Trust me, and it is not always about you.
In the 1989 animated movie, “The Little Mermaid,” you have a story about a young mermaid named Ariel who longs to be human. She is so fascinated with the idea that she would be able to walk, run, eat human food, and love another human. The only problem is her father forbids her from going to the surface and interacting with humans.
Ariel is a princess, and her father is King Triton, ruler of the seas.
To get the process done, she consults a sea witch named Ursula, who, with the wave of her hand or some other magical spell, can make this wish come true for Ariel. Ariel must only agree with losing her voice to get the man of her dreams, Prince Eric. Prince Eric is human. So, Ariel signs a contract and instantly gains legs and loses her voice. Ariel is now a human.
So, she washes up on the shore, and Prince Eric rescues her. During this time, Ariel tries to get Prince Eric to like her, which she does, but she does not know that Ariel has to get Prince Eric to kiss her in three days, or she will turn back into a mermaid and become Ursula’s slave. Ursala tries hard to stop the kiss by summoning her to electric eels, Flotsam and Jetsam to intercede every time Ariel and Prince Eric try to kiss. Ursula gets upset and, with Ariel’s voice, gets Prince Eric to come to her. Ursula puts a spell on Eric, forgetting Ariel and deciding that He and Vanessa (Ursula in disguise) should get married.
Ariel finds out, and King Triton, her father, tries to stop the wedding. At the end of the movie, the place where Ariel’s voice was stored breaks, and her voice is recovered from Ursula, who King Triton kills, and Prince Eric and Ariel are married. That is the end of the story…. Or is it?
The origins of The Little Mermaid
I am here for a different topic. This is an original story written by Han Christian Andersen. I briefly wrote about him in a Hubpages article titled “Is Disney Princess Culture Messing With Our Daughters.” In the article, I talk about how Disney traps a girl into thinking she needs a man to get married. I will not get into it because this article will not reflect my views about the princess culture of Disney. The original story written by Andersen is far from the adaptation that Disney has of the story. One thing these two adaptations have is that all characters of the story are white.
Disney decided to flip the script three years ago, and the actress in this new live movie is Black. Because the actress, played by Halle Bailey (not Berry, a different actress), is black, the Little Mermaid fan community went berserk. This is the only way I can describe the tantrum, BERSERK!!!
So, what is the problem?
Before I get into the so-called problem, I want to explain my view: I have no problem with the new version of The Little Mermaid “AT ALL!!” (See how I had to put it in all caps, quotation marks, and a couple of exclamation points for a little extra flavor?)
But to be serious….
People, adults in general, have this little problem called entitlement. Entitlement happens when you are a certain culture, race, religion, or sexual orientation, and you know from your heart that when a thing happens, it is about you, and everybody who looks and talks like you needs to take a backseat to your shine. Note, I have not pointed any fingers yet because we could all be guilty of it. It is a form of hatred at its finest, and you may not be aware that you are even committing a crime.
In the case of the three Little Mermaids (the original book and the two Disney adaptations), to some people, two versions are correct, and the other is wrong. People point fingers at the one starring Halle Bailey because she is black. “This is not the story of my youth,” some people say. On Quora, one writer gave a whole dissertation on why people are upset, which ended up being one big racist remark.
“Can’t we all just get along”?
This was a famous quote from Rodney King. He made this quote after the Los Angeles riots, and I am saying it here. I understand that people have a hard time dealing with change. Yes, Ariel in both the book and in the animated movie is white, but I believe that Disney is allowed to make changes where they are due. They do own the rights to the story, which is a Danish story. I am sure that Han Christian Andersen’s descendants could care less about how the story is depicted, as long as he is recognized as the original writer of the story (ever heard of a thing called copyright). To be honest, they are several adaptions of the story, and no one to my knowledge is complaining about any of them, except the one starring Ms. Bailey.
You know what?
I find it laughable. Why? The live-action movie of “The Little Mermaid” will not be in theaters until May 2023. The trailer was introduced to the public last week. Even before the trailer, Disney announced who would be playing the lead role. At that moment, the social media buzz was present, and the haters came out of the woodwork. Most of the comments I read were from the Twitter community. People wanted to know why Ariel’s skin was brown, and those in the black community wanted to know why Ariel had brown hair instead of her signature red color. I have not made this type of comment yet, but I bet someone is concerned about other things, such as “what color are Ariel’s sisters,” “What color is King Triton,” and “what color is Prince Eric.” To that, I have to ask, “Does it matter?”
So, I’ll return to my original question and title, “Why Complain?”
On second thought, a question and a bit of advice, What does it matter to you? Disney is Disney. With the rise in prices for park admission, food, souvenirs, and resort stays, complaining about Ariel’s color or the actress’s race should be the last thing on your mind. I always tell people that if you dislike something, especially anything in the entertainment industry, do not go. You do not have to partake in the activity. It is not necessary for the well-being of your life except to make you feel good.
I plan on going, not because Ariel looks like me. I am going because it is a Disney movie. I personally do not care what Ariel looks like on the outside. As long as Ariel has the same purity and innocence as in the animated movie, I will have front-row seats. I hope I can take my niece and nephew, who will be 3 and 2 by the time this movie hits the theaters. If I do not feel like going, I hope Disney + will steam it simultaneously. I can then sit in my own space in my pajamas, pop some popcorn, snuggle under a blanket, and enjoy.