- Actress Halle Bailey was recently cast as Ariel in an upcoming remake of “The Little Mermaid,” but many feel that the role should have gone to a white actress.
- But earlier this week, Disney-owned Freeform channel fought back against people who think that Bailey was a poor choice for the role, citing the original story (written by Hans Christian Andersen, who was Danish) as reason for a Caucasian Ariel.
- “Ariel… is a mermaid,” Freeform said on social media, adding, “Danish mermaids can be black because Danish people can be black.”
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Freeform, a cable channel owned by Disney, fought back against critics trying to prove that Ariel can’t be black with a statement on Saturday.
“Yes, the original author of ‘The Little Mermaid’ was Danish. Ariel… is a mermaid,” Freeform wrote in an impassioned post on Twitter and Instagram regarding the argument that the fable’s original author Hans Christian Andersen’s Danish ethnicity meant that Ariel couldn’t be black.
“Danish mermaids can be black because Danish people can be black,” Freeform said in response to people who were using the perceived ethnicity of the fictional character as reason against casting black actress Halle Bailey in the remake.
“But spoiler alert… the character of Ariel is a work of fiction,” the channel concluded.
An open letter to the Poor, Unfortunate Souls:#TheLittleMermaid #Ariel #MyAriel pic.twitter.com/XYJSXKt2BU
— Freeform (@FreeformTV) July 6, 2019
After news of Bailey's casting broke earlier this month, people were divided, with the hashtag #NotMyAriel quickly gaining traction.
Some felt that the casting of a black actress in a live-action remake of a classic Disney film was long overdue, and arguments that Andersen's ethnicity necessitates a white Ariel were seriously flawed.
Dear #NotMyAriel people. You’re right, she’s not your Ariel. Because it’s someone else’s turn to see themselves in The Little Mermaid. You’ve had yours.
— SixStarSerpentine 🎃 (@Carl53163296) July 5, 2019
As a danish person, I have some bad news for all the people who’s angry, that a black woman is playing Ariel. Danish people don’t have fins either, nor do we live underwater - we can, and do, however have different ethnicities🤷🏻♀️ #notmyariel
— Lea Toft (@MuffinFanatic) July 5, 2019
In 2019 we are discussing/complaining about the race of a fictional mythical character. In art there should be no discrimination of interpretation from one portrayal to the next. Aquatic life comes in all shapes and colours. She isn’t real. #NotMyAriel #shewasnotyourstobeginwith pic.twitter.com/PBV62YqLbf
— Michael Eklund (@MichaelEklund) July 5, 2019
Others pointed out Ariel is, of course, a fictional character - and a fictional creature at that.
A fact for the #NotMyAriel crowd: You have never seen a white mermaid in real life.
— Wolfman Jack (@sillyGoofAss) July 9, 2019
Anyone tweeting “#NotMyAriel” should be ashamed of themselves. Ariel is a mythical fish from an underwater kingdom. Last time I checked there was nothing stopping her from being black. It’s 2019 folks. I think you’ll be okay if the /2nd version/ of your princess is a poc. 🙄 pic.twitter.com/YL1R21UFxg
— Alaysia Selvin (@AlaysiaDS) July 5, 2019
just say you’re racist and go. it’s 2019. ariel is a fictional FISH. mermaids don’t fucking exist, so why the actual fuck does halle’s skin matter?? this #NotMyAriel mess is disgusting. pic.twitter.com/LDNMD3PzfG
— angelique (@R0MANTICINPARIS) July 5, 2019
On the other hand, plenty of racist people attempted to use bogus science to argue that Ariel couldn't be black. Others attempted to use folklore as "proof" that the fictional character had to be white, something that was quickly debunked.
Read more: Racists are trying and failing to prove that mermaids can't be black using 'science'
In addition to Freeform, Jodi Benson, the original star of 1989's "The Little Mermaid," also voiced her support for Bailey on Saturday.
"I think the most important thing is to tell the story," Benson said to fans at a pop culture convention.
"We have, as a family, raised our children and for ourselves that we don't see anything that's different on the outside. I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters."
"What you bring to the table in a character as far as their heart and their spirit is what really counts," Benson continued.