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15th Sep 2022

Little Mermaid being black makes scientific sense, marine biologist suggests

April Curtin

It comes after racists started questioning the casting of a black actor in the new movie

The Little Mermaid being black makes scientific sense, a marine biologist has suggested.

A trailer for the much-anticipated, live-action reboot of the classic 1989 cartoon film was shown to Disney insiders during the D23 Expo last week – a huge Disney event where fans get exclusive access to trailers as well as content.

The movie stars Halle Bailey – a 22-year-old singer and actor who, along with her sister, makes up half of the Grammy award-winning musical duo Chloe x Halle.

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A post shared by Halle Bailey (@hallebailey)

While most viewers were wowed by the teaser and praised 22-year-old Bailey’s incredible vocals in a snippet of ‘Part of Your World’ that was shown in the preview, a number of racists took to social media to begin the hashtag “#notmyariel,” questioning Disney’s use of black actors in its films.

Marine biologist Karen Osborn has since delivered a powerful blow to the racist backlash, by explaining exactly why mermaids would be black if they were real.

Speaking to BuzzFeed, the fish skin, scale and surface expert explained how, as you get deeper into the ocean, you see “lots of ultra-black fish” which have a “really good camouflage” – something which works as an advantage for both predators and prey.

So, as prey, “if you absorb all the light that hits you and the background behind you is black, then you blend in really well,” she said.

In terms of being a predator, Osborn detailed how if you’re trying to attract something, you don’t want to be obvious.

“So if the light disappears into their skin? No problem,” she said.

It turns out that if mermaids were real, Osborn thinks they would be transparent anyway, because that would make mermaids the most suited to habitats in shallower water.

“Because if they’re transparent, they can blend in pretty well,” Osborn said.

“But that makes for difficult movie shooting. I don’t think they’ll find any transparent actresses,” she added.

While the trailer was well received at the expo, it hasn’t gone down so well online, where YouTube has had to disable the dislike counter after it racked up over 1.5m thumbs’ down.

However, it has also gone viral for a far more positive reason, with parents sharing their children’s reaction to seeing a Black woman as Ariel.

The Little Mermaid will be arriving in cinemas in May, 2023.

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