Saturday, May 25, 2019

O Ariel, Ariel, wherefore art thou Ariel?

Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love

And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

If you've had kids in the past 30 years then at some stage you almost certainly will have sat down with them to watch The Little Mermaid. It's the story of a mermaid princess named Ariel who dreams of becoming human, after falling in love with a human prince named Eric. 

The movie is regarded as a landmark for Disney in that, together with Who Framed Roger Rabbit, it revived their animated feature films after over a decade of failure. It was a massive commercial and critical success, and even though it came out in 1989 my kids were all keen to watch (and re-watch) it over a decade later. Famous Chicago movie critic Roger Ebert praised Ariel as:
“a fully realized female character who thinks and acts independently, even rebelliously, instead of hanging around passively while the fates decide her destiny.”
Or you could have gone with the LA Time's Movie critic take:
“Mermaid's” saucy heroine, Ariel, isn't much like Andersen's sad, noble sea-maid. She's a sexy little honey-bunch with a double-scallop-shell bra and a mane of red hair tossed in tumble-out-of-bed Southern California salon style. She has no gills, but, when she smiles, she shows an acre of Farrah Fawcett teeth.
Yeah, baby!

But that was then and this is now, and Ebert was just another Old White Male trying to pretend he was a feminist. Which is how we get articles like I Regret The Day I Let My Daughter Watch ‘The Little Mermaid’:
I just want my child to have room for plenty of other things in her life that don’t involve being totally immersed in a story about a princess who sets a piss-poor example for little girls everywhere. I wanted to remain blissfully unaware of this princess obsession I kept hearing about but I can only blame myself that it reared its ugly head in my household.
Reading this, I imagined the mother thusly:

Anyway, with all this shite going on I figured you all might get a laugh out of the little ditty in that first clip, which is based on the famous song from The Little Mermaid.

Maybe you'll even show it and the original movie to your grandkids, assuming you're not in jail and that Amazon/Netflix/Hulu are still willing to screen the original.

Actually when you think about it, there's no reason why The Little Mermaid could not find a second life as trans-hero/heroine story. After all, she dreams of becoming human: she's cool with the idea of losing the fish tail, gaining legs and getting married.

And all it takes is a kiss!

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