Some people simply refuse to see the magic in Disney‘s upcoming The Little Mermaid live-action remake.
During the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday, actor Halle Bailey, who plays titular mermaid character Ariel, and Melissa McCarthy, who plays Ursula, introduced the first full-length trailer for the much-anticipated remake.
Previously, Disney had released two short teaser trailers that offered only glimpses of Ariel and her oceanic companions.
The new two-minute trailer — which shows scenes of Ariel saving Prince Eric from drowning in a storm — has been viewed 7.9 million times on YouTube. The feedback online, however, has not been entirely positive, with the trailer garnering at least 839,000 dislikes since it was posted on Monday. There are only 165,000 likes on the video.
Backlash against the film has existed since the project was announced publicly. When it was reported in 2019 that 22-year-old Bailey would play Ariel, there was an instant negative wave of criticism online from those who felt a Black woman should not play the iconic mermaid princess.
The social media tag #NotMyAriel trended as a result.
YouTube as a whole even opted to disable the site’s public dislike counter as a result of a hateful barrage on the original teaser trailer, which amassed 1.5 million dislikes in the first two days of its September 2022 release.
Last month, Bailey spoke to the magazine The Face about the racism she’s experienced as a result of playing Ariel.
“As a Black person, you just expect it and it’s not really a shock anymore,” she told the outlet.
Still, Bailey said she does not have regrets and maintained that it is important to see Black people in major movies.
“People don’t understand that when you’re Black there’s this whole other community. It’s so important for us to see ourselves,” she said.
Bailey said the reaction from young Black girls who watched the original trailer and saw themselves in the newest Disney princess was enough to remind her of that importance. Within hours of the original trailer’s release, parents on social media shared dozens of videos of their children reacting to the first view of Bailey as Ariel.
Sitting directly in front of her TV, one young girl shouted as Ariel appeared on screen, and even did a double-take to make sure what she was seeing was true. While rolling with excitement on the floor, the girl said, “She’s brown like me. I’m so excited.”
The new live-action film is a remake of the Disney animated classic The Little Mermaid from 1989. The story follows a young mermaid, Ariel, who makes a deal with an evil sea witch to grow legs and live on land in order to fall in love with a prince, all at the cost of her voice.
Jonah Hauer-King plays Prince Eric, while several other powerhouse performers play various roles, including Javier Bardem as Ariel’s father King Triton, Daveed Diggs as the crab Sebastian, Jacob Tremblay as Ariel’s best fish friend Flounder and Awkwafina as the seagull, Scuttle.
The film will have its theatrical release on May 26, 2023.