“She is a black girl! They made Ariel into a black girl! On September 15, Brut brought together in a video the reactions of little American girls, filmed by their parents watching promotional extracts from the new Disney film around the character of the Little Mermaid. Amazed, the children discovered that their heroine was black, like them.
First, the video turns on social networks and draws a few tears of emotion to the million spectators who clicked on “Play”. Then, the story changes direction: Ariel as a black woman, played by Halle Bailey (The Color Purple, Let it shine) is not unanimous. The phenomenon has a name, blackwashingwhich designates the fact of choosing a black actor to play a character non described as such in the original story.
On Twitter, the hashtag #NotMyAriel is multiplying in protest, with many racist comments. It’s certainly not new: it appeared in the summer of 2019, since the casting for the film was announced, presenting Halle Bailey as the future mermaid. At the time, the young woman said she “didn’t pay attention to the negativity” of the controversy and was “very excited about the project”.
Three years later, when the teaser official has been on the air since September 10 and has already racked up nearly 23 million views, nauseating remarks abound. Some see the casting choice as a betrayal of Andersen’s work, whose text would describe Ariel as having “diaphanous” skin, according to one Internet user, who believes that “replacing Ariel’s identity with another is a pure expression of racial hatred”.
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While mocking images of Michael Jackson dressed as the little mermaid circulate, Internet users do not hesitate to tamper with screenshots to show a fictitious number of “Dislikes” under the official teaser video (which would thus be more numerous than the “likes” received), even though YouTube has blocked this feature since November 2021. Finally, some believe that Disney would be doing “charity” to black people by deciding to “repaint” its characters…
As often, Twitter is the scene of a war of “for” and “against”, letting hatred flow freely there. Some claim not to be “racist”, feeling justified in not want to see that their blue-eyed redhead icon changes appearance; the others rise up against these attacks by recalling all the times when the cinema has denied the origin of a character to represent him in white, thus doing “whitewashing”.
This advancement by Disney in the representation of minorities is notable, because in the lineup of heroines of the major, there has so far been only one black princess – Tiana, of the Princess and the Frog –, and overall very few characters from diversity. And this is unfortunately not the first time that such an approach has triggered torrents of hatred.
Already in 2017, the search for an actress “from an ethnic minority” to play Ciri in The Witcher caused a scandal (the actress finally chosen is fair-skinned blonde). When The Bridgerton Chronicle (another Netflix series) saw the light of day, netizens raged at seeing dark-skinned lords and ladies in London’s good society in 1813. Even though many historians believe that Queen Charlotte , the grandmother of Queen Victoria, was of Afro-descendant…
When leaving the Rings of Power on Amazon Prime in early September, many fans felt that Tolkien had been “betrayed” by a cast that included people “of color.” As violent as they are, these comments are a sad classic… to which some Internet users have decided to respond with an artistic snub, drawing the two Ariels hand in hand. the main.
All this #notmyariel noise is unbelievably upsetting.
Little Black girls around the world deserve to see themselves in fairytales, too. pic.twitter.com/RyoE7G3eIH
— 𝕁 𝕃𝕒𝕕𝕣𝕒𝕖 𓂀 (@j_ladrae) September 22, 2022