With Disney making the rounds to ruin each of its animated movies with a subpar live-action remake, “The Little Mermaid” is unfortunately the latest victim. However, despite many Disney fans’ distastes for recent remakes, “The Little Mermaid” was particularly controversial.
In the original animated movie, Ariel — the lead-mermaid-but-occasional-human — is white and has red hair. In the live-action remake, Ariel will be played by black actress Halle Bailey. As expected, fans hustled to Twitter to express their outrage that the original’s elements aren’t being imitated (“We don’t want a black woman playing a white mermaid! #NotMyAriel).
Although I initially dismissed #NotMyAriel tweeters as simple racists, after further thought, they may have a point.
In other live-action Disney remakes, the actress playing the princess shares the same physical attributes as the animated princess, such as Belle (played by Emma Watson, a white brunette) and Mulan (played by Liu Yifei, a Chinese actress).
By casting Bailey as Ariel, Disney is breaking its trend of staying true to the princesses’ original images. It’s not unlikely that the company is attempting to capitalize on our generation’s desire for more people of color (POC) representation in mass media, including movies produced by a large company such as Disney.
While I cannot discredit Bailey’s acting abilities due to my lack of familiarity with her past roles, it’s hard for me to believe that Disney did not have an underlying motive of attempting to bring in viewers because of its “inclusive casting choice.”
If Disney truly wants to convince people to sprint to the theatres and watch one of its movies featuring POC, the company should simply create new stories with more minority representation rather than replacing characters who have a preexisting image, such as red-headed
Ariel. Not only would Disney be forced to produce original storylines rather than recycling old movies as it has been doing with recent remakes, but controversies such as “The Little Mermaid” and its cast would be avoided; fans wouldn’t be able complain that their favorite princess’s image isn’t being upheld, and the company will be championed for finally introducing more non-white princesses.