The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

2024 Commencement Student Speaker: Lea Tarzy
Alexandra Slofkiss: 2024 Commencement Soloist
Outstanding Senior Award: Bernadette Maramis
Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion: Gloria Sporea

Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion: Gloria Sporea

May 10, 2024

Excellence in Athletics Award: Meghan Quinn

Excellence in Athletics Award: Meghan Quinn

May 10, 2024

Excellence in the Arts Award: Joselyn Busato

Excellence in the Arts Award: Joselyn Busato

May 10, 2024

View All

Reflections on ‘Tangled’ and the need for diverse representation

Esther: This past week, after talking about it for weeks and weeks with a good friend, I finally watched “Tangled” for the first time. “Tangled” is truly a treasure in animation history and I can see why the 2010 Disney film is a classic and a favorite among many of my friends. The charming protagonists have distinct personalities that fight off the typical ‘dainty princess’ and ‘knight in shining armor’ tropes, and the musical elements don’t feel suddenly sprung onto the viewer. 

The snarkiness of Flynn Rider 

Flynn Rider is undeniably a refreshing male lead in the string of Disney princess movies. His character goes beyond his outward appearance with his snarky jokes and cocky attitude. He starts the movie with only a hope to steal the crown as a thief and make lots of money, but as the movie progresses, he learns that he is liked for himself, Eugene Fitzherbert, not only for Flynn Rider, the childhood hero he aspires to be. He makes for an unlikely hero himself, having his own character development, with both the male and female leads having an emotional growth themselves. 

The layered emotional manipulation of Mother Gothel 

Story continues below advertisement

In creating a layered villain arc, Disney did a good job with creating a villain such as Mother Gothel, that the audience knows is very clearly is evil and malicious, but Rapunzel doesn’t. Thus, my friend and I kept commenting about how emotionally manipulative Mother Gothel is (and the years of therapy that Rapunzel would need) as I was waiting on the edge of my seat for Rapunzel, wincing every time she called Mother Gothel, “mother,” and for her to finally realize who were her real parents. 

All in all, with the beautiful animations (especially that of the lantern scene) and the fleshed-out characters and storyline, “Tangled” was a joy to watch for the first time. 

Malika: Recently, TikTok was filled with controversy surrounding Avantika Vandanapu, known for her role in the “Mean Girls” remake, amid rumors of her possible casting as Rapunzel in a ‘Tangled’ remake. Despite the rumors lacking concrete confirmation and turning out to just be a fan casting, a wave of criticism came forth. Many have insisted Rapunzel should only be portrayed by a light-skinned blonde woman. I even saw one creator on the platform crying about it. 

Many fans have also come to her defense, including “Never Have I Ever” star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, another rising female actor of South Asian descent. She voiced her support for Avantika on X, stating “And they finally woke up to realize it was all just rumors and the sources never existed. … And to the racists, y’all still need a hobby (for real) 🤡”. Unfortunately, similar uproars have occurred when women of color were cast in iconic roles, such as Halle Bailey, a Black woman, as Ariel in The 2023 “The Little Mermaid” remake and Rachel Zegler, a Colombian-American, as Snow White in the 2025 remake. 

From a personal perspective, the idea of diverse representation in these timeless roles is incredibly exciting. Growing up, South Asian representation was minimal, often reduced to stereotypical characters that reinforced racist stereotypes. Take Ravi from “Jessie” and Chirag Gupta the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, for example. Karan Brar literally had to take voice acting lessons because he doesn’t actually have an accent. Yet, in recent years, there has finally been a noticeable shift towards more uplifting portrayals in shows like “Never Have I Ever”, “Ms. Marvel”, and even the Indian Spiderman feature in the last installment of the series. It truly signals progress in media representation.

The criticism directed at Avantika on social media is perplexing, especially considering that her rumored casting is based solely on speculation. Even if she were to be cast, her South Asian background would offer a unique and fitting perspective to the character of Rapunzel. South Asians are known for their hair secrets, and even their crazy familial dynamics as well. Additionally, given the historical lack of diversity in Disney princess films, the backlash seems unwarranted.

And on top of that, this type of media has witnessed a recurrence of identical characters and a lack of diversity. It’s time to move past traditional casting expectations and embrace a more inclusive vision of storytelling. Reacting with tears and filling a 19-year old actor’s social media with hateful comments, despite the fact that the majority of famous Disney princess films have constantly featured or cast white women, seems irrational. Maybe it’s time we move past this fixation. 

(Visited 38 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Esther Zhao
Esther Zhao, Arts & Culture Co-Editor

Comments (0)

The editorial board of The Bucknellian reserves the right to review all comments before they are posted on the website and remove any if deemed offensive, illegal or in bad taste. Comments left on our web pages are not necessarily in-line with the views expressed by the writer.
All The Bucknellian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *