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Why Shouldn’t Halle Bailey Be Ariel from the Little Mermaid?

Why Shouldn’t Halle Bailey Be Ariel from the Little Mermaid?

The Internet has exploded with negative reactions early this month after Disney announced that they will be casting Halle Bailey, a member of a sister-singing duo, for the part of Ariel from the Little Mermaid. The problem? She’s black. (Cue heads exploding). 

The casting has sparked several memes of Disney characters being recast in a different race (For example Maui and Moana as Caucasian). There are also tons of irrational hate sent towards the young actress. But why are people mad?

“It’s not sticking to the original”

If you have an issue with the reimagination not sticking to the original, it’s recommended that you look up the real story of the Little Mermaid. She was asked to kill the prince, not fall in love, kill. Then when he married someone else, she chose to let him live and went to the sea to die. The Disney animated film you’ve come to know is only book-to-film adaptation and they are entitled to reimagine the story again.

“Ariel is known for her red hair”

Fun fact about hair, black people can naturally have red hair too. Oh wait, you actually mean she’s supposed to be white. Well, if people want to have accurate casting maybe they should just look for a real mermaid. The little mermaid was meant to have blonde hair, not red. She also was supposed to have an actual mermaid tail and not two feet.

“Black people would be mad if Tiana was white”

This one doesn’t hold water (excuse the pun) at all. Have people actually forgotten that the Princess and the Frog were loosely adapted from a German fairytale titled The Frog Princess? That the princess was actually and originally white? Considering the origin, it’s safe to assume that no one would be upset if the reimagination portrayed her as a blonde with white skin (In fact, there are some who voiced their problem with Tiana being black). 

What would be problematic though is if she were made white and Disney maintained that she be based on Leah Chase, a real person whose culture and race has bearing on her story. Leah, similar to Tiana, became a famous Chef from New Orleans. So, in this case, her being black has significance to her story. Ariel, on the other hand, is a fairytale character who happens to be a mythical creature as well. Her skin color has no bearing to her story at all. She could be white, black, red, green, or blue. It doesn’t really matter.

“Why can’t they adapt another story with a black character instead?”

This is the only criticism that has made sense so far. Disney should adapt more culturally diverse stories like what they did with Moana. However, the sad reality is they want to milk the Disney princesses they already have a license too. They’re pumping out reimaginations to maintain their copyright over the characters and stories. But while new stories are welcome, it doesn’t mean that old ones cannot be reimagined to be inclusive as well.

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