Is our childhood rooted in racism?

Lisaury Diaz

Opinions Editor

Image via imdb.com

Recently, a trailer for the live action movie “The Little Mermaid” starring Halle Bailey was released. The trailer has gotten over 1.5 million dislikes on YouTube. All over social media there’s criticism, opinions and upset fans expressing their dislike behind the main character, Ariel, being played by a Black woman, since the animated version does not possess a dark skinned mermaid. The question is whether this issue with the live action movie comes from the lack of similarities within this version and the original animated version, or is it coming from a position of racism.

The comments, tweets and posts say things such as, “Ariel was not black,” and the hashtag #notmyariel is trending all over Twitter. It is to the point where scientists are getting involved. Scientist Matt Walsh is on record saying, “It does not make sense to have someone darker skin who lives deep in the ocean. If anything, not only should The Little Mermaid be pale, she should actually be translucent.”


However, there’s one part of this argument being left behind: mermaids are not real. “The Little Mermaid” is a fictional character who was specifically created for children. Yes, actual sea creatures would be translucent, therefore it would also not be even what the original movies portrayed. It would not make sense from a “scientific perspective” for the little mermaid to look part human at all.


When thinking about the hashtag #notmyariel, we must think back to the different perspectives behind Disney’s movies. One of the things often seen in these movies that gets pointed out is the odd coincidence of every black character being turned into an animal. We see an example of this in The Princess and The Frog where Tiana, a black animated character, for most of the movie is a frog. At the end of the day, the Little Mermaid is still “an animal/creature”, though we will be seeing a Black woman's face throughout the movie. It is often questioned if. this the only way Disney knows how to tell black stories? Is this all of what they are worth? These are just questions to think about and analyze a bit deeper when thinking about representation.


Racism is still very present, and the #notmyariel hashtag is coming from a very specific point of view that is rooted specifically from it. Understanding that even though the Ariel presented in the live action movie does not look the same as the animated one does not take away from the story and emotional connection little kids have and will continue to have with it. Black girls now have a princess who they feel identified with and actually see themselves on the big screen which they have not had in the same way as white kids have.


In all reality, more representation with the Disney princesses world should have happened sooner and the anger behind all this leads back to white supremacy and deep-rooted racism. The media we grew up with and the one that continues to be pushed today often leave people of color aside. Most Disney main characters are not people of color and if you were to name all Disney's princesses, princesses of color would make the minority in the list. Representation is still not fully there, and we have a long way to go, especially if a trailer to a kids movie gets over a million dislikes due to the change of the animated character from a ginger white mermaid to a black one. As simple as it sounds, this is a complex issue and there might be some good questions to ask ourselves such as what is really bothering me about this movie? Am I offended because she was changed for a black woman? What is making me think that this actress is not going to do a wonderful job with the character?


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