Black Little Mermaid — New Trailer, A Hopeful Skeptic’s Take

G.S. Muse
For the New Christian Intellectual
8 min readSep 15, 2022


For the past few days, the Internet has been ablaze with the release of the new “live-action” trailer for The Little Mermaid. Critics have raised concerns that the movie will be a poorly-done remake, substituting quality artwork for a Woke social and political message. On the other hand, there have been those who are excited to see a “live-action” version of the classic Disney movie played by a black actress.

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When it was first announced that Halle Bailey would play Ariel, I wrote an article where I expressed hopeful skepticism. There have been many examples in the past where the demographic of a character is changed in some way or another, and audiences have received it well! When Samuel L. Jackson was cast to play Nick Fury, no one complained (as far as I know) because Jackson is a strong actor and he fit the role well! The same could be said about Halle Berry as Catwoman. Catwoman was a terrible movie, but Halle Barry was an excellent choice as lead actress. Not to mention Will Smith, who has played many excellent roles, including those previously played by white actors.

And of course, who could forget Brandy, when she played Cinderella!

This brings us to an interesting question: If no one had a problem with Brandy playing Cinderella in 1997, why is there concern over Halle Bailey playing The Little Mermaid now?

On that same note, in recent years, the Woke mob has complained about actors playing characters that are of a different nationality from their own, including James Franco playing Fidel Castro.

This brings us full circle to the question of how and when it is appropriate to change the demographic of a fictional character. As Nostalgia Critic pointed out years ago, there have been many cases of actors playing fictional (and historical) characters of different ethnicities from themselves, and even playing the characters of the opposite gender. Not to mention the fact that no one, not one of the actors in The Lord of The Rings, was an actual Hobbit. (Don’t even get me started on Star Trek.)

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Demographic And Artistic License

As I mentioned in my original article, there are fictional characters for whom ethnic background is important to their character, and characters that have historically been depicted in a certain way. Wonder Woman is a woman, Superman is a man. I can’t see Black Panther played by Brie Larson or James Bond played by Viola Davis. While Davis is an incredible actress and would make an incredible secret agent, it would not be appropriate to appropriate a traditionally British male character in this way. (But perhaps in the future, a non-white British portrayal of 007 would be a possibility.) For that matter, I don't think that a male should play The Little Mermaid, because this is a role for a young woman. (But hey! Why not a similar story where the genders are swapped!?)

On the other hand, there are characters for whom different aspects of their demographic are more open to artistic license.

My Opinion on The Matter

My opinion is that I want to give the new version of The Little Mermaid a chance. I think Halle Bailey is a beautiful actress, and more importantly, she has a beautiful voice. Regardless of Woke politics in Hollywood, she is an excellent choice for the role, and I want to support her in this.

It’s important to remember that the iconic red-haired Ariel was not necessarily drawn from the original source material. While rereading the original story, I saw that towards the end, the mermaids (specifically the unnamed main character and her unnamed sisters) were described as being “white,” however this was far from fundamental to the character.

Even though Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author, that does not indicate that the race of merfolk who lived at the bottom of the ocean necessarily looked European in their features. The lack of a physical description (as far as I’ve noticed) seems to give a lot of room for ways that these characters can be depicted, even if the original author passingly described them as being “white.”

I also want to point out that the Disney movie is not the original story, and it took a lot of artistic liberty in how the story was portrayed. The idea of the main character’s rival really being the sea witch in disguise was not a part of the original story. The grandmother, who played a key role in Andersen’s original story, was nowhere to be found in the Disney version.

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And, most importantly, the ending was completely different. In the original ending (spoiler), the mermaid is told that she will die if she cannot get the prince to fall in love with her, but instead of dying, she is transformed into an ethereal air spirit. While many will say that she dies in the end, it is more correct to say that she is transformed.

In comparison to these details, having Ariel played by a black actress is hardly worthy of concern. Far from it, I think that this is a role that lends itself well to a diverse cast of young actresses of all ethnic backgrounds, and I would love to see actresses of every demographic take on this role.

Why I Am Also Skeptical

Regardless of the demographics of the cast, I am skeptical of Disney’s remake of The Little Mermaid. In recent years, there has been a trend where quality storytelling is substituted for preachiness. It reminds me of the bad Christian films with lazy writing that have put a bitter taste in people’s mouths.

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This is not to say that movies should not have a message, quite the opposite, they should have a message. I cannot think of a single good movie without a message, be it Jurassic Park with its warning against hubris, or The Matrix with its questions about philosophy. The problem is that there is a difference between telling a good story with a message and preaching at the audience.

As Ayn Rand pointed out in The Art of Fiction, stories should reflect reality. If an author were to write a story about alien space bugs invading the Earth, it wouldn’t be that interesting, unless the alien invaders represent something that we can relate to in the real world. I’ve heard it said that zombie stories reflect political anxiety, The Wolfman represents puberty, and The Terminator reflects fear of technology.

The Little Mermaid — Official Teaser Trailer

Part of That World

Now that I’ve said my piece about preachiness, politics, and ethnicity, I have some concerns about the movie on its own terms. As someone with a biology background, who also writes speculative fiction, I want to see a live-action version of the merfolk world. I want to be a part of that world for a couple of hours at the movie theater and dream about it later. That is why we go to the movies!

The world of the merfolk should be beautiful and breathtaking. Yet in the trailer, we barely get to see anything in the world beneath the waves. I don’t want a candy-colored seascape, and there should be dark colors in the abyss, but I should be able to see the scene. It appears, from my perspective, that the creators may be hiding flaws in their CGI with a lack of lighting.

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No doubt mermaid eyes would be different from human eyes, but we, the audience, should be able to see the world from Ariel’s perspective. This should include rich deep-sea life, like that described in the original story, along with the rich biodiversity and bioluminescence one would expect in the magical kingdom of the merfolk. Let’s see the Avatar-like world where Ariel and her kin live.

While I want to see this film succeed, and become something great, Disney’s content has been of extremely poor quality as of the past few years. If media producers want fans to continue to support their products, then they are going to have to deliver good content that is worth watching. That means producing intelligent, well-made content with a good story. Stop treating your fans like idiots.

Also, Disney needs to fire people who be creeping on kids. The creators at Disney are reminding me of Herbert from Family Guy.

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I personally think that Halle Bailey is an excellent choice for this role. The Little Mermaid is a story that is very open to artistic license and has a premise that can be adapted in a variety of ways.

That said, many have raised the concern that Disney will compromise on quality, in favor of a social message. This has included black and other minority commentators. (Some have also raised concerns about the change of ethnic casting and called it “Racist” in its motive.) Only time will tell.

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Personally, I would like to see this film made in a good way. I want to see a good story. I want to go to the theater, see something beautiful, and be a part of that world.

What I don’t want is preachy Woke-washing.


If you liked this article, agree or disagree, let me know in the comments! And check out some of my other content, both fiction and nonfiction!

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G.S. Muse
For the New Christian Intellectual

G.S. Muse, also known as GreenSlugg on YouTube or simply as “Greg” is a lab technician, youtuber, author, and blogger. His work can be found at