urban and neglected areas in New York. Soon, Jean began to organize volunteering and fundraising events for domestic violence and family shelters. Jean joined God’s Love We Deliver, a non-profit that focuses on feeding hospice cancer and AIDS patients on holidays. In 9th grade, during a socially and politically sensitive climate, Jean became a founding leader of Uncommon Ground, a student group that partners with administration to learn concerns and bridge the gap of the BIPOC students. During her sophomore year at McIntosh, Jean joined the Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO), the Debate Team and the Spanish Club. Celine is excited about embarking on this new journey as an official staff member of the McIntosh Trail.
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