(Photo courtesy of disney.com)
By Nkatha Wainaina
Disney played an integral part in setting standards for animations for decades, and in a few years, a whole century. It has risen to unbelievable heights, owning half of Hollywood ( I’m not joking, Google the companies Disney owns). With all its might and prowess, Disney can’t seem to get a live-action remake right!
A few weeks ago, a teaser for The Little Mermaid live-action movie was released. And it was a hit! Before I go on, you might be wondering what a live-action movie is. This is action in films involving real people or animals, as contrasted with animation or computer generated effects. And Disney has been on a roll making such movies, especially if the animation did really well.
I can bet that barely a handful of serious Disney fans and self-proclaimed critics have watched the original movies. To make this observation as accurate and original as possible for you my dear reader, I have been taking a walk down memory lane, watching the original Disney movies from all the way back to the early 1900’s when Walt Disney was writing the stories himself! If you have a moment, you might want to check out those movies. The kind of production they were doing, with the kind of technology that was in existence then, mind blowing and you kind of understand why they have a monopoly in the industry today.
Back to The Little Mermaid, it blew up the internet for one reason only. Ariel, the mermaid the movie is based on, is being played by Halle Bailey. Halle is an African American actress and singer. ‘Black Twitter’, (black users on twitter) could not contain their excitement. Regular Twitter ( white people) could also not suppress their dismay at Disney for casting a woman of colour for the role. And a war begun. Why am I telling you all this? I think The Little Mermaid live-action remake will be a bigger success than the other remakes because of only one reason, the black community will come out in numbers to support their own, and white people will show up to prove it was a bad idea casting a black woman.
Looking at Disney’s track record for their remakes, is quite telling. The Lion King released in 2019 for one, is among the lowest ranked of the nineteen remakes even though it grossed 1.9 billion dollars in box offices. I wasn’t very invested in The Lion King. Apparently it was the biggest thing in the ‘90s next to Destiny’s Child and Tupac. Those who watched it then were mad at the live action remake. “They didn’t do the movie justice “, said one disappointed fan. Mulan also received negative reviews and people said ‘it lost the point of the original movie’. Cinderella has had countless remakes only two doing exceedingly well. I enjoyed The Beauty and the Beast, but people still had a problem with it. The list goes on and on from Aladdin, to the most recent Pinocchio, which was devastatingly bad. The only one which was spared from ridicule is The Jungle Book, which ranked highest at 94% according to Rotten Tomatoes with little negative reviews. What are the odds that the Disney live-action remake writers have figured out where they are going wrong and changed it in The Little Mermaid? And that is why Disney should be stopped.
As much as people complain, we still go ahead and watch the remakes. Perhaps that’s what is keeping them going or the insane amounts of money they make. Who can tell for sure. This, however, is just a theory. The Little Mermaid might shock us.