Black American actress Halle Bailey, 22, will play the title role in Disney's new live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Due of her race, the teaser has caused debate online.
On social networking sites, hashtags like #notmyariel have been utilised. One online user even went so far as to transform Bailey into a white ginger woman. That decision was backed by another Twitter user, who claimed Bailey's persona had been "corrected." The trailer's like count on YouTube has been erased, but 1.5 million people have disliked it, according to Forbes.
Remakes of diverse films have already faced discriminatory criticism. Non-white characters appear in the new Lord of the Rings series on Amazon. Some supporters were indignant. Vanity Fair quoted executive producer Lindsey Weber as saying, "Tolkien is for everyone. When his mythical races escape the isolation of their own civilizations and work together, they produce their best work, according to his stories.
87 percent of TV executives and 92 percent of film executives, according to McKinsey data, are white. These disputes demonstrate how the movie business must compete with directors who are willing to broaden beloved film universes and viewers who do not always embrace change. It is not shocking in a lot of respects. The standard in the film industry has long been a lack of ethnic diversity.
Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American activist, protested on the Oscars stage in 1973. Marlon Brando, who won best actor for his work in The Godfather, had her decline the prize on his behalf. Brando wants to draw attention to the inaccurate portrayals of Native Americans in the media. Littlefeather was not only jeered off stage and rejected by the industry, but the Academy didn't even offer an apology until August of this year.
It is a sign that things have not advanced as much as we would want that we are still talking about racism in the same industry nearly 50 years after it first came up. Black creators are driving change everywhere they can. Research from Netflix that was highlighted in the same McKinsey investigation revealed that "[w]hen a Black creator was behind a Netflix series... When a non-Black creator created a series, only 15.4 percent of the regular cast members were Black.
It is amazing to see when everything comes together and we do get different characters on TV. The Disney Plus series Ms. Marvel, which stars Kamala Khan, an adolescent superhero, is a great example. The show centres on a group of friends negotiating their common experiences as Pakistani Americans and Muslims, played by Iman Vellani.
Because of what's at stake—a generation of young children who will get to see themselves—continued improvement is crucial. Bailey, who is in the epicentre of all the resistance, is aware of this.
In an interview with People magazine, she said, "I'm just like, wow, I'm so grateful for what it will do for all the other little Black and brown boys and girls who will see themselves in me. The fact that now it's getting to be played by me, a person who looks like me, [a] woman of colour, I'm just like, wow."
"Because I know my entire viewpoint would have changed if I had seen myself when I was younger," the speaker explains.
Growing up, I too would have experienced a paradigm shift from seeing a Black lead in a major motion picture like The Little Mermaid. In contrast to the critics, Black parents from all over the world have documented their daughters' exuberant reactions to the trailer.
It has been long overdue for a Black Ariel, and I hope she is a harbinger of things to come as the entertainment industry continues to value representation. After all, there is little hope that we can achieve equality in the actual world if we can't construct imaginary universes where it is the norm.