by Destiny Alexis Royston —
The live-action movie of the 1989 animated classic “The Little Mermaid” premiered in London on May 15 with the stars, including Halle Bailey, Jonah-Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, meeting fans on the blue carpet.
The long-awaited film took on another level of anticipation in 2019 when it was announced that African-American singer, songwriter and actor Halle Bailey would portray the rebellious Princess Ariel.
Disney had previously announced that classic animated films would receive a live-action adaptation, and fans looked forward to seeing their childhood cartoons transform into reality.
However, as word spread that the adaptions would include changes in the race of some key characters, social media was set ablaze with comments for and against.
“As long as the actress plays the character naturally and can sing, it doesn’t matter to me what race they are. Especially for this film since race isn’t an important part of the story,” said Michelle, who watched the mother with her two kids during the early access viewing of “The Little Mermaid” in Memphis.
While “The Little Mermaid” nearly sold out at the early access showing at the Paradiso and made $38 million on the opening day worldwide, some continue to hurl negatives, including racist backlash.
Leading up to the premiere of the movie, racist memes and jokes surfaced online and depicted the lead actor as “a ghetto mermaid.”
Although many fans of the original 1989 movie are displeased with the live-action adaptation, it seems just as many have looked forward to watching the movie, purchasing the merchandise, and supporting Bailey.
“It’s very ironic that people have made fun of her (Halle Bailey) because the entire plot of the movie is about a girl who wants to be part of a world she is fascinated by,” said Eren, who viewed the movie with his friends at the Paradiso.
“Halle Bailey auditioned for the role, sang and acted perfectly. She earned the role.”
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Director Rob Marshall said, “She (Bailey) was the first person we saw for this role, and she set the bar so high….
“When she sang, you got a deep understanding of what it is that Ariel wants, you believe that the stakes are high, and you just root for her to succeed.”
At the London premiere, Bailey posed for photos with young fans who saw themselves in her.
Her ethereal voice gave fans a hint at what was in store in the movie when she sang, “Part of Your World” as the magical visuals appeared behind her on stage.
The movie takes viewers on a colorful, fun, and beautiful tour of life in the sea.
I watched the movie on the early access night with my boyfriend, Ralphael Burks, and we both enjoyed every moment.
Burks, who isn’t usually a fan of live-action adaptations, said the film was entertaining and noted that the additional songs added to the film were catchy.
The audience erupted into cheers and clapping during the opening scene and the credits.
For me, the most memorable scene was at the end, when all the mermaids in the sea said farewell to Ariel and her newfound love, Prince Eric.
The mermaids, unlike in the original movie, represented different races and ages. Everyone deserves to see themselves in their favorite character, regardless of the tripe from racist, Internet trolls.
“It was like I was a kid again,” Eren said after the movie. “I had the same feelings watching the live-action as I did when I first saw the original movie growing up.
“And this time, everyone is part of Ariel’s world.”
(Destiny Alexis Royston is a former City of Memphis Youth Services MPLOY intern for The New Tri-State Defender and now is a periodic contributor.)