MONTREAL: Disney may not have expected so many reactions after the Saturday, September 10 release of the teaser for its remake of The little Mermaidin which black actress Halle Bailey plays Ariel in a live-action adaptation.
Shortly after its release, the teaser sparked a heated debate about racism in the world of cinema. A choice seen differently among black children, and which has given rise to a trend TikTok full of emotion. We see videos of children ecstatic at discovering the face and skin color of the new little mermaid, which have gone viral on the social network.
“Mom, she’s black like me!”
In videos, along with hashtags #representationmatters (“representation matters”) or #Blackgirlmagicwe can see a black girl dressed as a princess or a little boy happy to see a princess with his skin color in a Disney film.
In one of these videos, little Emery, well settled on a sofa, suddenly gets up when she sees actress Halle Bailey in the role of Ariel.
“I think she’s black!” she says. “Black Ariel is cute!”
“His skin… it looks like mine. She’s dark like me,” notes another child enthusiastically as other girls can be seen covering their faces and jumping for joy. “That’s why representation matters! We can’t wait to watch this movie,” one parent wrote below their video.
Comedian Halle Bailey posted and commented on these images on her Instagram account: “People have been sending me these reactions all weekend and I’m really impressed.”
“I don’t want a white Pocahontas”
On the other hand, many Internet users have denounced a choice which, according to them, does not respect the initial character. “She doesn’t look like Ariel”, “the Little Mermaid is white, period”, “Ariel has blue eyes, white skin and red hair. Disney disappoints me,” another person tweeted, along with the hashtag #NotMyAriel (“that’s not my Ariel”).
Some even decree that by living in the depths, Ariel’s skin should be white, while others assure the contrary that by living in the water, the mermaid’s skin is very exposed to the sun.
Opponents of Halle Bailey often deny being racist, and prefer to define themselves as “critical”. “Similarly, I don’t want a black or Mexican Mulan. From a white Pocahontas, an Asian Belle or a native american “comments a user.
On the other hand, Halle Bailey claimed that people who are against a black Ariel don’t understand “what this does for us, for our community, for all the little black and brown girls who are going to see themselves on screen”, when from an interview with the magazine Variety.
“I want the little girl in me and the little girls like me who watch the movie to know that they are special and should be a princess in every way,” she added.