Trevor Noah does not want to be part of a world with racist trolls.
After the first footage of Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” featured lead star Halle Bailey singing “Part of Your World,” the teaser trailer received online backlash, triggering 1.5 million “dislikes” on YouTube before the rating feature was disabled. Bailey was cast as Ariel in 2019, leading to a #NotMyAriel racist Twitter campaign. The new teaser for the film reignited the color-blind casting debate.
“Really, people — we’re doing this again?” Trevor Noah slammed the criticism that Bailey looks “nothing like” the animated Ariel from the 1989 Oscar-winning animated film. “Nothing like? They both have the tail, they both have the red [hair].”
The “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” host continued, “Once again, a bunch of internet racists are upset that a fictional character is being played by a Black person. This is so ridiculous.”
“The Little Mermaid” also stars Javier Bardem, Melissa McCarthy, Awkwafina, and Daveed Diggs, and features four new songs co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alan Menken. The film is set to premiere May 26, 2023.
Noah said that “Finding Nemo” is a Black story because the Pixar film is “about a fish who can’t find his dad,” before reminding audiences that “The Little Mermaid” is an “imaginary” fairytale.
“Look, stop being ridiculous,” Noah added. “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.”
Lead star Bailey, who is one half of the sister duo Chloe x Halle, told The Hollywood Reporter, “The fact that I get to represent all of these little young Black and brown boys and girls who are to come is really special to me because I know that if I had that when I was younger, it would have changed my whole perspective on life.”
Original “Little Mermaid” voice actress Jodi Benson defended Bailey’s casting, telling ComicBook.com, “I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters. 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.”
A new TikTok trend also shows young girls of color exclaiming at seeing Bailey as Ariel for the first time: “She’s Black like me!”