The Backlash over 'Little Mermaid' Casting Shows Exactly Why We Need a Black Ariel Today


With a long list of live-action remakes in the works, Disney is now heading into a new era of empowering characters and it’s dreaming up fuller plot lines than what we’ve seen from the studio’s archive of animated movies. While fans sang the praises of Naomi Scott‘s performance as Princess Jasmine in the new Aladdin, elsewhere, the hashtag #NotMyAriel began trending on Twitter recently after Halle Bailey, an African American actress and R&B singer, was announced as Ariel in the upcoming reboot of The Little Mermaid.

Threatening to boycott the new movie directed by Rob Marshall, certain fans of the 1989 animated film have taken to social media to express disappointment in the casting, arguing that Bailey’s appearance does not resemble that of the red-haired, fair-skinned mermaid from the original Disney cartoon.

“My problem with [Bailey as] Ariel is she’s completely different to what her original design is,” one Twitter user writes. “I’m sorry but if you want a black Little Mermaid, make a spin-off or another Little Mermaid story.”

Others have even attempted to use “science” to explain why they think the role should be played by a Caucasian actor. “Mermaids live in ocean. Underwater = limited sunlight. Limited sunlight = less melanin. Less melanin = lighter skin color,” reads one tweet. “Because they live underwater, which has no access to light beyond a certain depth, Ariel and every other mermaid in existence would be albino.”