I Think I Know Why (Almost) Everyone Is Angry About Ariel

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Ami-Scythe's Avatar
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This a theory-not theory. I'm very weary of hearing about this "issue," but I gave it a bit of thought and it may not be just a case of textbook racism going on here.
First off, I remember seeing the news and waving it off because I'm not interested in Disney remakes except Aladdin and maybe Mulan and I'm not swayed by ethnic pandering anymore. There was a time where you could flash a black actor or a black character in my face and I would dive in head first, but I see now that it's just a marketing trick. A Facebook friend did not understand me when I posted that Halle Bailey was hired for her skin and not her acting talent. The friend said that my phrase was contradictory. What I meant is that it's not like Halle came in and did her best Ariel impression and they said there was no one else they could hire. The thought process was, "Let's make Ariel black." So they lined up some of their best black women and picked out the lightest one. She can probably act just fine but she's not there to make the movie, she's there to market it and until now that was my only problem with the casting.
Now, it's all over my Facebook feed and there are people saying, "They just want the Ariel they grew up with," which made me come up with this theory, that perhaps it's not racism (or just racism.)
I saw a post stating that there are other characters that were originally written to be white that were portrayed by black actors, the examples being Dead Shot, Nick Fury, Heimdall and Iron Patriot and "no one" complained. (I guess Johnny Storm is chopped liver), but anyway, when I saw the comment about wanting the original Ariel, this list of characters appeared in my head and I noticed something: Every character in that list of men were altered to match the ethnicity. (except maybe Heimdall, I'm not really sure) Changing a white character specifically so they can be portrayed by black men and women is a consistent practice in the film industry, even in cartoons.
In Nickelodeon's "new" show, Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the iconic character who is the loyal human companion of the turtles, April O' Neil, was needlessly changed into a black girl and along with her skin changed her entire personality. Sure, she can still do things like build gadgets and be the love interest of Donatello but overall, April had completely transformed.
A similar thing happens when black voice actors are behind creatures who were written with different personalities than how they are portrayed in film. (Again, just because they're being played by a black male or female.)
There are also dramatic changes in wardrobe, such as the infamous change to Teen Titans' Starfire in the television adaption. A sweet and innocent adolescent had been turned into a trashy and cheap hooker after the decision had been made to have her be represented by a black woman.
Even original works can be controversially stereotypical such as Disney's Princess And The Frog. Tiana doesn't have magic, she has voodoo, friends who are also bosses, a snappy attitude instead of naivety, bugs and crocodiles instead of birds and bunnies, a swamp not a wedding venue, and lastly a restaurant on the poverty side of New Orleans instead of a castle.
So overall, what I'm trying to say is that the fear of Ariel's casting in The Little Mermaid remake may not just be that she's black but that her entire personality is likely to change due to the actor they're using. Perhaps that's why no one is willing to accept a "black" Ariel because if Hollywood keeps being Hollywood, Ariel will not be Ariel. Thoughts?
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Ami-Scythe



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



"They just want the Ariel they grew up with,"
I identify with that sentiment in relation to many other characters.

You make a very interesting point about characters being tweaked because they've changed race.



It's definitely a marketing ploy and I can understand why some people are upset about it. On the other hand, I do think there should be more diversity and representation in films. I just wish that diversity and representation came in the form of original stories or at the very least not in the form of a story that the studio already adapted 30 years ago.

Either way I won't be watching it. I'm not a fan of these "live action" (not really because they're so CGI heavy) remakes.



The new so-called diversity in Hollywood isn't diverse at all, they've just increased the number of black actors, but we don't see more asians, hispanics, native americans, south pacific islanders in roles. It's like Hollywood thinks in only black and white terms. It's all so phony, I'm glad to see that the OP mentioned it's just a 'marketing trick', because that's all it is.



I do think there should be more diversity and representation in films. I just wish that diversity and representation came in the form of original stories
I pretty much completely agree with this. I think it should kinda irk both "sides" too because it's kind of a lame consolation prize, diversity-wise, compared to creating something new.

