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Under the sea of backlash: Breaking down criticisms of the new ‘Little Mermaid’

When it was first announced that actress-singer Halle Bailey would be playing Ariel in the live-action remake of Disney’s animated classic “The Little Mermaid,” people had mixed reactions. An outpouring of hate and distaste from particular groups of fans has since surrounded the casting choice.

The recent release of the movie’s official teaser stirred up even more negative responses across social media platforms. It has currently received almost three million dislikes on YouTube, compared to just over a million likes, and the hashtag “#NotMyAriel” has surfaced on Twitter.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why people are so upset that a Black woman was cast in the role of Ariel. Let’s take a look at some recurring arguments against Bailey’s casting and why they are pretty foolish.

1. Black mermaids aren’t scientifically possible

The last time I checked, mermaids aren’t real. And in regards to this purely fictional film that’s based on a fairy tale, I genuinely don’t think it matters what color Ariel’s skin is. We can all speculate on what complexion an imaginary creature living under the sea would have, but at the end of the day, it wouldn’t make a difference because it’s fiction.

2. Bailey looks nothing like Ariel

Just like the beloved character, Bailey dons red hair and a tail, not to mention she has the vocal ability to breathe new life into songs like “Part of Your World” from the original film. Ariel has no other defining features that the casting of a Black actress would impact in any way.

3. Making Ariel Black ruins the character 

People have somehow reasoned that Ariel having brown skin takes away from the character as a whole. For the record, Ariel’s race affects no aspects of the movie. She could quite literally be any color and the plot would remain the same.

On that note, it’s not like the original movie has disappeared. If you want to watch the 1989 version of “The Little Mermaid,” get yourself a Disney+ subscription and call it a day.

4. Diverse casting doesn’t change the fact that it will be another pointless remake 

While I can sympathize with the notion that remakes are tired and highly unnecessary, in this case, the argument dismisses the fact that another Black fairytale character means a lot to fans of color.

The last time we saw a Black Disney princess was “The Princess and the Frog.” And if we’re being real, that movie was amazing and paved the way for diversity, but Tiana wasn’t even human for the majority of the film.

“The Little Mermaid” gives little Black girls a chance they often don’t get in the media: seeing someone who looks like them on screen.

I am not a fan of remakes myself, as they tend to be disappointing and subpar. There might turn out to be a myriad of valid reasons to critique “The Little Mermaid” when it premieres next May, but Ariel being Black just isn’t one of them.

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