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After singer Halle Bailey was announced as the new Ariel in Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, many fans quickly got to work, creating art depicting the young actress in her new role.
The casting has caused controversy since its announcement, as Bailey is a Black girl with dreadlocks, and in the original animation, Ariel was a white girl with red hair.
But Twitter users quickly fixed that and re-drew the cartoon to show critics that though mermaids do not exist, if they did, they could also be Black girls with dreads.
Bailey is half of the singing duo Chloe x Halle and was discovered by pop icon Beyoncé. She has released music and appears on the Freeform Show Grown-ish with her older sister, Chloe.
Since her casting, a clip of the 19-year-old singing “Unforgettable” has made its way around Twitter, in hopes to further convince people that she was perfect for the role.
But still, some people were less than impressed, and #notmyAriel began to trend, pointing to the fact that the color of Bailey’s skin should have been a factor in the casting.
“I am sorry but Disney you went to far seriously… If a White or Latino played Mulan or Pocahontas it would have the same reactions periot so stop pulling the race card and Disney get your shit together ! #NotMyAriel,” said @ SHAKITINILOCA
“Now those same ones want to tell me I’m racist cause I want a similar Ariel to the cartoon? Sick,” said @alekzya
When Naomi was cast as Jasmine there was hate and I didn’t understand why since she was so similar to her, the reason? she wasn’t coloured enough, that was about race, now those same ones want to tell me I’m racist cause I want a similar Ariel to the cartoon? Sick #NotMyAriel— Ale Raviela (@alekzya) July 5, 2019
“Disney, please stop,” said @galazzydragon
#NotMyAriel Disney, please stop :/— viollence (@galaxxydragon) July 5, 2019
However, most people seemed in favor of her receiving the role, and Bailey has received massive support from celebrities and fans alike.
Because, as one user pointed out, unlike the Disney Princess Tiana, whose race was central to her story of being a Black woman trying to open up a restaurant in a jazz-era New Orleans, race is not central to Ariel’s story. Ariel is a mermaid, a fictional character, whose only casting requirements were to be able to sing and have red hair.
“This is ridiculous and grossly inaccurate casting. Ariel has a fish bottom half, Halle Bailey has two functioning legs I have literally seen her walking. How are you going to give a fish bottom role to someone who can literally fucking walk around,” tweeted @ Helllvetika
This is ridiculous and grossly inaccurate casting. Ariel has a fish bottom half, Halle Bailey has two functioning legs I have literally seen her walking. How are you going to give a fish bottom role to someone who can literally fucking walk around https://t.co/OGrNW5YFWi— Andy O (@Helllvetika) July 3, 2019
“The actress cast as Ariel can sing, act, dance, and is beautiful. But racists (yes, that extreme irritation you feel is racism) are like MeRmAIds CaN’T Be bLacK! Well, crabs can’t talk so we’re all stretching here. Shut up,” said @LRGiles
The actress cast as Ariel can sing, act, dance, and is beautiful. But racists (yes, that extreme irritation you feel is racism) are like MeRmAIds CaN’T Be bLacK!— Lamar Giles (@LRGiles) July 3, 2019
Well, crabs can’t talk so we’re all stretching here. Shut up. https://t.co/Q5oAdwMU2a
“White people complaining they cast a black girl as Ariel: Disney created 49 films from 1937-2009 before delivering their first black princess with Tiana. Black girls watched an entire catalog NEVER seeing themselves. For 70 years. You spoiled, racist brats,” tweeted author @ HillaryMonahan.
White people complaining they cast a black girl as Ariel: Disney created 49 films from 1937-2009 before delivering their first black princess with Tiana. Black girls watched an entire catalog NEVER seeing themselves. For 70 years.— Hillary Monahan (@HillaryMonahan) July 3, 2019
You spoiled, racist brats.
“Our Ariel @chloexhalle PERFECT choice. congratssss Halle my love,” tweeted singer-actress Janelle Monáe.
“My daughters generation little mermaid is BLACK WITH LOCS!!!!!!!! WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!!,” said singer Kehlani.
In regards to the casting decision, director Rob Marshall in a statement:
“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.”
Bailey joins singer Brandy as being the only two live-action Black princesses’ in Disney history.
Dominic-Madori Davis is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California. She covers the internet, politics, and social issues.