All that said, the "backlash" to this stuff is usually overblown. I saw one article that just quoted a tweet from someone with a few hundred followers as evidence of it. It should be obvious by now it isn't hard to find a silly person on Twitter reacting ridiculously to literally anything, if you go looking for it.
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Ami-Scythe's Avatar
A bucket of anxiety
It should be obvious by now it isn't hard to find a silly person on Twitter reacting ridiculously to literally anything, if you go looking for it.
That's true but it was all over my Facebook feed



Oh, I believe it.

I think what happens is one or two people say something, then everyone comments on the issue, even though most of them wouldn't have cared enough to say something until it became A Thing. Then they feel kind of obligated, or they've been riled up by the editorials, or whatever. But it seems to start based on very little sometimes.



I think the controversy is fun to make jokes about, but at the end of the day race is inconsequential to Ariel's character.

What I am pissed about is that they're remaking a perfectly great film just so they can get more money, at this rate nearly ALL of the classic Disney films will have crap remakes.
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I'm not really on Twitter, but the only thing I saw about it on Facebook was from a white friend who was talking about how he hopes it will help his mixed race daughter feel better about her dark skin.



Well as far as movies go with black characters in, I feel that there have been several movies with black characters in over the last four decades, ever since the blaxploitation movement, but several also in the 90s up till now. Do modern audiences tend not to watch a lot of movies going back to the 90s, so this is all news to them now?

Plus I feel that audiences are possibly being double-standardish on this issue cause I remember a few months ago, there was a stink raised at how in the original Dumbo movie, they didn't like that they made the Crows, black characters, but now audiences are embracing a Black Ariel. Why is one okay, and the other not?

There are also dramatic changes in wardrobe, such as the infamous change to Teen Titans' Starfire in the television adaption. A sweet and innocent adolescent had been turned into a trashy and cheap hooker after the decision had been made to have her be represented by a black woman.
Oh I didn't think that the character dressing like a hooker had anything to do with her being changed to black. Did the makers of the show felt that if they were going to change her to black, that that is the reason why she is dressed like a hooker, and not for any other reason?



There was a stink raised at how in the original Dumbo movie, they didn't like that they made the Crows, black characters, but now audiences are embracing a Black Ariel. Why is one okay, and the other not?
They were not black characters, they were black caricatures and racist ones at that. Please learn the difference.



Oh okay, but the mouse was a Italian Brooklyn character, and no one seemed bothered by that in comparison.



Weird is relative.

There are also dramatic changes in wardrobe, such as the infamous change to Teen Titans' Starfire in the television adaption. A sweet and innocent adolescent had been turned into a trashy and cheap hooker after the decision had been made to have her be represented by a black woman.
Oh I didn't think that the character dressing like a hooker had anything to do with her being changed to black. Did the makers of the show felt that if they were going to change her to black, that that is the reason why she is dressed like a hooker, and not for any other reason?
I just didn't like how the characters were no longer all the same age. I mean yeah, no guy in his 20s is going to want to hang around a 14-year-old and act like a father figure to her forever.

They just really screwed up the dynamics by changing the ages and personalities of the characters.



Oh okay, I don't know much about teen titans, but I don't get why a guy in his 20s, would not want to be a father figure. Is that too young for a guy to be one? I just don't understand what you meant.

Also, since we are on the topic, since there there are people complaining about more diversity in Hollywood, do you think any audiences will have a problem with Mulan being in English? Would some complain about how other languages are not represented enough in movies, and say Mulan should have been in Mandarin?



I pretty much completely agree with this. I think it should kinda irk both "sides" too because it's kind of a lame consolation prize, diversity-wise, compared to creating something new.

All that said, the "backlash" to this stuff is usually overblown. I saw one article that just quoted a tweet from someone with a few hundred followers as evidence of it. It should be obvious by now it isn't hard to find a silly person on Twitter reacting ridiculously to literally anything, if you go looking for it.
This is a non story to me. That #NotMyAriel was trending on twitter because of everyone defending her. I went through 100 tweets with that hashtag and all of them were defending her. It's becoming more of a marketing ploy, a dumb one, but apparently it works.

