Recently the news broke that Disney are making a live action remake of one of my favourite films in the world, The Little Mermaid.
Apart from the overall excitement of my geeky side (that outshines even my Crater’s geeky side – that says a lot!), that announcement isn’t really anything to write home about… Or is it? Well, you tell me. Because social media has been at war with itself about the casting of Halle Bailey – a beautiful, talented woman of black origin – as Ariel, the famously white, blue-eyed redhead.
Sitting On The Fence
While one half of life has been celebrating the diversity of a modern day Disney World with its bold choice of changing the ethnicity of the film’s heroine, the other half has been protesting the apparently unnecessary change as a case of positive discrimination being used to fix what was never broken.
I’m an adult & a very open-minded one at that but, for every rational thought I’ve had about this news, the child’s voice in my heart disagrees with the choice.
The adult part of me loves Disney for casting a black leading lady who isn’t the spitting image of the animated princess because we need diversity in our (unintentionally) rather narrow-minded lives. So huge props to Disney for this bold choice!
But, for me, it’s my inner geek that opposes the casting of Halle (yes, I totally had to do a double take too thinking fiftysomething year old Halle Berry was gonna be the 16 year old Ariel – you’re not the only one!) simply because it differs from the original. Nothing at all do to with ethnicity as many would believe but if they’d have cast a brunette Ariel it still wouldn’t feel the same.
Geek At Heart
Geeks tend not to like change regardless of what kind of statement it makes & I’d have the same uncertainty if Prince Eric was a blonde adonis with sailor tattoos up his arm or if Ursula was slim & slinky & lacking in body confidence or if Max was a pampered poodle in a diamante collar. You catch my drift.
I know that without a doubt it will be an immense remake that I’ll instantly love because The Little Mermaid has been my favourite forever! But, really, how do I feel about a black Ariel? And why?
The answer is that I’m honestly not really sure. But in less of a negative way & more of an open-to-interpretation way.
Disney’s Ulterior Motives…?
Ariel being anything other than a pale, petite, toned, redhead with sparkling blue eyes, purple shells & green fins blows my tiny mind. Especially as I don’t believe the change has been made entirely with positivity & diversity at the forefront of Disney’s mind.
Call me cynical but casting Halle Bailey strikes me as being less about the actress herself or what she can bring to the role & more a case of:
a) Box ticking to keep as many people on side as possible by becoming more inclusive of racial diversity in a world of prejudice, so as they’re not continually being tarred with the same brush of being old fashioned & narrow minded in the whole “Walt Disney was a Natzi” thang, or
b) Calculatingly casting a hot upcoming starlet with a huge teenage following that they can tap into for both popularity & controversy, because they know it will divide audiences while clocking up the column inches before the movie publicity even begins.
(And another point for c), a bit far fetched some may say, but if we’re making Ariel black to be inclusive of a black audience & for an idol for young black girls growing up, is this choice, in turn, excluding an audience of ginger girls who felt they too were lesser represented til they were introduced to this red-headed princess?)
More Than A Colour
Halle is a cute looking actress with a great singing voice & Ariel is all about cuteness along with those vocal solos, so on that level she is a great choice! But it seems whatever side of the fence people are on, those points are by the by & it all appears to be an issue of ethnicity, politics & fixing what was never broken – everyone is too caught up on those issues to accept genuine opinions & the reasons behind them.
In a nutshell, whether this change is a good thing or a bad thing, I guess I won’t know til I’ve seen the remake. But Halle Bailey is a cracking little actress & cartoon Ariel is iconic so I’m ready to be swayed either way.
Let’s have you, Ariel, I’m ready to be wowed!
Dani | Mrs Crater x
Artwork used with permission by Instagram’s super talented Ocean Blaine.