Trevor Noah was visibly frustrated as he addressed the latest racist outrage to the selection of a Black actor in a film on The Daily Show last night. This time, it was the casting of Halle Bailey in the lead role of Disney’s live-action Little Mermaid.
Once more, a group of online bigots are incensed that a Black person is portraying a fake character, said Noah. “This is so silly, and to be honest, I don’t get the fuss. Do you guys understand that Nemo was also Black? The main focus of the entire film was a fish looking for his father”.
The decision to cast Bailey as Ariel the mermaid has drawn the same racist backlash from internet trolls as the previous castings of Black performers in fantasy series like House of the Dragon and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
Noah said, “Nothing like? “, to the racist claims that Bailey doesn’t resemble the 1989 animated character. “They both have red hair, and they both have tails.”
“Look, stop being ridiculous,” he continued. “It’s imaginary. I hope this scandal doesn’t overshadow the rest of the movie. The Little Mermaid is a beautiful story about a young woman changing her core identity to please a man. Let’s not forget about that, people.”
Noah’s most recent critique of the story’s “fundamental identity” theme brought to mind Malcolm Gladwell’s well-received and contentious three part 2021 Revisionist History podcast dissection of The Little Mermaid.
Watch the clip from The Daily Show below. At at the 4:39 minute, the discussion of “The Little Mermaid” starts.