Why are we still talking about Halle Bailey and not The Little Mermaid live-action? Let’s think about it and read the reviews, comments, and reactions. We keep talking about the same racial issue since more than a year ago when they announced the film and gave the news that Halle would be the one in charge of starring in it.
What About the Movie?
For those of us who like movies, we want to read about the special effects, the similarities with the Disney animated version, the costumes, the makeup, the songs, how much vibe it gives us from our childhood, and the updated messages so that we no longer melt the traditional ones, among other things. But why are we still so bothered by Halle’s essence in the film, as if it was a surprise that she was the perfect one to portray Ariel?
The discourse we read when they announced her participation is still the same now, as if this time racism has increased, rather than decreased. We had a long time, too long if you ask me, to digest that Ariel would belong to a different race; however, this does not make her different from how we knew her. This tells us that Disney was not always right when it came to introducing us to their “model” princesses.
We had plenty of time to assimilate the idea if it bothered us so much… but since this didn’t happen, we looked for any “detail” in the actress to keep talking about her and not exactly about the movie.
Would This Happen with a White Actress?
Create controversy because of her skin color instead of her work. Talk about her as a woman and not as an actress; talk about her body, her skin, and whether she was the “perfect” Ariel or not, rather than her involvement as one of Disney’s most important princesses.
Would the interviews still revolve around the racism she has received? Let’s hear it, all the questions Halle receives are about her skin color, how she has dealt with the criticism, and if she believes she meets fans’ expectations. No one ever, or almost no one, asked her about the details of the film, about how he learned the script perhaps, or what his day-to-day life was like on the set. Anything at all.
The subject was always her, and we never thought about the pressure and insecurities we can put on someone with these comments. We never thought about all the pain we can cause with racism, which is unfortunately still normalized to this day.
We never wanted to create a guide to talk about The Little Mermaid, nor did we want to talk about what we expected from the film or maybe the good memories the story could bring back. We all wanted to talk about Halle and each of the movements that might seem “wrong” to put them as pretexts and say: “She is not the Ariel we need.”
If we think about it… yes, she is the Ariel we need, and we need her very much; she uncovered for us all the racism and misogyny that we dare not break. We need it because it showed us that we are not fit for our time, on the contrary, it seems that we have gone back two hundred years in time, and we have not evolved as people, much less as humans.
I want to read about cinema, not about her skin complexion. I want to read a true opinion about The Little Mermaid that has nothing to do with whether its protagonist is Latina, Asian, or African-American. Race was already the first lesson that the live-action of The Little Mermaid left us with, and yes, it was a hard blow to our traditionalism… but then, what else is there to talk about?
It should be about movies, because, gentle reminder, we don’t talk about bodies other than our own EVER.
Story written in Spanish by Kate Nateras in Cultura Colectiva