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Halle Bailey Is a Star! We’re Thrilled to See 'The Little Mermaid', BUT...

by Venus Sanders

Set to release in March 2023, The Little Mermaid is no doubt going to do big numbers, I mean why wouldn’t it? Halle Bailey is a star. Halle Lynn Bailey (born March 27, 2000) is an American singer and actress. She made her debut on the scene with older sister Chloe Bailey. Together, they form the singing group, Chloe x Halle. The duo has gone on to earn five Grammy Award nominations since 2018 and her role as Skyler Forster in the television sitcom Grown-ish has earned her a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series at the 2020 NAACP Image Awards.

Halle recently sat down with Vogue to give her reaction to The Little Mermaid trailer released by Disney three weeks ago, “I was not expecting that reaction! I was so surprised at how viral it all went.” Prior, the singer transformed into a real-life Disney princess at Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Special. Halle performed the Lion King classic song, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” thrilling audiences everywhere with her gorgeous voice and stunning looks.

She was introduced by Whoopi Goldberg and belted out the classic notes in front of a live orchestra. There were fireworks and of course, Disney’s Magic Kingdom, proving to the world that she deserves to play a princess. But, while she is fit to play a princess, I am not too happy that it is Ariel.

Hear me out!

When we take a closer look at phase 4 for Disney and Marvel Studios there is a trend—marketing by shock value with a sprinkle of so-called anti-racism. It seems that the giant corporation is integrating both women and women of color into their productions as a way to spike viewership and keep negative reviews from hitting the press. We, the collective, did not ask for this: Loki—featuring a female version of him, She-Hulk and the list goes on. Now we have an African American Ariel. Seems a bit fishy to me. If the intention is to have more African American women and superheroes on the screen, why are they not creating these characters versus playing on fans' nostalgia to sell tickets? Tiana anyone?

The Princess and the Frog is a 2009 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The main character, Tiana who is voiced by the talented, Anika Noni Rose would have been perfect for a live-action animation featuring Halle Bailey, no? Well, that’s if these corporate machines didn’t have a hidden agenda. And before anyone says, “Well, maybe it wasn’t successful commercially.” Nope, it was. It was a success at the box office, ranking first place on its opening weekend in North America and grossing around $271 million worldwide, becoming Disney’s most successful traditionally animated film since Lilo & Stitch in 2002.

So, are they really for the culture in 2022 or just looking to capitalize on it?

The saddest part is Halle does not deserve the backlash she is receiving for a decision made by these large corporations to drum up controversy to sell tickets and dodge bad press. This young woman deserves all the success, but putting a Black woman front and center of emotional and verbal abuse by long-time fans seems unfair and unjust to me. Why is no one talking about that? Yet, she should smile, wave, and be grateful for the opportunity to play such a revered character.

No bad press…what do I mean by that? Well in case you haven’t noticed any bad reviews or bad press about the horrible movies and shows Marvel x Disney puts out are quickly removed from the internet. They are fighting back the claims with rebuttals such as you’re racist if you don’t like a superhero or live-action movie with an African American lead. As well as calling people sexist for not wanting to see female superheroes, which is the furthest thing from the truth. Giving us female counterparts to popular male superheroes is just lazy and careless:

  • Loki – Lady Loki played by Sophia Di Martino

  • Black Hawk – Lady Blackhawk played by Zinda Blake

  • Hulk – She-Hulk played by Tatiana Maslany

  • Captain America – Played by Peggy Carter

  • The Black Captain Marvel – Played by Monica Rambeau in Wandavision and in the film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, she is portrayed by Lashana Lynch

Now…an African American Ariel…this is not done to be inclusive in my opinion. I love that African American men and women are getting their chance to serve in prominent roles, but why is it being done so hastily and neglectfully? Also, I love seeing women play superheroes, this is amazing! But why aren’t we creating characters for them versus turning one into the other? Captain America, Wonder Woman, Rogue, Jean from X-Men, Scarlet Witch, Invisible Woman, and the list can go on, we have no problem accepting them. They aren’t being forced onto us.

In closing, I appreciate Halle Bailey stepping into the role and cannot wait to see the movie. I think she is going to do a phenomenal job. However, I hope that we as a collective can wake up and hit Disney where it hurts, their pockets. We don’t deserve to be dished out such lazy content. We need to make them work hard at being truly inclusive to us as a culture and gender of women.


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