“We’re doing this again?”, an exasperated Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show last night as he addressed the latest racist backlash to the casting of a Black actor in a movie – this time around, the casting of Halle Bailey in the title role of Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid.
“Once again, a bunch of internet racists are upset that a fictional character is being played by a Black person,” Noah said. “This is so ridiculous, and honestly I don’t know what the big deal is. You guys realize that Nemo was Black too, right? The whole movie was about a fish that can’t find his dad.”
The casting of Bailey as mermaid Ariel has received the same bigoted pushback by internet trolls that greeted the recent appearances of Black actors in shows such as fantasy series asHouse of the Dragon and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
As for the racist charges that Bailey doesn’t look like the 1989 animated character, Noah said, “Nothing like? They both have the tail, they both have the red [hair].”
“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 latter criticism about the story’s “core identity” message recalled a popular and controversial deconstruction of The Little Mermaid in a three-part 2021 Revisionist History podcast by Malcolm Gladwell.