The touching reactions to The Little Mermaid trailer are showing the power of representation

The touching reactions to the release of the trailer for Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid highlight the cultural impact of a modern Black Disney princess. 

When it comes to how films and TV shows are reflecting modern society, the power of representation is a subject that is now firmly part of the mainstream conversation. In the last month, the importance of seeing diverse characters on our screens has been in the headlines with the release of HBO’s epic Game of Thrones prequel House Of The Dragon and The Lord Of The Rings prequel The Rings Of Power, which have made efforts to address the historically white casts of their original series.

There could be no better example of the power of representation, though, than the touching reactions seen following the release of the new teaser trailer for Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.

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Starring Halle Bailey as Ariel, the first look at the adaptation of the beloved 1989 animated movie has generated an outstanding reaction. Not only has the trailer outstripped all recent Disney live-action teasers with 104 million global views, but it also claimed Reddit’s No 1 trending topic on Friday night and the number one trending video spot on YouTube’s ‘Movies’ section. 

The biggest impact, though, could be felt in the outpouring of videos from parents recording their children’s excited and emotional reactions to the short clip of Bailey singing Part Of Your World.

In a viral thread by Twitter user normanination4, a stream of TikTok videos showed young Black girls reacting to The Little Mermaid trailer and their joy and surprise at seeing a Black Disney princess.

In every clip, the girls react to seeing a Black Ariel with huge grins and excitedly comment on Bailey’s skin tone. “She’s brown like me,” one girl says, while another remarks: “She’s black? Yay!” 

The reactions have highlighted the immense cultural impact of diverse casting in children’s media, and Bailey herself has also responded to the impact that her role will have on the next generation of young Black girls who are able to see themselves reflected on screen.

“People have been sending these reactions to me all weekend and I’m in truly in awe. This means the world to me,” she tweeted alongside one of the supercut reaction videos.

At D23 Expo, Bailey described how special it was to be cast as Ariel in the new adaptation.

“Being a little girl swimming in the pool, imagining I was a mermaid, I never imagined that would come to life,” she said. 

“The three days filming Part Of Your World was the most beautiful experience of my life – feeling all the feelings she feels, her passion, discomfort, everything she’s experiencing. It was so exciting for me to play those emotions and to have Rob directing me and being such a moving force on this film was really an honour.”

Director Rob Marshall, meanwhile, has said that while the live-action remake will “honour the original” animated film, he wanted to “bring some depth” to the reimagined story, which will add four new songs by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The Little Mermaid is due to be released on 26 May 2023.

Images: Getty

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