‘The Little Mermaid’ casting shouldn’t be controversial

‘The Little Mermaid’ casting shouldn’t be controversial

‘The Little Mermaid’ casting shouldn’t be controversial
July 11
09:57 2019

We are living in the era of Disney wanting to pump out live action versions of all our favorite movies we enjoyed as children to incite nostalgia in us and keep the stories alive for the younger generations. 

We have stumbled upon an issue that is triggering a very shrill and concerned audience, the casting of the upcoming live-action Little Mermaid. 

Halle Bailey was recently chosen to play Ariel. She is a young black actress seen in “Grown-ish,” “Last Holiday” and “Let it Shine.”

The idea of a black actress playing Ariel, originally drawn as a caucasian princess with red-hair, has disturbed people. The cartoon many of us watched growing up also had a singing crab in it, but people don’t seem to mind that they haven’t casted a real-life crab to star as Sebastian. 

America is starving for more minority representation in all forms of media. What is the harm in Ariel being played by a black actress in “The Little Mermaid”? This doesn’t subtract any form of white representation in film or television. We are already drowning in a million forms of white stories on television. 

There are white vampires, white werewolves, white princesses, white LGBTQ characters, white special needs characters, white deaf characters and much more. We have a very three-dimensional perspective on almost every white storyline that exists, so isn’t it time to tell other stories now? 

Young black girls can watch live-action Ariel, and see themselves playing the part. These girls aren’t force-fed yet another white princess. Now they can see themselves singing and dancing under the sea just as they see Ariel on screen. 

One argument that has been made is that Ariel is originally supposed to be Danish, therefore white. Freeform, which Disney is the parent company of, released a statement addressing that Danish people can in fact be black (who knew?), and that mermaids don’t exist in the first place (wait, WHAT??). Some of Freeform’s statements were satirical, but fundamentally addressed the issue at hand — there is no valid argument against casting a black actress to play Ariel. 

Another issue with this needless backlash would be this: there are children in cages at the border, a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, a perpetually dehydrated Flint and the oceans are boiling due to rapid climate change. Why is the issue of the black casting of Ariel getting controversial traction? If anything, the reporting of diversification in Disney should be generally good news! 

Let’s keep things in perspective, prioritize our stress for the world we live in, and remember what will be remembered as good news versus what will be remembered as ignored and overlooked historical atrocities.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

About Author

North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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