The Little Mermaid 2023: Stop Being Racist

Ellie Snodgrass

The live action version of The Little Mermaid has been highly anticipated since it was announced in 2016. The film, set to be released in 2023, has sparked controversy mainly due to the color of Ariel’s skin in the new film. Halle Bailey, playing the beloved princess, has received backlash from racists who have nothing better to do than to complain about a character in a fictional movie. According to certain people, Ariel (a mythical creature) shouldn’t be a woman of color. This reaction is nothing unusual. It’s quite common for racist individuals to be upset over a person of color playing a character who is “traditionally” white. This is a vicious cycle that seemingly has no end. 

Perhaps these disgruntled people are not looking beyond the surface.  If anybody upset that a woman of color is playing Ariel because it’s not “historically accurate”, they would be upset about the 1989 original version as well. The origins of the fairy tale are rumored to have come a metaphor for a queer man longing to be with another man who is out of his grasp. In the short story by Hans Christian Anderson first published in 1837, the mermaid pays the price of gaining legs by feeling like she’s walking on broken glass and at the end realizes she cannot be with the prince of her dreams and kills herself. If those concerned about historical accuracy were truly not just racists, they’d be upset that these big details of the original story were not also included in the film. 

Another argument against a black mermaid is that white children won’t be able to relate to her. There aren’t plenty of Disney movies with white princesses. It can be a struggle for a little girl to see herself as beautiful when she doesn’t see movies with anybody that looks like her in them. After the trailer for the new movie was released, parents on the internet posted their children’s reactions. It’s heartwarming to see how excited young black girls are that there’s finally a live action princess who looks like them. It seems that most of the folks arguing against the remake are grown adults. At the end of the day, does it really matter what they think if these little girls are this thrilled for some representation in the movie? The answer is no. Love will always be stronger than hate. 

Racism is a taught trait. Nobody is born racist. If hating people different from yourself is something you experience, most likely, you learned that from whoever it is you surround yourself with. Racism is fueled by anger and that is something that’s very hard to unteach. If something as small as black representation in a fairy tale “triggers” you, it would be safe to suggest you choose better individuals to be around or perhaps a new hobby. Nobody is going to be forced against their will to watch this movie. If it doesn’t seem like something you would be interested in, simply don’t see it. It must be draining to go about your day being so full of hate. Stop being racist, it’s embarrassing.  

And just to reiterate, this film is fictional.