The Little Mermaid petition against Halle Bailey is not racist

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Earlier today Disney announced that they cast Halle Bailey as Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Some people weren’t happy with this choice and created a petition. But is it racist?

Halle Bailey may have the voice of an angel and look like she’s a living breathing Disney princess. One would only need to see a brief clip on her to be convinced that she definitely belongs in Disney movie, but some fans are not so certain that the little mermaid is the right choice.

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Moments after the announcement a user called Brit Harper created a petition asking that Disney reconsider their choice in casting Halle Bailey as Ariel in the live-action Little Mermaid movie. That petition now has over 1000 signatures.

The Little Mermaid petition: Remove Halle Bailey as Ariel

“Recently it has been announced that the very talented actress/singer, Halle Bailey, has been cast as Ariel in the Disney live action The Little Mermaid. While most of us are all for diversity and I’m sure she can sing and act the part, Ariel is ICONICALLY a red head. Why take this away from the fans?

Jasmine in the new live action Aladdin had to be cast as a true Middle Easterner, and the voices of the lions in the new Lion King HAD to be black. Why can Ariel not stay red headed, blue eyed white girl. 

There’s nothing wrong with being proud to be ANY race. Black, white, Asian, Latino, etc. Just like Mulan is Asian with black hair and brown eyes, and HOPEFULLY Pocahontas is Native American. Ariel is our red headed princess. Little red headed white girls shouldn’t have to feel ashamed or jipped.”

If you want a black princess, let’s do Princess and The Frog. I’m sure Halle would be great in it. But Ariel is white, red headed, and blue eyed.”

The director of the live-action remake of Disney’s The Little Mermaid elaborated on why he thought Halle Bailey was perfect for the role. Rob Marshall said, “after an extensive search, it was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance – plus a glorious singing voice – all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role.”

Is it racist?

The petition has caused a quite a stir on the internet with people calling the creator racist white-trash among other really nasty things. But is the petition racist in anyway? No, I think it has more to do with Ariel’s ultra rare look.

Ariel is red haired and blue eyed which is the rarest combination of hair and eye colour on Earth, but they are definitely over represented in entertainment. Disney already has a lot wonderful and beautiful red haired girls like Anna (Frozen), Merida (Brave), Giselle (Enchanted) but only one African beauty, Tianna (Princess and the Frog). So, understandably, Disney is trying to diversify their live-action line-up.

Halle Balle is Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid | Sausage Roll

So, no, this petition isn’t racist, just unnecessary. I completely understand why people are upset about the new announcement. They feel like the new producers don’t care enough about the character to portray her as she was both written and animated. This is not a race issue as it is common for people from all walks of life to speak out about changes to characters that they like. There was backlash when Disney announced that they cast Naomi Scott as Jasmine in the live-action Aladdin remake. People were furious because she was too white, and not middle eastern enough. People were outraged with Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone because she wasn’t black enough. Then when she put on a put on make-up to look a bit darker, she was accused of black facing.

The Little Mermaid petition isn’t racist. In fact, it’s not about racism, it’s about people wanting things to portrayed correctly. But is changing Ariel from a red haired, blue eyed, white girl into a soulful black woman such a bad thing? I don’t think so. Like I said, look at the girl! If we ignore her skin colour she is basically the real life embodiment of Ariel.

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