Freeform Slams Critics of Halle Bailey's 'Little Mermaid' Casting in Newly Released Open Letter

Disney's Freeform is hitting back at critics of Chloe x Halle singer Halle Bailey’s casting as Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Bailey’s casting had been announced last week, though some had criticized the choice for straying away from the light skinned, red-haired appearance of the cartoon character.

In an “open letter to the Poor, Unfortunate Souls” published on their Instagram account, the network, aimed at teens and young adults, defended the casting of a black woman in the role, pointing out the hypocrisy of the hot takes and the fact that an Ariel with a darker complexion was plausible.

“Yes. The original author of The Little Mermaid was Danish. Ariel…is a mermaid. She lives in an underwater kingdom in international waters and can legit swim wherever she wants (even though that often upsets King Triton, absolute zaddy),” Freeform’s post read. “But for the sake of argument, let’s say that Ariel, too, is Danish.”

“Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black,” it continued. “Ariel can sneak up to the surface at any time with her pals Scuttle and the *ahem* Jamaican crab Sebastian (sorry, Flounder!) and keep that bronze base tight. Black Danish people, and this mer-folk, can also *genetically* (!!!) have red hair.”

“But spoiler alert – bring it back to the top – the character of Ariel is a work of fiction,” the network wrote. “So after all this is said and done, and you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is because she ‘doesn’t look like the cartoon one,’ oh boy, do I have some news for you…about you.”

Shortly after Rob Marshall had confirmed on Wednesday that Bailey had been cast as Ariel, citing her “rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance — plus a glorious singing voice,” backlash had been sparked. A petition titled #NotMyAriel was even created in an attempt to recast the character with a white actor.

However, for all of the negative comments, many more have applauded the choice and Disney’s efforts to welcome diversity into their films.

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Bailey, who said that her casting was a “dream come true,” joins Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean’s Eight actress Awkwafina, who will star as Scuttle the seagull, and Room actor Jacob Tremblay, who will play Flounder.

Production on the live-action remake is expected to begin in 2020.

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