The controversy over black Ariel and our problem with the other's face

The controversy over black Ariel and our problem with the other's face

It was enough that last weekend, at the D23 Disney Expo, the teaser trailer of The Little Mermaid in which Ariel is played by Halle Bailey was presented to awaken the most fussy controversies of the generalist web. In the new live-action of the house of Mickey Mouse, which will be released in May 2023, the 22-year-old singer and actress who, coincidentally, is also a black girl was called to give her face and voice. Ever since the announcement of this film project in 2019, nostalgia purists and the most trained sirenologists have lashed out at the alleged absurdity of proposing a sea creature that was not white: the main argument is that Ariel has always been white with eyes. blue and red hair, therefore it is impossible to betray this fetish image.

Content This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

Many, probably strong from their last visit to Copenhagen, have also disturbed the Scandinavian origins of the story, written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837, without however considering that - in addition to our Greco-Roman conception of mermaids (which at first were even half woman and half bird, not half fish) - there are similar creatures in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Polynesian, African folklore. There are also those who have tried a scientific approach, arguing that it is not possible for mermaids living in the seabed to receive enough sunlight to darken their melanin. Washington, Karen Osborn, who clarified how there are many species of fish that live in the depths of the sea and are very black, especially to surprise the prey).

The various objections from those who feel betrayed by a black representation of the Little Mermaid can always be answered in a more or less rational way. On the other hand, the same rigmarole has been repeated several times in recent years and even more in recent months: the casting of Steve Toussaint in House of the Dragon in the role of Lord Corlys Velaryon, or that of Ismael Cruz Córdova in those of the elf. Arondir in The Rings of Power or - again in a Disney live-action, Pinocchio - by Cynthia Erivo in the part of the Blue Fairy has scandalized many web commentators, mostly convinced that these are moves exclusively guided by politically correct ("if they don't bring a black character, they're not happy "). The objection, the more belly one, is always the same: are you really interested in the skin color of a fictional character? Are you really worried if a black mermaid, fairy or black elf seem unrealistic?

On closer inspection this topic hides a simplification and a laziness: as written by the journalist expert in pop culture and comics Riccardo Corbò in an excellent post on Facebook, since there have been nerds or more generally fans of a particular genre or story, there are those who break their hair in four to verify the plausibility or consistency of the most minute details of any universe narrative. The problem is that often this attitude, especially in the last cases mentioned, is not done in the good faith of the fan who claims absolute accuracy of the storytelling to which he is exposed, but is carried forward as a precise political annoyance with respect to the openness to inclusion and diversity: counting characters (and therefore actors) of color for these people is not only not a requirement, but also a stretch, sometimes a danger.

In these hours, in response to the backlash on black Ariel, in the various social networks the tender videos of black girls are depopulated who, watching the trailer of the film, react with amazement, wonder and even emotion finally seeing someone who looks like them on the screen.

TikTok content This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

Because, although this video reaction is also a somewhat instinctive and simplifying way of dealing with the issue, the the real problem is there: decades and decades of white media representation have made us forget that there is an entire part of the population that has never recognized itself except in white models. And if their representation has been canceled for a long time, we have developed a problem with the face of the other, of those who are not like us: if they do not like a stereotype useful for white fiction then we do not recognize it, we reject it, it is something. which must be pointed out with something else, alien.

The rhetoric of politically correct is the weapon of choice, the straw man argument, of early racists. And even those who react crossly to Ariel while not recognizing themselves as a racist, do not realize that the argument of nostalgia ("This is not the Ariel I grew up with") is itself a weapon of the reactionary forces celebrating the past. like a perfect idyll from which you will never wake up. Instead, the future is already here, there are entire generations of people who ask to be mirrored where we have always mirrored ourselves, in films, series, screens, stories. And when we understand this and overcome the usual, cyclical sterile controversies maybe we will focus on the even bigger problems, such as that these Disney live-action remakes (including the latest Pinocchio, despite the usual excellence of Tom Hanks) are, beyond of the pigments of its protagonists, of pedantic and not very useful operations, if not to trigger the purists of the past.

Powered by Blogger.