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Beyonce's Protégé Halle Bailey Cast as 'Little Mermaid' Sparks Racist Reactions

Mary Scott
Jul 05, 2019
02:56 P.M.
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Twitter is divided as trolls kick against the casting of Beyoncé protégé Halle Bailey as the lead character in an upcoming live remake of Disney's “The Little Mermaid” while others come to her defense.


News of Halle’s casting broke earlier this week, but trolls are already hard at work trying to prove that the 19-year-old is not a good fit because she’s black.


The Little Mermaid” is a fairytale initially written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen and first published in 1837. It tells the story of a young mermaid who gives up her life and love to attain moral purity.

Disney’s 1989 animated adaptation of the fairytale, however, deviates from the original to make for a happier ending with the mermaid, named Ariel.



According to an opinion piece in The Guardian, Disney’s creators fashioned Ariel after actress Alyssa Milano’s face, added the blue eyes and chose to turn her hair red to avoid the character being too familiar with the blonde mermaid in the 1984 film “Splash.”

Based on the Danish origins of the original fairytale, some naysayers have taken to Twitter in protest of Halle’s casting, tagging it racist and cultural appropriation.



“The little mermaid was written as white, was white in the film, is based in Denmark and based on a European fairytale, but is cast as black,” one person tweeted. “How is this not racist and cultural appropriation? If this were the other way round, those celebrating would be boycotting.”

Another user insisted that Ariel must have “white skin and red hair” while also sharing the photo of a white redhead in a mermaid costume and tagging it “my perfect Ariel princess.”


Complex reported that one troll went as far as posting a video of herself trashing a copy of the Disney original film. Twitter eventually suspended her after other users called her out.

A lot of people have now come out in defense of Halle getting to play Ariel in the upcoming live remake.



One Twitter user explained:

“Cultural appropriation is when a powerful culture adopts aspects of a culture it has colonized or exploited. Not when the race of a cartoon character is changed for the live-action remake. Honestly how much of Ariel's character arc concerns her skin color anyway?”


“Mermaids are not real. Mermaids don’t have a race,” another individual countered. “The image of a human is for appeal, not of accuracy. Again mermaids don’t have a race. They are creatures. You’re welcome.”

Halle has not responded to the adverse reactions, but we know that the teenager is excited to play Ariel in the iconic film. “Dream come true,” she tweeted on Wednesday, alongside the picture of a dark-skinned Ariel.



Halle and her older sister Chloe went viral for their musical talents in 2013, drawing the attention of pop icon Beyoncé. By 2015, the girls – performing as the duo Chloe x Halle – were signed to the singer’s label Parkwood Entertainment. Halle and Chloe also display their acting talents on the ABC series “Grown-ish.”



Halle’s situation echoes that of a handful of other stars whose casting choices sparked online outrage. Most recently, Will Smith found himself in that boat after his casting as Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams, in an upcoming biopic, did not go down well with everyone.


Many pointed out that dark-skinned actors like Idris Elba and Mahershala Ali would have been better than Smith who, although African American, is several shades lighter than the father of the tennis legends.

As for Halle, despite the online outrage, it appears the teen singer/actress will be knocking her “Little Mermaid” character out of the park if the words of the film director Rob Marshall are anything to go by.

“After an extensive search, it was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance,” Rob said. “Plus a glorious singing voice - all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role.”

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