By Matthew Creith | Published 1 week ago
As Disney gears up for its live-action remake of the 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid, the trailer for the new film has recently dropped. In it, actor and singer Halle Bailey plays Ariel, the mermaid who dreams of losing her fins to one day walk on land. However, it appears that an awful Disney record has been made since the trailer was dropped, as some fans seem to be upset with the fact that Ariel is a Black woman.
According to a report by ScreenNearYou, the live-action The Little Mermaid trailer that was dropped this week on YouTube has more dislikes than any other Disney trailer on record, coming in close to 1 million dislikes so far. It also has more than 104 million views since it debuted at Disney’s D23 Expo over the weekend, signaling that there is shared interest in viewing the teaser trailer but also possibly plenty of racists in the midst. With the original animated version of Ariel presented as a white European woman with red hair, having an actor like Halle Bailey step into the role seems to have put some viewers off.
Disney released the new trailer and first looks for The Little Mermaid over the weekend at a time that other projects were announced. Other noteworthy Disney events included Harrison Ford becoming a viral star after images of him hugging and laughing with former Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom costar Ke Huy Quan surfaced as they reunited at the event to promote the upcoming Indiana Jones 5. Pixar also unveiled its newest adventure, Elio, set in space where a boy is mistaken for an Intergalactic Ambassador to Earth.
But the first reveal of Halle Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid has seem to bring attention to something that Disney has been battling with for some time. In the early days of Disney animation, on through the mid-1990s, many of Disney’s cartoons and full-length animated feature films starred white women as Disney princesses, pretty much until Pocahontas and then primarily with Ming-Na Wen, who stepped in to fill the shoes of the titular character in 1998’s Mulan. This set off a new wave of movies that Disney produced starring a lead character that was a person of color, including The Princess and the Frog, Moana, and most recently Raya and the Last Dragon.
Since then, Disney has seemed to be pushing live-action remakes of many of its popular animated films, which have included Jon Favreau’s The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast that starred Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, and Aladdin that costarred Will Smith embodying the famous genie originally voiced by actor Robin Williams. With The Little Mermaid, Halle Bailey can be seen singing her heart out to “Part of Your World,” a popular song from the original animated movie. Racist viewers aside, she seems to nail the song in the teaser trailer, so Bailey may need to be preparing to be a new role model to children across the world when the film is released on May 26, 2023.
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