This year for Halloween, Gertie dressed up as Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
As you can see, she absolutely killed it, even if she did completely hate the wig. But her very convincing Ariel did reveal one shocking fact: Sean had never seen The Little Mermaid. So of course I needed to remedy that oversight, which means we both watched it and to be honest, I have some concerns.
First, was this movie always so racist? I mean, Sebastian (the crab) has an accent that he shouldn’t have. I mean, I’ll describe it as “Caribbean” …possibly Jamaican. The story seems to take place off the coast of some European country, probably Denmark. That’s a pretty far swim for a crab. Voiced by Samuel E. Wright, a black man born in South Carolina, I obviously have to question Sebastian’s provenance. And why does the only “black” (I mean actually he’s red) character in the film sing about how good it is to be unemployed underwater? He literally calls the land lubbers slaves. But excuse me, there is one other black character, a “black fish” who sings. She is literally panned to for less than a second – blink and you’ll miss her.
So of course while I’m researching this, I’ve come across some other interesting food for thought.
- Flounder is not actually a flounder. I mean, I realize I’m not actually a Jay either but I find this way more misleading in a children’s movie [possibly my name is also confusing to children: my adorable and super-smart niece Ella, a year and a half old, is still refusing to say my one-syllable name and says instead “I no can do that” just to prove that she’s perfectly capable of complex sentences and is just happiest when she’s spiting me].
- How did Flounder get the statue of Eric into Ariel’s grotto? This is Sean’s question of course. Flounder is an overweight fish with tiny little fins for arms. The statue is more than human-sized and made of concrete. What the heck?
- Ursula is a Cecaelia (half human, half octopus)…but is she actually an octopus? She technically only has 6 tentacles (it was cheaper than animating 8) but since she has 2 arms, I guess we’ll call it a draw. Octopus tentacles are distributed as 6 arms and 2 legs, but whatever. The team at Disney created Ursula with a drag queen named Divine in mind; unfortunately, Divine died before voice recording. I kind of love Ursula though. I love that she flaunts her curves and is always wearing a perfectly made up face. She’s got a soft spot for her pets (or sidekicks? henchmen?) Flotsam and Jetsam and a penchant for musical numbers and dramatics. My god, is Ursula ME? I do look hot in purple.
- Why doesn’t Eric’s dog Max talk? Most of the characters in this movie are animals and they all talk (and sing and dance) except for poor Max. And while I’m at it, why doesn’t Ariel write? She has no voice with which to enchant Eric so she should just write him a damn letter instead of pathetically miming things and letting a crab try to establish a sense of intimacy. We know she CAN write – she signs her damn name to Ursula’s contract. So she’s just being obstinate.
- Okay, Ariel is worse than just obstinate. She’s kind of a bitch. Granted she’s only 16 so probably can’t help it, but damn, why do we even like this girl? She’s chronically late and disrespectful of everyone else. She shames Flounder into doing naughty things. And then she pathetically throws herself at practically the only man she’s ever seen and falls in love with him for no reason whatsoever and even mutilates her own body in order to earn his acceptance. Plus she likes puffy sleeves.
- It seems like Ursula actually tried to murder Ariel right off the bat. Their deal is: Ariel gives up her voice to become a human. She becomes human on the spot, and the spot, let’s remember, is miles underwater. She no longer has a tail so she can’t swim, and hello, nor can she breathe. Neither she nor Ursula knew that Flounder and Sebastian were conveniently hiding nearby, so ostensibly Ariel should have drowned on the spot. Good thing her fat fish friend saved her life and got no thanks at all!