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The Controversy Surrounding The Little Mermaid

Jonah Pappas

Staff Writer

The Little Mermaid, a beloved animated classic, has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide since its release in 1989. However, the upcoming live-action remake of the film has been met with lots of criticism due to some changes made to the original story. One of the most controversial changes is the casting of Halle Bailey, a young black actress, as Ariel, the titular character who is traditionally depicted as a white redhead. While many fans have praised the casting as a step towards greater representation and diversity in Hollywood, others have criticized the decision as a departure from the original character and story.

This debate has led to heated altercations online, with some fans even calling for a boycott. However, others have pointed out that the original story was based on a fairytale, which never specifies any particular race or ethnicity, and that casting Bailey is a natural evolution of the story for modern audiences. Another source of dispute surrounding the film is the depiction of Ursula, the villainous sea witch, who is the film's main antagonist. In the original movie, Ursula is portrayed as a larger, darker-skinned character with exaggerated features that, some critics have argued, perpetuate harmful stereotypes. In the live-action remake, Ursula will be played by Melissa McCarthy, a white actress, and the character's appearance has been redesigned to be less overtly stereotypical. Not only are there racial stereotypes involved in Ursula’s character design but there are also harmful ideas about elderly people.

However, some fans have still criticized for missing the opportunity to cast a black actress in the role and address the harmful stereotypes of the original character. Despite the controversy, Disney has stood by its casting decisions and emphasized the importance of representation and diversity in their films. Ultimately, the controversy surrounding the Little Mermaid remake highlights the ongoing debates around representation, diversity, and inclusivity in Hollywood. While some fans may resist deviation from the original story, others see these changes as essential to creating a more inclusive and representative environment for all audiences.


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