Last week Disney announced that they had found their live-action Ariel for the upcoming The Little Mermaid film in Halle Bailey, an actress best known for her work in the music group Chloe x Halle as well as appearances in Grown-ish, Austin & Ally, and Last Holiday. While the announcement was an exciting one as fans had been eagerly awaiting casting for the iconic mermaid role, it was also met with some backlash due to Bailey being African American. Now, though, a hilarious meme is taking social media by storm responding to that backlash with what might be the best adaptation of the "distracted boyfriend" meme yet.
On Twitter, a user named Perri (@Per_Bearr) shared a meme in which the popular meme was recreated with a Tiana doll from The Princess and the Frog, an Eric doll from the animated The Little Mermaid, and what appears to be the white, red-haired Ariel doll also from The Little Mermaid. The dolls are posed with Eric looking back and "checking out" Tiana even though he's "with" Ariel. It's too good to be described, so take a look at the post below.
While Perri doesn't appear to be the originator of the meme based on her "who did this" caption, the post has gone viral with, at the time of this article's writing, over 14,000 retweets and more than 52,000 likes. Response to the post has been largely positive, with many sharing their own memes in response.
It's that positive response that is worth noting as it reaffirms that while there is a vocal minority who are "outraged" at the idea of a "white" character being played by a "black" actor, there is a lot of justified support for the move. Even Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in Disney's 1989 animated classic, has come to Bailey's defense, explaining that it's the story that matters, not the skin color or race of the person helping to bring the story to life.
"The most important thing is to tell the story," Benson said at Florida Supercon convention this past weekend. "And we have, as a family, we have raised our children, and for ourselves, that we don't see anything that's different on the outside. I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters. What you bring to the table in a character as far as their heart, and their spirit, is what really counts. And the outside package -- cause let's face it, I'm really, really old -- and so when I'm singing 'Part of Your World,' if you were to judge me on the way that I look on the outside, it might change the way that you interpret the song. But if you close your eyes, you can still hear the spirit of Ariel."
“We need to be storytellers. And no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter our race, our nation, the color of our skin, our dialect, whether I’m tall or thin, whether I’m overweight or underweight, or my hair is whatever color, we really need to tell the story,” Benson said to applause.
“And that’s what we want to do, we want to make a connection to the audience. So I know for Disney that they have the heart of storytelling, that’s really what they’re trying to do. They want to communicate with all of us in the audience so that we can fall in love with the film again.”3comments
Disney's live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid does not yet have a release date.
What do you think about this take on the "distracted boyfriend" meme? Let us know in the comments below.