TikTok stresses importance of representation as young fans react to ‘The Little Mermaid’ trailer


On September 10, 2022, Walt Disney Studios released the first official teaser for the new live-action movie. The little Mermaidwhich is due to hit all theaters in May 2023. Audiences got their first look at the highly anticipated blockbuster based on the nostalgic fairy tale that has encouraged many of us to stay too long in the bath, savoring the moments when we could imagine that we also had mermaids and tritons.

The woman who landed the role of our beloved Ariel, Halle Bailey, was highly praised by her fellow cast members and the production team for her sheer talent. Bailey is best known for being half sister act Chloe x Halle—the Grammy-nominated R&B duo championed by Beyonce since they took over its title “Best Thing I Never Had” on YouTube. The American singer-actress has since also starred in the television series Cultivated alongside his sister.

Director Rob Marshall, after announcing Bailey as their princess, said: “After extensive research, it was abundantly clear that Halle possesses this rare combination of mind, heart, youth, innocence and substance. – plus a glorious voice – all the intrinsic qualities necessary to play this emblematic role”, as reported The uninitiated.

Melissa McCarthy, who plays the villainous Ursula in the film, recently recalled the moment she first heard Bailey’s rendition of the iconic song “Part of Your World.” “We were on set and they started playing Halle’s version of the song. It’s so beautiful and it comes from such a place, she sings with her heart and when I heard it, there were seven of us crying. She’s a remarkable young woman,” McCarthy told Andy Cohen on the late night talk show. Watch what’s happening live.

Unfortunately, there are some netizens whose ignorance and smugness have diverted media attention from this film’s important step towards diversity and inclusivity within the Disney repertoire.

After the trailer was released, comments and videos started popping up on social media platforms criticizing a number of trivial things. Most often – which can only be described as acute racism – is the criticism of Bailey’s hair in the film. The teaser, which currently spans 1.5 million dislikeswas also accused of failing to create a “realistic” underwater world – presumably users find any excuse to criticize this film.

According The Independent, trolls started the #NotMyAriel trend on Twitter, accusing Disney of poor casting choices and insisting that a live-action remake should stay true to the original animation which showed the mythical Ariel as a pale-haired white woman. Westernized stiff redheads. Of course, these trolls had no problem with the concept of a singing crab or a voice-stealing octopus?

In an interview with Variety, Bailey expressed how this film “crosses barriers”. She said: “I want the little girl in me and the little girls like me watching to know that they are special and should be a princess in every way.”

This sentiment is definitely true for so many children around the world. The little Mermaid remake – while suffering some backlash – is bringing joy to several young children of color who can now experience the wonders of Disney through a character that represents them. Many families have taken to TikTok recently to capture their children’s first reactions to the film’s trailer – and let’s just say, their wholesome nature is sure to put a smile on your face.

Representation matters, period.

Shannon Lanier, TikTok user shared a video on September 13 of their three young children watching The little Mermaid trailer. In the clip, the kids are heard asking, “Why can’t we see his face?” to which Lanier replies, “They’re about to show it, keep watching.” As the trailer introduces Bailey, the three kids exclaim, “She’s black!” “Oh my god, finally!”

@mrshannonlanier

#LittleLaniers #reaction to #thelittlemermaid #blackmermaid @hallebailey @disney THANKS 4 this. it means the #world to so many people! #blackexcellence #fyp #fypシ #trend #viral #HalleBailey #littlemermaid #Disney

♬ original sound – MrShannonLanier

Another wholesome moment uploaded by @preciousavery to the video-sharing platform depicts a young girl in awe at how much she looks like Bailey. The clip, titled “When Your Favorite Disney Princess Looks Like You,” first shows the girl watching the trailer and, as soon as she realizes who’s playing Ariel, smiles and says, “I think she’s brunette! Brown Ariel is cute!

@preciousavery

I love this for my 3 year old 🤎 #littlemermaid #toddlersoftiktok #hallebailey #girlpower

♬ original sound – Precious & Emery

The wholesome video in question has already garnered 5.3 million views, even receiving a comment from Bailey herself. The Cultivated star, alongside a collection of other famous TikTok influencers including Patrick Starrr and Mikayla Nogueira, shared her love, writing, “oh my god my heart.”

It’s also worth noting that the movie holds huge significance for older women of color, who never got to see a Disney Princess who looked like them as children. Below is a TikTok uploaded by user Korris’ World, who filmed their mother and grandmother’s reactions to The little Mermaid teasing:

@korrisworld

Mannnn I almost cried😭 #thelittlemermaid #halleberry #thelittlemermaidhallebailey #blackmermaid #blackprincess #fyp

♬ I love you so much – The King Khan & BBQ Show

Korris’ grandmother, when she realized the new Disney princess was black, noted, “Oh my God, they’re mad about this,” referring to the criticism the film faced. The couple go on to comment, “If she was white…and red-haired…”

We can all imagine the big difference in online attention the next film would have received had Ariel been played by a white woman.

Bailey herself took to Instagram in order to to share his appreciation for the heartwarming response from the public. “People have been sending me these reactions all weekend and I’m so in awe of how these little babies’ reactions make me feel so emotional, it means the world to me,” she wrote. “Thank you all for your unwavering support.”

It cannot be denied that The little MermaidThe 2023 release will continue to face a similar backlash based on racism and ignorance. Nevertheless, the significance of this film for people of color is insurmountable and should not be dismissed or ignored.

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