February 23, 2020

What We Learned from Little Mermaid Casting

“When the casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid was announced earlier this week, it was met with positive surprise. Fans who want to see greater diversity on screen have come to expect disappointment when it comes to casting in major Hollywood films. The casting of a black woman in a historically white role signalled an important moment in the ongoing push for greater representation.

However, the optimism was quickly dampened. Anyone who has spent time online is aware of the cycle of outrage that comes after such announcements. For years now, casting announcements which skew from tradition have almost always been met with a messy push-back; think back to all woman Ghostbusters, Jodie Whittaker announced as Dr Who, Zendaya’s rumoured as MJ in Spider-Man, and the slew of hate-filled tweets, think-pieces and videos that followed their casting.

But with the The Little Mermaid news, it seemed like some people that supported Bailey’s casting were preempting the cycle and searching for any negative tweets they could find about the news. Quickly tweets with minimal likes, or accounts with small follower counts, were retweeted and quote-tweeted numerous times, giving large public platforms to statements that would have usually disappeared into Twitter’s echo-chamber.”

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