Does it Take a Fish to Bring Diversity to a Big Screen?

By: Hannah Chang

The upcoming Little Mermaid movie, set to be released on May 26, 2023, has definitely shaken the sea with its new teaser. The star Halle Bailey is a five-time grammy award nominee actress, and singer, and will be the first black Little Mermaid to swim into the world of Disney.  

After the release of the new trailer, both Disney and the actress have been receiving abounding amounts of criticism mainly due to the skin color of the new Little Mermaid. Since the very first movie released in 1989, Ariel (the little mermaid) has always been white. But now that she is going to be portrayed as black, many are shocked and even unsettled.

Because actress Halle Bailey has black skin and not white, many view this as ruining the iconic character of Ariel because it is not the exact same as how it always was. Due to this fixed mindset of the public, they are unable to see Halle Bailey and all her talent as well as the positive impact this movie will have on children and adults. 

“I think Disney’s decision to cast Halle Bailey as Ariel is great! Her singing voice is incredible and a Grammy-nominated one at that. In addition to her talent, the ability for young black and brown girls to feel represented through her is priceless. She earned this role with her talents, but she brings so much more meaning to the movie,” said Ryan Pfoutz, a mother of two young children. 

Others had similar reactions to this major change. 

“Halle Bailey is a wonderful actress, singer, and talent. I mean she’s a triple threat. Her getting casted for the role is just her being the best fit for the role…if it was for another case/person, Disney would’ve casted them as such,” stated Mt. Hebron math teacher Douraine Donaldson.  

For years, Disney has had predominantly white lead roles, specifically their princesses. Most notably, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Belle, and Elsa have always been common favorites, but the lack of diversity has made it hard for people of color to feel included. Although there are Disney princesses/characters of color such as Jasmine, Moana, Tiana, and Mulan, that is not enough for people of all ethnicities and races to be represented. 

 Children’s movies do more than they seem. Yes, they do keep kids distracted from bothering their parents and causing trouble, but they also teach them important life lessons and developmental skills. 

“Movies present various stories and visuals that increase children’s knowledge of different objects and ideas. Those lead to the increase of their imagination and creativity, ” said a teacher from Kinderfield School.  

In addition to teaching life lessons and developmental skills, children’s movies play a big role in children’s self-esteem. 

“Many times, the shows and movies we enjoyed as children have a profound impact on how we see ourselves in the world,” said Derreasha Jones, an equity, diversity, and inclusion specialist. 

The main hope for this upcoming movie is to bring representation to the main screen and make the world of Disney more magical for those who haven’t seen their colored skin on a princess. As the world progressed, people became more inclusive one way or another. From desegregation to uniting together to protest against social injustice for fellow citizens, people feel the importance of equality in all kinds of races and equalities. And even though children’s movies may not seem as impactful, sometimes, all it takes is a fish to boost the self-esteem of young children and let them know that they matter in the world today.

Categories: Opinions