It was announced on Wednesday that Halle Bailey – one half of musical sister duo Chloe x Halle – has been cast to play Ariel in upcoming live action Disney movie The Little Mermaid. As expected, white people are deep in their feelings and showing their racism at this choice. Black Twitter is celebrating and telling everyone else to die mad about it.
This was another story that made me make this face:
Before everyone gets super heated and jumps all over my comments and mentions calling me a hater, hear me out. I’m very happy for Halle getting this role. I think she’s an extraordinarily talented young woman and will do an amazing job. I hope this role only furthers her career and opens more doors for her and all the people behind her.
What confuses me is why did Disney suddenly decide that Ariel is black and why this particular movie?
Every other live action movie, Disney has tried to get every other detail of their movies down to a T through casting and costuming. Look at Beauty and the Beast. Look at Aladdin. Even last year, Pixar movie Ralph Breaks the Internet features a very white Ariel.
The only reach I could make is that maybe Disney wants to get more politically topical with Ursula (rumored to be played by Melissa McCarthy) stealing her voice as a metaphor for the way that white people steal the black narrative all the time.
That aside, I feel this going in a similar direction to The Princess and The Frog. We had a movie that finally had a black princess only to have Tiana as a frog for the majority of the movie. Ten years later, we have a black woman playing a princess who is silenced for the better half of the movie. I fear that this little bit of black representation is all that Disney is going to give us before calling it a day and patting themselves on the back for their “progressive” move.
Disney is still coming out with animated movies. For the future, instead of giving a long existing role to a person of color in the name of diversity, can they please finally give us our own fucking narrative? There are so many unexplored narratives in the African diaspora.
I’m ready for black princesses that stand of their own right and of their own stories.
I’m ready for productions with black people working on every bit of it from the script to the animation.
I’m ready for something to take place in Africa that ISN’T The Lion King (no shade to The Lion King).
I’m ready for literal black girl magic with a touch of whimsy in the way that Disney Princess movies do.
I’m ready for the Disney Princess equivalent of what Marvel did for Black Panther.
The numbers have already shown that these movies will sell, so why not?
I’m still going to go see this movie. Again, I’m happy for Halle and wish her nothing but success amidst the haters and the controversy, but looking to the future of Disney movies, much like Ariel, I want more.