The Little Mermaid

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For fans of Ariel, the live-action The Little Mermaid was a dream come true. And, for those of us who also happen to be Black, the movie was immensely special in a way that's hard to put into words. The industry has come a long way, in terms of diversity, and though it still has a long way to go, this Disney movie is a part of the magic of 2023 when it comes to pop culture. When the first teaser trailer dropped and the world got to hear Halle Bailey sing as Ariel for the first time, it triggered a viral cultural moment in which Black parents and family members filmed their young ones reacting to seeing someone who looks like them lead a live-action Disney movie about a princess. The last time this happened was when Brandy played Cinderella in the 1997 made-for-TV movie of the same name. It's been 26 years so, of course, we showed up in droves to be mesmerized, inspired, and lit from within by Halle's performance.
- Sabrina Reed
Hidden Remote Associate Editor

How this fandom made the world a better place

When backlash shook the Internet as more people began to learn Disney's live-action Ariel is Black, fans said absolutely not. They championed Halle, sharing the filmmakers' own words on why she was cast, and letting it be known that she was the best actress for the job. In doing so, The Little Mermaid fandom continued the work done by fans who've always been there to support and defend Black actresses working in genre storytelling because there is a place for Black voices and faces in fantasy and we're not going anywhere.

How this fandom is changing entertainment

The popularity of The Little Mermaid has spawned a Disney Junior version set to premiere in 2024 that will continue Ariel's adventures. This ensures, just like the '90s animated series based on the original movie, that this isn't a one-and-done. Little children will be seeing a Black mermaid on TV and learn life lessons from her and her friends, keeping in the growing tradition of people from different walks of life influencing the understanding and ability to empathize with those who look like you and don't with young children.