Disney’s next big live-action (plus CGI) remake of one of their animated classics is The Little Mermaid, and it’s making one big change: Ariel, its aquatic hero, is played by a Black performer. That’s good news for Black kids, who will see themselves represented onscreen in a beloved story. It’s bad news for another group, though: racists. Just as bigots have gotten in a big stink over the diverse cast of The Rings of Power and a single Black performer in Obi-Wan Kenobi, they’re up in arms over a story about a fictional character who’s half-human, half-fish. And one of its producer is joining in the pushback to this particular pushback.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, no stranger to revolutionary diverse casting, spoke to Variety about the latest racist hoopla, and he wasn’t having it. He talked up how great Halle Bailey, who was cast as Ariel all the way back in 2019, was going to be as the creature in love with a human.
“She is going to blow them away,” Miranda promised. “If that’s the thing that makes you mad, then stay mad. But examine your choices.”
After years of non-white actors having to absorb abuse from racist trolls, there’s been a marked shift in how studios and fellow performers react. In the past, the plan was to say nothing except some quiet words of support. Now the likes of Disney and Amazon have returned fire. But not all the to-dos concerning The Little Mermaid have been bleak-o-rama: People are still making jokes about how Halle Bailey’s name sounds an awful lot like that of a certain Oscar-winning actress.
The Little Mermaid hits theaters on May 26, 2023.