Now the director of the new Terminator is saying the new Terminator lead chick is for all the misogynist. How stupid is that from a franchise that already had a badass chick in it? It's eyerolling.

I'm sure girl that became Ariel is a supremely talented girl. But it is annoying more than anything they are forcing diversity into a role that was clearly white in the original. It would serve their purpose better if they came up with an original black mermaid story. But I don't care what they do with the story really. I probably won't watch it because these Disney live remakes are lazy to me, plus with all the fake outrage with her being black. Guilt tripping me into a movie theater is a good way of not making me go.
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Okay for everyone complaining about how Hollywood has this agenda lately and all? Notice how this marketing plot has been given to movies that are not very deep at all? There are plenty of deep stories in movies where they put the story first, and I think people are concentrating too much on the Disney and superhero type blockbusters, there they go for marketing to the lowest common denominator a lot of the time.



It's not all about race Ami, in this case most of them just want the original aesthetics they know from childhood..
You can compare it to wanting your favorite childhood dish with the exact same ingredients, change one ingredient and it won't take you back to when you were a kid..

For example, one of the reasons I really like X-Men First Class is because they used the original cartoon colors blue and yellow in their suits. If they made it green and orange I would have been pissed..
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Weird is relative.
Oh okay, I don't know much about teen titans, but I don't get why a guy in his 20s, would not want to be a father figure. Is that too young for a guy to be one? I just don't understand what you meant.

Also, since we are on the topic, since there there are people complaining about more diversity in Hollywood, do you think any audiences will have a problem with Mulan being in English? Would some complain about how other languages are not represented enough in movies, and say Mulan should have been in Mandarin?
Isn't there already a live-action version of Mulan in Mandarin? I haven't seen it yet. I hope there are at least occasional scenes with Mandarin in the new one. I think the issue here would be culture appropriation, but then again the Chinese do love American films as proven by their box office...

Here's an article I just read: https://variety.com/2019/film/news/mulan-disney-crystal-liu-yifei-mushu-china-1203264522/

Well, some men are dads in their 20s, yes, but it's like this guy in Titans just gets stuck with looking after this teenage girl after she has to run away from home and has nobody left. Realistically, if you're a young single person you aren't going to feel so protective about some random teen that you want to carry on with your life and also act as a stand-in guardian for them, not unless they're your younger sibling, or relative or whatever. So that brought in drama with the teenager getting attached and crying over him "abandoning her," and stuff, which was lame on the screenwriters part.

But perhaps the producers wanted to make the show seem different than Marvel's Runaways which is about a group of teens with super powers... It was actually quite good, in my opinion, even if some of the storylines were dragged on too long. Engaging group of characters, and going back and forth between focusing on the teens and then their parents made it more interesting for adult viewers.



Can Halle sing? If it's going to be a musical, she should be able to sing. She seems a little old for the part (Ariel was a teenager, I think.), but there have been many men who played characters who were younger. I understand the criticism that casting ethnic actors in previously white roles is a marketing ploy designed to appear progressive. But I don't know if it's always bad. Morgan Freeman made an interesting God (Not saying that God is white, just that he has usually been played by white actors in American films.) Another criticism I get is that long-time fans want the characters to appear as they did in the comics or previous films. There have been successful exceptions to that, too (Lex Luthor in the Superman films is a white example.).

I don't think The Princess and the Frog is a good example because with it, they created something new by incorporating New Orleans culture into the story. I can't say how accurate they were because I'm not from New Orleans.

Maybe Disney should take a cue from that by producing remakes with new settings, somewhat akin to staging Shakespearean plays in different time periods. It would help to alleviate the comparisons between old and new versions and offer something new besides using CGI to replicate the animated versions. Would it be too big a gamble, though?



Citizen, Mija and MovieBuffering already put into words everything I believe on this topic, so I'll leave this here:

Not about Ariel, but you got the figure.
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