Disney recently announced that Ariel would be black in the upcoming remake of the 1989 hit, The Little Mermaid. Even though, the decision was supported by some, many white supremacists claimed this was “black washing” and the role truly belonged to a white redhead.
Disney revealed that 19-year-old R&B singer, Halle Bailey, will play the part of Ariel in the live-action version of Little Mermaid. Director, Rob Marshall, announced, “After an extensive search, it was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance- plus a glorious singing voice- all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role”.
The response to this announcement wasn’t heartwarming as hate tweets started flooding the internet and the hashtag “#NotMyAriel” became viral. According to a @PaolaF155150463, “It’s not a movie about mermaids…it’s about the 1989 Disney movie based on the story “The Little Mermaid” writer by Hans Christian Andersen where he describes white skin as blue eyes. Ariel is from DENMARK… Nordic… #NotMyAriel”.
It's not a movie about mermaids … it's about the 1989 Disney movie based on the story "The Little Mermaid" Written by Hans Christian Andersen where he describes white skin as blue eyes.
Ariel is from DENMARK … Nordic … #NotMyAriel #Itisnotinclusive pic.twitter.com/7fMNy2xhGI
— Paola Flores (@PaolaFl55150463) July 5, 2019
The harsh comments didn’t end here, @MikeandElio said, “And just like that @ Disney ruined the live action little mermaid. Fuck Disney #notmyariel”.
And just like that @ Disney ruined the live action little mermaid. Fuck Disney #notmyariel
— Mike and Elio (@MikeandElio) July 3, 2019
People also accused Disney of race bending – changing of a character’s perceived race or ethnicity during the adaptation of a work from one medium to another. They claimed that previously MJ’s role in Spider Man Homecoming was played by Zendaya, whereas, in the comics Mary Jane Watson, the eventual wife of Peter Parker, was a white redhead. This was yet another instance of Disney exhibiting race bending and “ruining” the movie.
— Holly Mackenzie Kentuckey (@HollyKentuckey) July 5, 2019
Some people went a step forward by bringing science into the argument, claiming it was scientifically impossible for a mermaid to be black. One person said, “Mermaids live in ocean. Underwater = limited sunlight. Limited sunlight = less melanin. Less melanin = lighter skin color. Because they live under water, which has no access to light beyond a certain depth, Ariel and every other mermaid in existence would be albino”.
Mermaids live in ocean. Underwater = limited sunlight. Limited sunlight = less melanin. Less melanin = lighter skin color. Because they live underwater, which has no access to light beyond a certain depth, Ariel and every other mermaid in existence would be albino.
— zach (@slicksliding) July 1, 2019
Another further added to the debate, saying, “Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t it physically impossible for Ariel to be black? She lives underwater, how would the sun get to her for her to produce melanin?!? Nobody thought this through…”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isnt it physically impossible for Ariel to be black? She lives underwater, how would the sun get to her for her to produce melanin?! Nobody thought this through..?
— mehki (@mekurrr) July 4, 2019
The pointless claims were, however, shut down by a medical student, who responded, “Just for y’all trying to use science to say Ariel can’t be black (emphasis on try…), Melanocyte production isn’t even dependent on sun exposure. It’s dependent on genetics (normally the TYR gene. various enzymes, & the overall conversion of dopaquinone to melanin).”
The filmmakers were also accused of “black washing” the remake. According to several comments, “White washing = a white actor (for example) gets a role for a black character. Black washing = the opposite. Disney’s Ariel is white. So black washing”.
#NotMyAriel blackwashing is as bad as whitewashing
— magetthedogs (@magetthedogs) July 4, 2019
These reactions to the character clearly show people are more concerned about the physical appearance of a character, rather than who can play the role better. Despite many efforts, we’re still stuck in a supremacy race where people would go to any lengths to support their futile ideologies.
There were, however, some souls that supported the switch and were really proud of Disney’s choice. They backed the decision by tweeting in favor of a black mermaid as it showed acceptance of the black race which has been discriminated against for a long time.
dream come true… 🧜🏽♀️🌊 pic.twitter.com/sndjYUS6wO
— chloe x halle (@chloexhalle) July 3, 2019
Imagine believing Jesus is white but believing a fictional mermaid can’t be Black.
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) July 4, 2019