We Need To Talk About Black Ariel

Another Disney remake is coming and the cycle may proceed to start once again, with The Little Mermaid.

The whole Internet is in an uproar because Disney announced that singer Halle Bailey has been cast as Ariel and the fact that she is black somehow makes her unsuitable for the role.

Bull. Shit.

Never in all the times whenever this cycle occurs have I seen people get THIS upset. I’ve seen arguments that because Ariel is Danish she should be white, that black women can’t be redheads, mermaids can’t be black, or that Disney is just trying too hard with the political correctness by making these big changes instead of prioritizing storytelling. They’re all appallingly stupid, and hilarious to some extent.

Ariel has been part of my world since I was a little girl, I loved her for her sense of curiosity, beauty, but most of all, her voice. I would listen to the movie’s soundtrack a lot when I wasn’t watching the movie and sing her songs countless times. Meeting Jodi Benson last year was a dream come true. Ariel was the character that drove me to sing like nobody is watching.

So, I will tell you why despite the place Ariel holds in my heart, I have absolutely no issues with this casting decision.

Drumroll everybody.

Mermaids are fictional creatures, and as far as I’m concerned, there is nothing in the myths that says they can only be white. Use your imagination humanity, if I can picture myself as a master of dragons, then why can’t you imagine a mermaid with dark skin?

Why is it extremely important that a fictional character that is a mythical creature look EXACTLY the same as the one from 1989? If Disney decided to cast a white woman as Mulan in the upcoming remake instead of an Asian one, then that’s one thing. (Thankfully, the entire cast for that remake is Chinese, as it should be) But for a mythical creature, that’s different. There are no racial boundaries with mermaids.

Also, have you ever considered the fact that Ariel is known best for VOICE, not her looks? Maybe they cast Halle for the role because she can actually sing?

I decided to do a bit of searching and came across Halle and Chloe’s channel and turns out I was right, that girl can sing surprisingly well.

Here is one short but sweet example:

She’s no Beyonce or Rihanna, but she has talent, that’s what matters.

Maybe what Disney was trying to do is make up for when they had to auto-tune Emma Watson’s voice for the Beauty and the Beast remake. But I rest my case, also take a moment to think about how many opportunities black people get in the film industry. Believe it or not, there are actually a few movies I enjoy, aside from Black Panther that are primarily composed of black actors and those movies turned out great like Dreamgirls for instance. This could be Halle’s big break so we should be happy that she’s getting an opportunity like this.

Don’t even get me started on the outrageous comments I’ve seen on Instagram. People have started a hashtag called #NotMyAriel criticizing Disney and Halle herself that this was a terrible choice and some of them even acknowledge that Halle has talent but still dismiss her ability to play the role.

This is a big fat dose of nostalgia blindness, if not then RACIST summary of what encountered before I had to leave to cleanse my brain of the toxicity. (red ink for racist since it is STILL a problem in 2019)

It’s okay to not like it, but for the billionth time, raging online does not solve anything. Just don’t go see the film, is it that hard?

I plan to give this movie a chance because unlike those people, I’m not a pea-brained bigot who sits at home whining about every change that occurs in the world of entertainment. I like how we are getting stronger female characters, I like how actors of colour are getting more opportunities, and I like how some animated movies I love are being remastered as live-action.

Even Jodi Benson herself is alright with Halle playing Ariel and I quote:

“We need to be storytellers. And no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter our race, our nation, the color of our skin, our dialect, whether I’m tall or thin, whether I’m overweight or underweight, or my hair is whatever color, we really need to tell the story,”

So let’s just focus on Ariel as a character and the story told about her, not what she looks like. I’ll be seeing this movie and I’m not going to let a difference in skin colour interfere with my ability to enjoy it, and you should do the same.


5 thoughts on “We Need To Talk About Black Ariel”

  1. To be fair, originally mermaids were violent, hateful creatures. Looking at history, it would make more sense to cast a white person in such a role.

    Jokes aside, I really don’t get how this many people can still believe skin color somehow changes a person. It’s 2019, so can’t we just agree to start seeing black people as human beings…?
    Don’t give me that crap about it not being about race, but about “the character looking the same”. If you think the singing fish-woman can’t be played by a black person, it’s obvious to me that you think black people are somehow inferior to white people. Otherwise, *why* *would* *it* *matter*?

    Okay, rant over.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hmm that reminds me of the 2003 live action of Peter Pan, the mermaids were dark evil creatures that would try to drown you.

      Yes exactly. It’s still the same character so why should skin colour matter. Like I said, it’s nostalgia clouding their judgment all the time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Honestly, I don’t think it has anything to do with nostalgia. It’s simply ingrained racism. The nostalgia is just an excuse and I’m tired of it. And since I, who is as white as they come, am tired, I can only imagine how sick black people are of all the shit they have to listen to every time someone tries to add the tiniest bit of representation to the blindingly white entertainment landscape.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for calling this stuff out!

    Sure, I was never a fan of the original movie, but the racist backlash was just so stupid. It reminded me of people howling at the moon because of Finn in the newer Star Wars movies, Black Panther, or how Michael B. Jordan got to be Human Torch in the Fantastic Four remake. It also crap like this with the #NotMyAriel stuff going around further proved me right that some Disney fans are so bigoted. However, those same people don’t say crap about Scarlett Johansson playing Motoko Kusanagi in the live action Ghost in the Shell remake even though that character is explicitly Japanese! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Disney has become some racially progressive company all of a sudden, but the backlash against Halle Bailey is idiotic on so many levels. These same people always claim “Come on, it’s JUST A MOVIE!”, but when racist crap gets called out or if there’s a casting choice made involving someone without the Caucasian persuasion, then they just lose their minds.

    Liked by 1 person

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