Hope ‘The Little Mermaid’ Remake Will Be More Feminist

Hope ‘The Little Mermaid’ Remake Will Be More Feminist

My favorite movie as a kid was Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”. I grew up watching VHS non-stop, enchanted by Ariel’s beautiful red hair, bold personality and powerful voice. When we’d go to the lake, I’d love to enact the iconic scene of Ariel emerging from the water to perch on a rock, hair flowing behind her, waves majestically splashing, dreamily singing, “I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but I know something is starting now.”

The film begins with Ariel’s desire to explore the world beyond the corner of the ocean that she knows. She wants to free herself from the oppression of her current situation. She fights bad guys (a shark), saves lives like a hero (Prince Eric), stands up to a bully (her father) and generally makes choices to control her destiny.

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After Ariel falls in love “at first sight”, the whole plot changes. Her aim—once broadly defined as wanting a life lived on her terms—focuses intensely on the romantic. Looking back as an adult, it occurs to me that she sees him as her gateway into the human world, a way out of her current predicament. Because women have been conditioned by society to believe that the only way to have power is through our proximity to white male privilege, so we sometimes inadvertently perpetuate the patriarchal system through the power of our husbands.

In the film, Ariel visits Ursula, the sea witch, who says she can turn Ariel into a human if she changes her voice. Understandably, Ariel hesitates. Ursula interrupts her singing: “You will have your look! Your beautiful face! And don’t underestimate the importance of body language! …The men upstairs don’t like chattering much… They adore and swoon and fawn over a lady who’s withdrawn. It is she who holds the tongue that stays with the man.”

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As a kid, I took this part of the movie in stride. As an adult and father of a daughter, I am horrified. I wonder how it never occurred to me that Ariel’s decision to change her voice would never pay off. None of the adults around me at the time questioned the narrative aloud.

It’s just a movie for sure. But what makes a child’s subconscious marinate in insidious ideas packed with catchy music and captivating animation? And how will children know how to question a narrative unless the adults in their lives help them think critically about what they’re ingesting?

Why the original version of “The Little Mermaid” is problematic

The more I think about the original “Little Mermaid”, the more problems I encounter. Ariel is 16, and a quick Google search reveals that Prince Eric is 18. As a child, I was mesmerized by his beauty. Now I find her impossible body proportions troubling on several levels as I feel it promotes the sexualization and fetishization of a minor.

I could go on. King Triton embodies toxic masculinity and abusive, coercive parents, but at the end of the movie all is forgiven because he “allows” Ariel to marry her prince. Ursula is an embodiment of internalized misogyny, perpetuating the idea that women should compete for a limited amount of power. The most disappointing thing for me is seeing Eric defeat Ursula by impaling her with his boat at the end of the film. And our once daring princess completely disappears.

I don’t think anyone at Disney had any nefarious intentions, I just think we know more now than we did then. Our collective consciousness has been elevated. This leads me to wonder what Disney is going to do about the plot of the upcoming live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.”

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Related: Dear Daughter – Here’s the Truth About Disney Princesses and Fairy Tales

A few months ago, I watched my four-year-old daughter walk across the stage at her preschool graduation. We both grinned with pride as the teacher commented, “That girl is fearless. She knows what she wants.”

There’s not much more I want for my daughter than for her to know her desires and be able to stand up for herself, trusting that she can show her true self and people will accept her with acceptance. It’s something I’m still working on for myself, at 35.

I’ve been encouraged in recent years because Disney writers have started to tell stories that really focus on women and girls. While they’re still not perfect, “Frozen” and “Moana” make huge strides compared to the old Disney princesses. Neither Elsa nor Moana have a love interest. In fact, “Frozen” intentionally debunks the idea of ​​love at first sight, and while Anna has a romantic plot, her willingness to sacrifice her life for her sister — not a romantic partner — is what saves her.

Moana’s story is a heroine’s journey to the feminist symbol of the spiral at the heart of Te Fiti. I can’t help but cry every time I see Moana declare powerful truths about her own identity and the identity of Te Kā; the Lava Monster. To herself, she still says: “And the call is not out there, it’s inside me… whatever happens, I know the way. I am Moana.”

Halle Bailey, lead actress in the new live-action “The Little Mermaid”“, said in an interview, “We keep a lot of the meat from the movie that made us fall in love with this movie. It’s really her, and her common sense… but also up to date with current times. She really goes for what she wants. She’s not scared, and it’s not all about a boy. It’s all about what she wants for herself and her life.”

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The new “The Little Mermaid” comes out in May 2023, and I have reason to hope Disney has the conscience to let Halle Bailey’s Ariel join the ranks of Moana, Anna and Elsa as princesses I’m happy to leave my fierce, opinionated daughter to emulate.

Source : www.mother.ly

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About the Author: Steven Wiliem

A writer who is reliable in conveying information to the public who has a lot of interest in journalism.