Backlash over the black singer being chosen to portray Ariel in the live action version of the hit 1989 Disney animated film culminated last week in #NotMyAriel on Twitter.
One person tweeted that the casting was not in keeping with the original version of a white, redheaded mermaid.
It’s not a movie about mermaids … it’s about the 1989 Disney movie based on the story “The Little Mermaid” Written by Hans Christian Andersen where he describes white skin as blue eyes,” the tweet read. “Ariel is from DENMARK … Nordic … #NotMyAriel #Itisnotinclusive.”
On Sunday, Freeform, a Disney-owned TV network, took to Instagram for a take down of those complaining pointing that it’s an animated character and even if Ariel is Danish “Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black.”
“So after all this is said and done, and you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is because she ‘doesn’t look like the cartoon one’, oh boy, do I have some news for you . . . about you,” the statement read.
“I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters. What you bring to the table in a character as far as their heart, and their spirit, is what really counts,” Benson reportedly said. “And the outside package — cause let’s face it, I’m really, really old — and so when I’m singing ‘Part of Your World,’ if you were to judge me on the way that I look on the outside, it might change the way that you interpret the song. But if you close your eyes, you can still hear the spirit of Ariel.”
Benson, who has also voiced the character in other projects including two straight-to-video sequels, was applauded by the audience for some of her remarks.
“We need to be storytellers,” she said. “And no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter our race, our nation, the color of our skin, our dialect, whether I’m tall or thin, whether I’m overweight or underweight, or my hair is whatever color, we really need to tell the story.”
Shooting of the new film is expected to start sometime in 2020.