We’ve been here before. Back in 2019 when Disney announced a live-action remake of little mermaid Singer Halle Bailey would portray her, there was an instant buzz, a roaring negativity. There was also an immediate and warm welcome to the idea that this iconic mermaid would be photographed by a brown-skinned woman with natural hair styled in ‘locs’.
Now that the trailer has been dropped and seen at least 20 million times, it’s clear that this new version is in high demand. Young girls – and adults too – everywhere are crying tears of amazement and joy on Tiktok, Facebook or Twitter, posting their reactions to Disney pictures. “She’s brown, like me,” were the words of a little kid. The visuals are powerful, and so is Beyoncé’s certified Bailey voice. At the same time, when you scroll in the comments on the many stories discussing Bailey, it’s also clear that many people are unaware of the folk tales – and world history – that refer to and depict dark-skinned mermaids.
My original post (dated 2019) about the film included a number of images of beautiful fan art featuring brown-skinned mermaids. It also provided some historical context with a more global view.
As I wrote years ago: “Reading the comments under some artwork reveals that some users are unaware that the idea of water sprites, water gods or mermaids can be found in a variety of cultures. The truth is: mermaid stories cross all continents. In southern And West Africa before the conquest, there is a deity known as Mami Wata who – to some – is depicted as half woman half fish.The Smithsonian Museum of African Art has a great online platform dedicated to understanding the history of these important water deities, which has also been introduced to many countries On both sides of the Atlantic where humans were involuntarily enslaved and transported during the transatlantic slave trade.
The art in the Smithsonian’s collection features brown mermaids, indicative of how mermaids are seen in other cultures around the world.”
The Smithsonian’s website is still available, as are picture and coloring books on Amazon
When I was a kid in the ’80s I went to the movies with my mom to watch Ariel come out “Part of Your World,” I was long drawn to Disney’s version of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Simply put, as in the rewrite of the cartoon, that was fine. And the music (with the exception of a few racially questionable language/poetry choices) was memorable. The film’s soundtrack was the first CD I bought with my own money from Tower Records at the local mall. Many of those same songs will appear again in the new version. All that said, this new Ariel is a game changer. Jodi Benson, the voice actress behind the original Ariel, also gave Bayley the tag after the trailer premiered at D23.
The new release features new music by Lin Manual Miranda and acclaimed songwriter Alan Menken. We’ll also see Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, David Diggs as Sebastian, Awkwafina as Scuttle, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Jonah Hauer King as Prince Eric, and Jacob Tremblay as Flounder.
Disney knew what she was doing with Bailey’s cast — she’s been creating a more comprehensive path for her beloved stories, and she’s also been generating buzz for a potentially record-breaking 2023 release. exactly like the king lion The live-action remake (which, among many colorful faces, featured Beyoncé as the voice of the adult Nala and Chiwetel Ejiofor as The Scar) and the live-action Aladdin remake before that, featuring new voices and considering the full casting of each of the roles only enhanced the story features. good and make Disney millions more.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: True diversity, done for the right reasons, is good business.