Little Mermaid Casting Controversy! The Little Mermaid live-action remake’s decision to cast singer Halle Bailey as Ariel has drawn some vicious internet criticism. It seemed inevitable that there would be a new live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid as The Walt Disney Company carried on with its practice.
Many people credit the 1989 movie for reviving the business’s flagging animation division and launching the Disney Renaissance. It was always a top pick for a glitzy remake because it is one of the company’s most lucrative and well-liked films, both critically and commercially.
In May 2016, Disney said that the remake would be helmed by Rob Marshall (Mary Poppins Returns), with new songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton and Alan Menken of the original film. The movie ensemble has been assembled over the past month with surprising selections, like Melissa McCarthy as Ursula the sea witch and Awkwafina as a Scuttle with a gender switch.
The casting of Ariel was, of course, the biggest news. It was confirmed last week that Halle Bailey would play the lead role. Best known as one half of the combo Chloe X Halle, the 19-year-old vocalist. The sisters appeared in the Freeform sitcom Grown-ish as series regulars and have toured with Beyoncé. They have also received two Grammy Award nominations.
Many fans were happy with the casting of Bailey, even if it wasn’t one they had anticipated. However, it didn’t take long for the typical objections to her casting to be raised, with the majority of comments focused on her race and lack of red hair.
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Casting Of Halle Bailey In The Little Mermaid Has Drawn Criticism
The fact that racism is the foundation of the great majority of the ire aimed against Bailey and Disney is depressingly inevitable. Her absence of red hair is the primary justification for the frequently fierce anger on this issue. That argument ignores the fact that the shade of red Ariel possesses in The Little Mermaid is very abnormal for persons with red hair.
It is purposefully a cartoon red to match the technicolor palette of the film. You can dye your hair that color, but it’s incredibly tough to keep up, and it won’t appear as if it came from your scalp. Likely, any female playing that part would be donning a wig, and having naturally red hair is not necessarily a requirement for playing Ariel.
Although it should not be ignored, it is difficult to ignore the racism of this pushback. Since Disney initially produced the film, this part has been played exclusively by white actors, and it has stayed so through all of the sequels, prequels, stage adaptations, and theme park tie-ins the studio has produced.
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That doesn’t mean the post had to continue to be filled by white people, though. It’s a fantasy tale, but there’s no reason why a new generation of kids can’t have an Ariel who looks different from the cartoon, even just in terms of its brand value for Disney. The financial advantages of diversity in these projects have been enormous. Hollywood has gradually embraced a more inclusive approach to creating films on and off the camera (although overall numbers remain depressingly low).
The live-action remake of Aladdin, which has a cast predominately made up of actors from the Middle East and the Arab world, has earned over $900 million globally in 2019 and is presently the third-highest-grossing film of the year.
The Little Mermaid Has A Lot Of Trolls
Another crucial component of how much of this backlash has been generated by bot accounts rather than actual people. The Little Mermaid DVD was purportedly thrown in the garbage by a white woman in one of the backlash’s most well-known tweets, who claimed to be outraged by Bailey’s casting. It was shortly discovered to be a bot employing numerous photographs copied from Pinterest and Instagram.
The harm had already been done when the tweet was discovered, and the account was suspended, even though the main image of “her” throwing the DVD away was an image of a man’s hand. Trolls and those with political objectives seized on Bailey’s casting as a way to stir the fire and incite more hate, as is customary on social media. It aided in soaking up much of the news’s excitement, allowing hatred to once more dominate the narrative.
'The Little Mermaid is black': Daryl Hannah shows support for Halle Bailey as racist trolls attack the young actress https://t.co/yE7bdLgMJf
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) September 16, 2022
Racism defined the story instead of the genuinely excellent news of Bailey’s inclusion in a significant project that has been important to Disney for decades. It once again gave nasty right-wing hate campaigns a platform to act as though there was a real backlash at work rather than merely bigotry.
Halle Bailey Would Be A Good Match For Ariel!
Bailey, who has demonstrated outstanding voice talent and acting expertise, is a very well-liked personality among Disney’s target audience. Her casting makes good business sense. She exudes the ideal amount of youthful warmth and curiosity that Ariel needs.
She undoubtedly possesses the vocal range necessary to perform specific Alan Menken tunes, as seen by her work with Chloe x Halle (something other actresses in these live-action remakes, such as Emma Watson, sorely lacked).
Bailey has a passionate young fan base, and casting projects of this scale most definitely consider such things. She embodies the whole thing in many ways. It is also encouraging to see Disney diversify one of its most well-known brands and take on a brand-defining project with a property. One of the most famous Disney princesses portrayed by a black actress will mean a lot to many young black girls. Therefore it shouldn’t be discounted or shrugged off as no big deal.
Even in 2019, opportunities like this for black actresses remain depressingly few. Thus it should be the duty of companies like Disney to set the bar for diverse storytelling. Aladdin, Black Panther, and Crazy Rich Asians-style movies, which all made large sums of money and attracted fervent fan groups, shouldn’t be the exception but the trend in Hollywood.
The criticism of Halle Bailey and The Little Mermaid should subside soon, and it’s improbable that a project with this scope and an existing fan base won’t be a huge success (it’s rarely a wise idea to bet against Disney). This is a time to celebrate the good things. Still, it’s also critical to recognize how developments in pop culture and the entertainment sector may be used as weapons by organized hate groups and to take action when this happens.