Disney has been in the live-action remake mood lately. With the creation of Aladdin and The Lion King, the company is really starting to cash in on remaking some of their classics.
Every time the cast for a remake is revealed, fans have an opinion, whether it be good or bad. But the most recent wave of opinions regarding a live remake has been a little concerning, to say the least.
Last week, Disney announced that singer Halle Bailey would reprise the role of Ariel in the remake of The Little Mermaid. As fans quickly realized, Bailey is African American, which to some people meant that she couldn’t play the fictional character.
As soon as she was announced as Ariel, some people took to the internet to express their dismay.
“I don’t care what anyone says,” one man tweeted with a picture of the original cartoon. “This is The Little Mermaid and Ariel. #NotMyAriel.”
“Left: Why cast a half-White as Jasmine? Aladdin is a Middle Eastern story! Should be an Arab!” another person wrote, comparing other Disney remakes. “Right: Why cast an AA as Ariel? The Little Mermaid is a Danish story! Should be a ginger! Center: Art is up for interpretation. Who cares about the ethnicities of fictional characters?”
“So why is it that The Little Mermaid, the herald of the Disney Renaissance is changed?” another said. “I hope Tiana is cast as a white actress. #NotMyArial.”
But some fans were excited to see another version of the classic tale.
“I, a redheaded white kid, grew up watching The Little Mermaid,” one fan tweeted. “Ariel was my fav princess bc I identified w her. Now, as an adult, I’m STOKED that other girls can enjoy the movie the same way I did as a little girl. Your white childhood isn’t ruined bc Disney cares ab black kids.”
Disney’s Freeform response
Disney does not often respond to social media backlash, but yesterday, Disney’s Freeform took to their Instagram to comment on the situation.
“Yes. The original author of The Little Mermaid was Danish. Ariel…is a mermaid,” the post read. “She lives in an underwater kingdom in international waters and can legit swim wherever she wants (even though that often upsets King Triton, absolute zaddy). But for the sake of argument, let’s say that Ariel, too, is Danish.”
“Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black,” the statement continued. “Ariel can sneak up to the surface at any time with her pals Scuttle and the *ahem* Jamaican crab Sebastian (sorry, Flounder!) and keep that bronze base tight. Black Danish people, and this mer-folk, can also *genetically* (!!!) have red hair.”
The statement finished, reminding people that none of this geographical data actually mattered.
“But spoiler alert – bring it back to the top – the character of Ariel is a work of fiction,” the letter closed. “So after all this is said and done, and you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is because she ‘doesn’t look like the cartoon one,’ oh boy, do I have some news for you…about you.”
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