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MOVIES

‘The Little Mermaid’ and the importance of representing all childhoods in Disney classics

Por: Javier Cisneros 14 de septiembre de 2022

After the release of the new trailer of ‘The Little Mermaid,’ with Halle Bailey, racist comments took over social networks.

Disney has released the first teaser of the live-action of The Little Mermaid, where you can see Ariel, played by Halle Bailey, traveling the depths of the ocean and singing the endearing hit, “Part of your World,” while wearing a long braided hair in reddish tones.

Unfortunately, this film, which will be released next year, did not have the entire support of the public, since just a few days after the teaser was released, it already had more than a million dislikes on YouTube. And although it may seem just a bad joke, the reason for this is that there are people who do not agree with the skin color of the protagonist, just like that, as if we were going back several decades ago.

The importance of representation

Let’s be honest, the world of Disney princesses has been characterized by having young white girls with hegemonic bodies that look practically the same, but with different colored hair and clothes.

In this new production, Ariel’s appearance changes radically to represent another type of viewer who has remained invisible for years. It’s targeted to empower a young group who have not been able to identify themselves with the characters they have grown up with, in the face of the recurring protagonism of white faces. Halle Bailey was chosen by Disney to break down these prejudices and give power and voice to these minorities.

Racism took over the networks

Faced with these changes, social networks have witnessed thousands of comments with an impressive racist charge that makes us go back, not one or two, but thousands of years ago, to the times when intolerance reigned the world and no, it is not the fact of saying that respect the original image that had previously presented us with the daughter of Neptune, because, what do you think...? The Little Mermaid is based on a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, originally published in 1837, which means that Ariel has had different designs throughout the dozens of stories to her name.

We must remember that, in the past, it was thought that the protagonists of classic stories could only be portrayed by white people. It is necessary and very important to update the stories we grew up with so that everyone can feel represented. It is worth mentioning that there are millions of Disney fans all over the world. These fans come from all backgrounds, there are people of different genders, ages, skin, complexion, ancestry, ethnicity, and culture, a fact that makes it essential to represent them all in these classics.

Some people will say that these representations could create new princesses or new characters that tell different stories without changing the original ones, but it is a fact that classics have more impact on audiences. It’s also worth remembering that some new franchises fail to achieve the popularity that caused the great classics, for this same reason, and to cause a real ideological change, it is much better to update the films that are loved and have a place in the taste of the people.

Besides the fact that Ariel’s skin color or ethnicity does not affect the plot of the movie at all, we’ve seen so far how little girls and boys are happy to feel represented by one of their favorite characters.

Girls react to the The Little Mermaid teaser

Before this first approach to the teaser of the film, dozens of black girls and women took over the Internet and showed the excitement of being represented for the first time in a live-action feature film in the world of Disney princesses.

Several videos went viral and demonstrated how powerful representations can be, as these little girls could not contain the excitement of seeing that one of their favorite princesses had the same skin tone as them.

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva News


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