People are attacking black Ariel with 'mermaid science'

People are attacking black Ariel with 'mermaid science'

When it was announced that a live-action remake of The Little Mermaid was underway and that Halle Bailey, a black actress and singer, had landed the starring role as Ariel - fans were totally and utterly divided. In fact, the day the announcement was made, the hashtag '#NotMyAriel' start trending within hours.

While many applauded Disney for taking it upon themselves to produce a modern and more inclusive retelling of a classic tale, others were decidedly resentful about the casting choice.

I mean, how could a formerly animated and purely fictional character with red hair and pale skin possibly be played by an African American actress, the critics argued.

If you're a fan of live-action Disney movies, you'll be aware that The Lion King will be released later this month. Here's another look at the trailer for the highly anticipated remake:

In fact, so enraged were the naysayers by news of the 19-year-old's starring role in the upcoming Disney flick that they even started using 'mermaid science' to back up their flimsy arguments.

Yes, you read right: 'mermaid science', because apparently, that's a thing.

"Mermaids live in ocean," one Twitter user argued based on their evidently well-researched understanding of 'mermaid science'. "Underwater = limited sunlight. Limited sunlight = less melanin. Less melanin = lighter skin color. Because they live underwater, which has no access to light beyond a certain depth, Ariel and every other mermaid in existence would be albino."

First off, if we're basing our argument on the 'correct' skin colour of merpeople on how much sunlight they're exposed to, are we really going to ignore the fact that mermaids are often depicted sunbathing on rocks practically naked?

Of course, everyone has a right to express their own opinions on the direction that filmmakers take and whether or not it will do the movie justice.

halle bailey Credit: Getty

But just don't be disingenuous about it. If you don't want Ariel to be depicted as a dark-skinned character, then be honest about why that is rather than using the kind of science that clearly has no relevance in a world of fantasy and mythical beings.

Also, if fans of the original movie are so outraged about Disney veering away from the animated version purely because they've cast a darker actress to play the role, then they should be equally upset about how much of a departure the 1990 film was from Hans Christian Andersen's original telling of the story - as gory and disturbing as it is.

In one part of Andersen's tale, Ariel agrees to have her tail mutilated to such an extent that her legs feel like she's "treading upon knife blades so sharp that blood must flow". Want that in your Disney movie? No? Then shush.

Ultimately, The Little Mermaid is a movie about a young demihuman who falls in love and is compelled to make big sacrifices - race really has no part to play in the story.