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  • Emerging Ally

Little Mermaid

So I need a little help. I am confused.

People seem to be upset.

It is a fictional story.

Loosely based on a fairy tale.

In a fake world.

With mythological creatures.

There are singing fish and talking crabs.

Magic that turns fish into people.

And your problem is that the actor playing the lead role is not white?!?!?!!!

THAT is your issue? I mean they sing underwater!!! THAT physics doesn’t bother you?

Honestly if that is your issue… your problem is … not with the film.

But this is not new. This has been going on for a long time. I have been seeing this in science fiction/fantasy for a long while. Star Trek. Star Wars. Lord of the Rings. The list goes on.

The recent Lord of the Rings series “Rings of Power” has been subject to the same treatment. People have an issue with the diversity of the cast. Elves and Hobbits being played by non-white actors. As if imagination is supposed to be for whites only.

The argument goes in part that this is not true to the source material of Tolkien and Hans Christian Anderson. This is a red herring.

The Disney movie that people keep citing as a “source” is loosely adapted from the fairy tale. In the original Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson the Mermaid dies. The Prince falls in love with someone else. The mermaid is given a chance to live by killing the prince with a magic dagger as he sleeps but she decides not to kill him. Her love unrequited, the spell ends and she turns into foam and dies. So Disney changed the tale… for obvious commercial reasons.

In the Lord of the Rings, the entire essence of the trilogy is multiple - albeit fictional - races coming together to save the world. This theme is done again and again in the books as the heroes only succeed when all work together. Elves, Men and Dwarves work to save Hobbits. Hobbits work with talking trees. Peter Jackson himself - the noted godfather of the Lord of the Rings - even deviated from the Tolkien books in his Hobbit trilogy by inserting an odd love triangle around Legolas and Tauriel.

So what people cite as sources were themselves altered from previous material to match new interpretations.

But as I said all this outrage is not new. When Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman were released in the theaters people expressed outrage at the lack of white men being the heroic center. Even though these movies religiously followed the comic source material they were still the subject of that outrage. And this outrage was solely about the casting not plot… not dialogue… not the actual movie. I know this because the outrage came out BEFORE these movies were released. It was viral and loud enough the extent that the studios insisted the movie reviewing sites upgrade their policing and not allow public reviews prior to the movie release date.

So if you are OK with singing fish and talking trees but have an issue with non-white actors playing elves and mermaids… maybe you need to reflect a little. The issue could be you need to gain a little perspective and understanding. Because the issue is not in the movies or the casting it’s in the mirror.

As always I hope this helps. I look forward to continuing the conversation. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments and if you like subscribe.

All the best,

Dave Terné

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