Even if you don’t care about this in the slightest — I find it hard not to admit that this movie is a really big deal.
Disney was a huge part of the childhoods of many Millenials, I’m a kid of the 90s and wanted any and everything Disney. I had all the giant VHS tapes that I would pack up to take to my cousins’ house and collected all the toys that came in happy meals every time a new movie came out.
We were there for 2D animation favs like Aladdin, The Lion King, and Pocahontas. We witnessed the birth of 3D animation with Toy Story and A Bugs Life and one of the big classics that launched it all was 1989’s The Little Mermaid.
I wasn’t a lover of the original movie, I’m also not a fan of The Lion King (whatever I don’t wanna get into it lol but don’t hate me) and by the time I saw the film I had already been scarred by mermaids for life because of these two pop culture moments:
Splash — in this scene Daryl Hannah takes a bath and her WHOLE FIN UNFURLS IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA. I saw this movie at yet another time when I was channel surfing and saw the NYC skyline and was like “Yes I wanna watch this right now”. Anyway, I always sat way too close to the TV, and at the moment when she unfurled her fin MY FACE WAS DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF OUR BIG ASS TV and I was immediately fucking frantic.
No Ordinary Love by Sade — My dad has been in love with Sade like, forever. So her music was always played in the house and in the car, he always went to her concerts when she was in town, and occasionally we would see her videos. She is a fucking mermaid in the video for “No Ordinary Love” and this was another moment that made me terrified of mermaids.
…..but all of my fears of these sea creatures aside, I knew that when Halle Bailey was announced as the live-action Ariel that it would be a very big deal. So far, I have hated every single recent live-action version of the animated Disney films. Like the new Aladdin was HORRIBLE, The Lion King WAS super weird — but this one is going to be a fucking hit.
Those aforementioned movies didn’t have us Black girls in them. I do remember every Black girl in elementary school wanting to be Jasmine from Aladdin for Halloween or Pocahontas complete with the necklace and shoes — but that was because those were the closest girls in the Disney universe at that time that looked like us.
They were close to our skin tones, and their voices sounded like ours but we still had to buy the long straight wigs to complete the costume and in the end they still were not us.
This though — this live-action iteration of a fucking classic — where Ariel, THEE Ariel, isn’t so far out of reach — is important.
Halle Bailey is coming with her voice, her large beautiful eyes, her full lips, her brown skin, her Black nose, and her natural hair in locs to the live screen. For little Black girls to go and see her in this magical world where dreams come true, where she has cute little sea creature friends, where she gets to wear the gowns and giggle, and they don’t have to imagine she looks like them because she does.
They won’t have to go home and color over the white skin in the pictures with a brown crayon because she already has it, they won’t have to find a straight wig on Halloween because Ariel has natural hair too, and they won’t have to wonder what it would be like if Ariel was Black because she is and fuck that’s cool. Also….the voice, shout out to whoever leaked these clips and I know I shouldn’t be sharing but……
There are OF COURSE some flaws:
like lol why is her dad Javiar Bardem. I love him but lol what? Why can’t we have just a Black family?
Why is her Eric some racially ambiguous boy? which again adds to the film scene of Black and brown girls chasing dull white boys
Why is Awkwafina in this movie at all?
Who the fuck thought it was a great idea to cast Melissa as Ursula when Latrice Royale, Amber Riley, Titus Burguss, Alex Newell and Audra McDonald were sitting right there.
but for the moment — FOR THE MOMENT - I wanna focus on what the cool part is before tearing apart the rest.
Anyway, I’ll be seeing this movie because duh and I have a feeling the theatre will also be packed with Millenials seeing it at late-night showings cheering her on, remembering wishing to be Ariel, and finally seeing a version of those dreams come true.
P.S. Still terrified of mermaids and still think they are kleptomaniacs.