I am a natural redhead. When I was growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, it was hard to find on screen characters who looked like me. Among the handful who I could look to as inspiration was Ariel (Jodi Benson) in the 1989 film, The Little Mermaid.
Over the last few years, Disney has rebooted their beloved animated films into live action films. The newest addition to this trend is the live reboot of The Little Mermaid with Halle Bailey stepping into the fins of Disney’s first modern Princess.
I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this casting. While I applaud Disney for choosing an actress of color to play the role, my heart is still wedded to the idea that Ariel is a redhead. When your growing up and you look different from your peers, you look to film and television characters who look like you. When I was a kid, that was Ariel. As an adult, I don’t agree with her narrative, but her image and the impression she made back then are still with me to this day.
Readers, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the casting?
Loosely (and I mean very loosely) based on the story of the same name by Hans Christian Anderson, The Little Mermaid the story of Ariel. Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) is 16 and the youngest daughter of the King Triton (voiced by Kenneth Mars). Rebellious and headstrong (as many teenage girls are), Ariel falls in love with a human prince, Eric (voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes). Making a deal with the sea witch, Ursula (voiced by Pat Carroll), Ariel trades her voice and her tail for legs to hopefully be with Eric. But is it worth the trade-off and will she have her happy ending?
I have mixed feelings about this movie. On one hand, Ariel is is Disney’s OG Ginger. As a redhead, especially as a redhead of a certain generation, Ariel will always have a place in my heart. But that does not mean that I have issues with the character and the narrative.
Ariel is a size 2. Most of us are not a size 2.
How does she not have third degree sunburns? One of the cardinal rules of being a redhead is that sunscreen is a mandatory part of our morning routine.
She willingly gives up her voice and her legs (i.e. her identity) for a man who she barely knows. Not exactly the message that we should be imparting to our daughters.
When push comes to shove (i.e. Ursula tries to get in the way of Ariel and Eric’s happy ending), it is Eric that saves the day.
Ariel wears a pink dress. I don’t know about other redheads, but it’s not a color that exists in my wardrobe.
Ursula is old and fat. Ariel is young and skinny. Therefore, young and thin is good. Old and fat is bad.
Despite my concerns with this movie, The Little Mermaid will always have a place in my heart. I can’t believe it’s been 28 years.
The Little Mermaid is one of the most iconic of fairy tales. It is the story of a young mermaid who falls in love with a human prince and gives up her life as a mermaid to be with the prince.
In the new novel, The Mermaid’s Daughter, by Ann Claycomb, Kathleen lost her mother at an early age to suicide. Raised by her widower father, she is presently an opera student with a bright future. In a steady relationship with her girlfriend, Harry, it seems that she has it all. But Kathleen suffers from a medical malady that no doctor has been able to identify or resolve. The only thing that can help Kathleen is sea water, but it’s healing powers are only temporary.
After another stay in the hospital where the doctors are still unable to diagnose or cure Kathleen, Harry convinces her to take a trip back to the family’s ancestral home in Ireland. What they discover is a past and a history that has repeated on Kathleen’s maternal line for generations. The only way to break the curse that has haunted the women in her family is for Kathleen to choose between her lover and the sea. Neither is an easy choice and both require the loss of life in one capacity or another.
What I liked about this book is that the characters felt very alive. I could feel Kathleen’s torment and her need to be in the sea. I also very much appreciated the relationship between Kathleen and Harry. Their relationship was very much a non issue, for both the reader and the characters. Instead of highlighting that the heroine has a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend, the writer chose just to make it a normal romantic relationship. The only issue that I have is that I did not quite get the ending. It felt a little rushed to me.