I don't really like Lindsay Ellis at all but I never thought I'd see the day where I agree with her on something and she'd have a video that perfectly sums up how I feel about Disney today.
I was watching her Beauty and the Beast 2017 review and she pretty much hit the nail on the head of all my issues. She was basically complaining about how years of whiny, nitpicky nobodies on the internet like you and me going on and on about "plothole" this and "problematic" that regarding Disney movies has pretty much resulted in the hot ass messes modern Disney films are today. How Beauty and the Beast is a terrible adaptation of the OG story and it's contribution to Disney's current obsession with being "meta, self aware, subversive" and "progressive, feminist, woke", only adds to the nonsense.
And it's so funny because Lindsay Ellis the exact type of person these modern films are trying to appease with this stuff but now that it's affecting a film SHE likes (BatB) even she agrees that this crap has gone too far. In fact, in the video, she's actually kind of apologetic for contributing to this mentality. ("I will never cease my pendence walk")
Actually, in a few reviews of the BatB remake on Youtube, the reviewers basically have this attitude of "We were just joking around and nitpicking about the unanswered questions, the stockholme sydrome etc. We didn't think you'd actually listen to us. This isn't what we wanted."
And this issue isn't exclusive to the remakes, it's in the revival DP movies too, the writers are so obsessed with inserting the self aware metacontextual humor you'd find in parodies of Disney movies and making sure the heroines and the stories are as progressive, feminist and "unproblematic" as possible.
With the criticism of wishing, (PATF) the "I don't need a prince" crap, (Brave) the "you can't marry a man you just met" crap, (Frozen) and the "if you have animal friends then you're a princess" crap. (Moana) There's huge hoorah over Tiana being the first black princess and Moana's body type and that stuff IS nice but what about you know, the actual story?!
It doesn't surprise me at all that PATF, Brave, Frozen and Moana have all been labelled various combinations of "rushed, messy, lacluckster" among Disney fans compared to Tangled, often praised as one of the most cohesive rounded out stories from Disney in the last decade.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say this might be a contributing factor as to why Rapunzel/Tangled is the most popular Revival DP princess/movie by such a significant margin among the Disney community, because outside of Flynn's "I don't sing" bit, it doesn't have any of the pretentious meta crap. This may come as a shock to some of you, but people don't like being patronized and antagonized for liking what they like! Which seems to be the intent of a lot of these modern films.
Disney, we already know your older movies have ridiculous elements (they're fairytales for crying out loud) we don't need you to tell us, especially in the most condescending "on the nose" way possible. And on top of that, you encourage and further perpuate the louder strawman arguments aimed against the older films, like Cinderella.
In the 2015 remake, y'all were so determined to make this Cinderella "smarter, stronger and more indepedent" than her 1950 counterpart but as the Nostalgia Critic points out, you ironically made her dumber and weaker. And now it seems this foolishness is gonna continue with the Aladdin remake because apparently they're making these same kind of "improvements" with Jasmine.
To quote Naomi Scott "this movie, you see her go on such a roller coaster, as opposed to her one goal being to fall in love or get married.” Right, because the original Jasmine was all about love and marriage. A false critique that quite a few people, including Lindsay Ellis, have spouted about Jasmine.
And again, this is an issue with the revival DP movies as well, the whole "smarter, stronger, more independent, more developed, more progressive, more feminist" heroine schtick did exist in the renaissance era but it is turned up to 100 with the modern films, and it's even more in your face because of the tryhard self aware crap.
Y'all were so determined to pander to whiny, nitpicky bastards that gather on sites like Reddit and Tumblr complaning about how the previous princesses are "problematic" and again, ironically you created characters like Tiana, who actually did marry a man (or in this case frog) she just met, Merida, who finds herself needing to be rescued more often any other princess, Anna, arguably the dumbest princess yet, and Elsa, an arguably very undeveloped character. You made princesses who are just as if not MORE guilty of the stuff previous princesses are given grief for.
To bring it back to Lindsay Ellis, she made a potent point about about the gradual change in Disney's approach and ironically praised the old fashioned Walt for putting the story first and just trying to appeal to the childlike wonder that's in all of us. In Eisner's days it was more of a balance between telling stories and making money. Nowadays, with the current Disney head (can't remember his name) it's all about doing what's marketible and mainstream or at least what seems mainstream.
Disney, the loud minority of pedantic nitpicky people online who get critical and offended over little thing you do are just a minority, they don't represent the general public or even the hardcore Disney fandom. I know these grievances may seem mainstream because celebrity idiots like Kiera Knightley bash Cinderella and Ariel in an interview, but if you look in the comment section (usually a cesspool but surspirsingly sensible in this context) of that interview on Youtube, vast majority of people are actually not co-signing on what she's saying....not even a little bit.
Concepts like diversity and progressiveness are very much welcomed but I'm just saying maybe we should take a page out of Walt's book, and just prioritize telling a fun entertaining well written story. It's like a contributor to the Youtube channel Chesire Cat Studios said in his Frozen review in regards to Disney's current state of "social justice wokeness". He said "the problem is that people treat this as though it owes them a responsibility".
Disney's only responsibility and obligation is to tell an entertaining story and maybe present a moral or two along the way. It's not their responsibilty to cuddle you and basically "talk you off a ledge" nor is it to make some revolutionary progressive statement, and not to mention when they do try to make these statements they make them in the most half assed way possible.
For example, if they really gave a crap about developing and progressing Belle in the remake, they would have made her an aspiring writer, you know, an actually natural and logical proogression for her character, not taking a characteristic from Maurice (inventing) and giving to her and basically making her Emma Watson's self indulgent feminist power fantasy. The fact her inventing skills never actually impact the plot just tells me it was just to put in to make her seem "better" than the 1991 Belle.
Let's not forget about Le Fou being gay....apparently and what happened to Belle's mom. Both of which, as Lindsay Ellis points out, were just inserted in the film to be progressive ("first gay Disney character YAY!") and to make some meta-response to the age old "dead mom" critique from whiny people on the internet.
Disney, as loud as people on Tumblr, Reddit, a few celebrities and dozens of articles on Buzzfeed-esque site may be, there are not the vast majority of people watching your movies. Most people actually DON'T care that "the first black princess is a frog for the most of the movie", to them it's just a thing that happens in the story. Regardless, more people are just happy to have black princess and even more of them just want to watch a good movie.
Same goes most of the similar complaints about Disney movies being regurgitated on the internet. The fact is, most of the people making those complaints are either a) not actually being serious or b) just plain crazy and won't be satisfied no matter what Disney does. Accommodating and pandering to these people should not be a priority.
I know Walt wasn't the most progressive man but contrary to what may seem like popular belief, most people actually subscribe to his way of thinking when it comes to storytelling. Just tell a compelling and cohesive story. That's it.