Little Mermaid breaks the internet

On Sept. 9 of this year, the teaser for the new live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid’’ hit Disney’s social media platforms with 1.2 million likes and 1.5 million dislikes, according to the most recent report from In which, racist viewers turned the progressiveness of Disney’s adaptations into an uproar that fans and people of color are all too familiar with.
The protagonist, Ariel, is played by Halle Bailey, 22-year old singer-songwriter and proud young woman of color. Despite the announcement of Bailey’s position in the new adaptation being made publicly official in July 2019, viewers of the new trailer were supposedly flabbergasted that the beloved character of Ariel was being played by a black woman, when in the original animated movie, she was white. Though Bailey demonstrated artistry through her voice in the classic solo song, “Part of Your World”, critics claimed that Bailey’s character ruined the beloved princess based on the sole reason of race.

Some unhappy viewers comment on Bailey’s role as simply unrealistic due to the idea that a mermaid is supposedly unable to have melanin in her skin. With that argument however, anyone could make their own theories and assumptions based on mermaids due to the fact that, though some seem to fail to understand, mer-people are not real.

There are many examples of white actors portraying people of different races that did not face nearly as much backlash. One prime example of the double standard is when “Dragonball Evolution,” a live action movie adaptation of the Japanese anime series “Dragonball Z” was made in 2009. In this film, Justin Chatwin, a Caucasian actor, played the part of the main character in the show, Goku, an East Asian character. Though the movie did not do well in the box office, most, if not all, reviews simply remarked on the movie’s adaptation of the story and not how the races of the actors differed from the original cartoon.

Due to most news stations covering the hate towards the film, the influx of love and admiration towards the first woman of color portraying a live action Disney princess for the first time is sadly being overlooked.

Despite the comments of hate and aversion towards Bailey’s role, black kids and even adults all around the world recorded and remarked on their heartfelt reactions towards seeing Disney’s beloved mermaid being portrayed as a black woman. Growing up, I remember being obsessed with Disney princesses, and seeing characters such as Jasmine and Tiana with a darker skin tone like me allowed me to feel as though even I could be as strong as them. Although, people of color still frequently face dislike and enormous amounts of hate, I feel that Disney is headed in the right direction. I sincerely hope that regarding the release of the film in May, viewers choose to focus on Bailey’s portrayal of Ariel instead of the color of her skin.