Last week, Disney made an announcement that singer Halle Bailey is cast as Ariel in The Little Mermaid remake. Not long after that, racially charged backlash against the news swept the very negative corners of the internet.
The “poor souls” of the internet lashed out against the idea of a black woman taking the role of Ariel. Some of the most devoted detractors went so far as to use #NotMyAriel demanding Disney for a recasting. Thankfully, we all know how online petitions against major productions work, they don’t. (Game of Thrones anyone?)
Now, Disney’s cable network Freeform took to social media to address the issue. In an “An open letter to the Poor, Unfortunate Souls”, Disney had scathing words to defend their casting choice.
“Yes. The original author of The Little Mermaid was Danish. Ariel…is a mermaid. She lives in an underwater kingdom in international waters and can legit swim wherever she wants (even though that often upsets King Triton, absolute zaddy),” Freeform wrote. “But for the sake of argument, let’s say that Ariel, too, is Danish.”
“Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black,” the letter continued. “Ariel can sneak up to the surface at any time with her pals Scuttle and the *ahem* Jamaican crab Sebastian (sorry, Flounder!) and keep that bronze base tight. Black Danish people, and this mer-folk, can also *genetically* (!!!) have red hair.”
Freeform also had glowing words for Bailey writing:
“But spoiler alert – bring it back to the top – the character of Ariel is a work of fiction. So after all this is said and done, and you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is because she ‘doesn’t look like the cartoon one,’ oh boy, do I have some news for you…about you.”