Commentary: Big Controversy Over The Little Mermaid

Kayla Gaynor, Staff Writer

Halle Bailey Has Been Cast as Everyone’s Favorite Mermaid, But Unfortunately, Not Everyone is Happy About it.

Who would’ve thought that the color of a fictional mermaid’s skin would cause controversy? I know I didn’t. Ever since Disney released the teaser trailer for The Little Mermaid on Saturday, September 10, 2022, there has been a lot of comments on it, many positive, some negative. There are a number of people actually upset by the choice of lead actress Halle Bailey. You may be wondering, “Why is the actress getting hate for playing the little mermaid? Is she a bad actor?” The answer is no, she is not a bad actor. There are people who are getting angry simply because Halle Bailey isn’t white.

The original “Little Mermaid” story was written by Hans Christian Andersen and first published in 1837. Some people are concerned with the fact that Disney isn’t “sticking to the original story.” But the thing is, the 1989 animated version of The Little Mermaid doesn’t follow the original version either, and it seems no one had an issue with that. Ariel never had a name in the original story. She was only referred to as “The Little Mermaid.” Prince Eric originally had dark eyes, but in the 1989 animation his eyes are blue. Considering Ariel is a fictional character, a mermaid, this should not be a problem. There are parents who have commented on social media that when this film is released, it is going to “ruin kids’ childhoods.” There is even a hashtag trending, “#notmyariel.” Meanwhile, when children are shown this teaser trailer, they are nothing but excited. Seven-year-old Ke’Iona Shanks watched the teaser trailer as her mother recorded it and uploaded it to TikTok, and her response in the video was: “She’s black? Yay!”

Many other parents posted their children’s positive reactions on the trailer, and the majority of the comments were positive as well. Everywhere online, Halle Bailey playing Ariel is actually very inspiring for younger children. There should not be problems like this happening in the world today. Any actress should be able to play Ariel (or any other role for that matter), no matter the race, gender, or ethnicity.