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Black Ariel: Casting a New Mermaid


halle-split

As I was browsing through social media this morning, I stumbled into a series of “Disney-Inspired” mock posters, no doubt designed to make fun of, or criticize, Disney’s casting choice for The Little Mermaid. While in the first Disney film Ariel was drawn as a white, blue-eyed redhead, the casting for the live-action adaptation that we have all been expected since Disney began dabbling in the creation of a “Disney Cinematic Universe” was Halle Bailey, a young R&B singer and one half of the Chloe X Halle duo. She also happens to have black skin.

Predictably, this set the Internet ablaze, with many saying that they would boycott the film and others calling Disney racist while others still praised the company for its forward-thinking casting and sense of inclusiveness. These mock posters I stumbled into were part of this reactionary movement, and while they might *seem* at first as a “funny” jab from the anti-Halle camp towards Disney, these posters actually say a lot more about the mindset of those who created them and how they see media and media representation than they say about Disney. These posters fail to take into consideration everything that makes the characters who and what they are, and everything that makes Ariel who and what she is. In his/her haste to hunt for lulz, the creators of the posters show a deep misunderstanding of identity, character design, storytelling, and narrative development.

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