MAWA (Make Ariel White Again)

My wife, very aware of all things Disney, came home from a business trip and promptly told me about a big internet flap. Apparently, Disney is doing a live action version of The Little Mermaid. They’ve cast a young singer, Halle Bailey, as Ariel. Ms. Bailey is drop-dead gorgeous with a Grammy-nominated voice to match.

She often sings with her older sister. She’s the one with the guitar. Late in the video check out her singing of “Unforgettable.”


She is also Black. You wouldn’t think this would be a big issue – well, maybe you would because you know how stupid and racist people are, in which case you’d be right. She of course has a ton of supporters on the internet but she also has a lot of very vocal detractors who are very upset that Disney didn’t stick closely enough to the appearance of Ariel in the animated movie.

It’s not just the virulent racism, masquerading as usual as something else, in this case some sort of concern for authenticity. Of an animated character. The arguments here go from ridiculous to clinically insane.

One is that Animated Ariel is a redhead, and this fact made little redheaded girls feel represented. Apparently whoever made this case has never heard of a wig. Another is that this is originally a Danish fairy tale so Ariel should feasibly be Danish, though of course the animated feature didn’t exactly have a Danish undersea theme. But these aren’t the worst cases. Oh no. Keep in mind that what I am about to say I am not making up. It doesn’t come from the Onion or something. It is 100% real.

The best argument is that a mermaid could not scientifically be Black because being underwater entails getting too little exposure to direct sunlight to develop sufficient melanin. 

And a lot of people are supporting this argument.

Yes, in this case racism is trying to disguise itself as the science of mermaids. Perhaps I should repeat this phrase: the science of mermaids. The science of people who are biologically half fish.

I can’t wait to read about the science of singing crabs. Let’s examine this scene for scientific accuracy (and note the Danish cultural references):

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