The Little Mermaid’s Racist Critics Pollute The Magical Underwater World With Bigotry | Arwa Mahdawi


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More proof that racism rots your brain

Adult males are triggered by a little mermaid. Disney recently released a trailer for a new live-action version of The Little Mermaid starring black actor Halle Bailey, and it sparked an infamously predictable racist reaction. The trailer received 1.5 million dislikes on YouTube and caused many fanatics to connive. If you get a sense of déjà vu about all of this is because the same people already had a meltdown in 2019 when the live-action remake was first announced.

It’s not just the Little Mermaid: people on the right, people who like to tell liberals to harden snowflake, regularly get their panties in a twist on lively entertainment aimed at the four-to-12-year-old crowd. There seems to be a backlash to on-screen diversity every five minutes. Earlier this month, for example, the right worried about a lesbian family of polar bears in Peppa Pig. I don’t know how they have the energy to care about cartoon polar bears; it must be really exhausting.

While there may not be anything new about fanatics raging on animated entertainment, this particular backlash is notable because of how lopsided the response has been. An anonymous computer scientist, for example, went to the trouble of using artificial intelligence to launder Halle Bailey’s appearance in the trailer. A Twitter account (now suspended) gleefully shared the edited trailer, announcing, “Thank you to our AI scientist meme. He fixed The Little Mermaid and turned the awake actor into a red-haired white girl. Shortly after, the Twitter account added, “This is purely for educational purposes, please don’t misinterpret this racistly.” Uh huh.

Conservative political commentator matt walch also spent far more time thinking about the physiology of fictional creatures than health. Walsh told viewers of his eponymous show that “from a scientific point of view, it doesn’t make much sense to have someone with darker skin living on the bottom of the ocean. If anything, not only should the Little Mermaid be pale, it should actually be translucent. If you look at deep sea creatures, they are translucent. They don’t have any kind of pigmentation… [The Little Mermaid] should be totally pale and skeletal where you can see his skull through his face.

Walsh later said what all racists say when people call them: his statement about a black mermaid being unscientific was a joke! Which would have been a much more compelling argument if Walsh hadn’t built his brand on far-right views.

Walsh clearly has an active imagination, so I’d like to suggest a little thought experiment: try imagining a world where you grew up rarely seeing someone like you being a hero on screen. Walsh is an able-bodied white male in his thirties. He grew endlessly from TV shows and movies featuring boys who looked just like him. If you take this representation for granted, it can be difficult to understand how important it is to see yourself included in popular culture. It can be hard to understand how dehumanizing it is to constantly receive the message that people like you can never be heroes. I’m speaking from personal experience here: the other day I found myself unexpectedly shedding a tear because Mo Amer was on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon talking about how his new netflix show, Mo, is “the very first show created by, starring a Palestinian, and showing a Palestinian family on television”. As a Palestinian, I wish there was something like Mo on TV when I was little.

The nine millionth remake of The Little Mermaid might not be something you’re personally interested in, but try to imagine how important it is for a little girl to see someone who looks like her play a heroine in the movie. ‘screen. There’s a very healthy TikTok trend of black girls watching the Little Mermaid trailer and being thrilled that “she is like me ! She is like meIf your reaction to little girls feeling included is to dismiss that as “woke,” then there’s something wrong with you. Not only are you a bad human, you’re also a bad capitalist. The United States is becoming more and more diverse, whether people like Walsh like it or not. In 2019, non-whites and Hispanics made up the majority of people under 16 for the first time. Forgive my cynicism, but I don’t think Disney isn’t trying to be “woke” with The Little Mermaid. It simply responds to good old market forces.

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