Halle Bailey and Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid Remake Controversy

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Updated Sep 14, 2022 at 05:26PM EDT by Zach.

Added Jul 05, 2019 at 12:52PM EDT by Adam.

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Overview

The Little Mermaid Remake Controversy refers to the mixed reactions surrounding the casting choice of Black actress Halle Bailey as Ariel in the 2023 live-action remake of Disney's The Little Mermaid. Several people expressed outrage that Ariel would not be white, as she was in the 1989 animated film, leading to controversy and news coverage.

Background

On July 3rd, Disney announced they had cast Halle Bailey of R&B duo Chloe and Halle to play Ariel in its upcoming live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid.[1] Shortly after the announcement, some Twitter users voiced their displeasure with the casting choice because Ariel was portrayed as white in the 1989 animated film and Bailey is a black actress. Twitter user @woo-ahhh[2] tweeted "Us white girls, who grew up with The Little Mermaid, deserved a true-to-color Ariel. Disney, you made a huge mistake by hiring Halle Bailey. This is going in the TRASH," gaining a stark ratio of 5,600 replies to 170 retweets before her account was suspended (shown below).


Follow Rebeccs @woo_ahhh Us white girls, who grew up with The Little Mermaid, deserved a true-to-color Ariel. Disney, you made a huge mistake by hiring Halle Bailey. This is going in the TRASH DVD GUIDE r Suy THE LITTLE MERMAID

Developments

The tweet garnered much criticism and mockery from Twitter users. Many joked that it was silly to complain about the character's skin color when there were many other fantastical elements to the story. Twitter user @clearstarkswift[3] called that out, gaining over 180 retweets and 3,900 likes (shown below, left). Twitter user @CaitlinMoran[4] tweeted that considering the other elements of the film, it was odd that she wasn't black in the first place, gaining over 2,000 retweets and 16,000 likes (shown below, right).


claire Follow @clearstarkswift Replying to @woo_ahhh Ariel is a fantasy made up creature and you're telling me the most unrealistic thing about the new Ariel is her skin color.... girl... 8:43 PM 3 Jul 2019 Caitlin Moran Follow @caitlinmoran Fact box: the Little Mermaid lives on a TROPICAL CORAL REEF with a calypso- singing lobster with a strong Jamaican accent. When you think about it, it's bizarre she was white the first time around. 4:14 AM 4 Jul 2019

On July 4th, Twitter user @Zhyar199[5] created a petition to change the actress to a white Ariel, gaining over 11,000 replies to 300 retweets (shown below). That day, BET[6] published an article titled "Racists Are Big Mad That A Black Girl Is Playing Ariel In ‘The Little Mermaid’," highlight several tweets criticizing the casting. Others started a #NotMyAriel hashtag.[8]


Zhyar Follow @Zhyar199 first of all I'm not a racist i love halle, but i won't let Disney ruin our childhood memories so i started a petition to get justice for ariel and our childhood memories, i prefer Someone who looks similar to the real one Petition chng.it/qSd8hVX5kz #Ariel #TheLittleMermaid 4

Meanwhile, tweeted their support of the casting decision, posting fan art of a black Ariel. Popular examples include pieces posted by @nilaffle, which gained over 19,000 retweets and 68,000 likes (shown below, left), and @ENFANT_NORINO5, which gained over 150 likes (shown below, right).


Nilah Magruder Follow @nilaffle Watch and you'll see Some day I'll be Part of your world #TheLittleMermaid 2:21 AM 4 Jul 2019 SMOKING.GUN_E N T Follow @ENFANT_NOIRNO5 GIR By Alice X. Zhang Great casting choice. #littlemermaid #blackgirlmermaid #ariel ALICEXZ COM ART BY ALICE X. ZHANG

Also on July 4th, writer Matt Walsh posted a tweet[7] criticizing a BET article about the controversy, claiming that two of the six tweets highlighted in the article were posted by "anonymous accounts with 10 followers." That day, the tweet gained over 5,200 likes and 1,200 retweets.


Matt Walsh @MattWalshBlog story about all the "racists" "big mad" that Ariel is white. They compiled 6 tweets to prove the outrage exists. Two are from anonymous accounts with 10 followers. Two are from BET did who are non-white people. This is the faux-iest faux-outrage ever. Racists Are Big Mad That A Black Girl Is Playing Ariel In 'The Little.. Halle Bailey was cast as the fictional mermaid in Disney's live-action remake bet.com 8:47 AM 5 Jul 2019 1,232 Retweets 5,237 Likes 327 25.2K t 1.2K Tweet your reply Matt Walsh @MattWalshBlog 6h Meanwhile Complex did an entire article about one unknown Twitter user who goes by the handle @Woo ahhh. complex.com/pop-culture/20... 15 381 1 42

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