Danish author H.C. Andersen’s classic story The Little Mermaid (Den lille havfrue) was made into a cartoon version by The Walt Disney Company in 1989.
On May 26, the film will be re-released in Sweden and has been redesigned in a digitally animated form, including making the mermaid dark-skinned and revising the sequence where Prince Eric is encouraged to kiss Ariel.
Over the past decade or so, the Walt Disney Company has acquired a number of other film companies and have as a result gained control over a number of lucrative film and television franchises. A recurring feature in Disney’s repertoire is the company’s remakes of cartoon classics, including computer-animated remakes like 2019’s The Lion King and feature films like 2016’s The Jungle Book.
This year the turn has come to The Little Mermaid which, like most of its rebranded predecessors, has also been the subject of fierce criticism for politicization. Youtube had to block the dislike button for the film’s trailer after 1.5 million thumbs down and the film has also been heckled on Twitter under the hashtag #notmyariel.
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Among other things, two of composer Allan Menken’s beloved songs will be revised, including the sequence where Prince Eric is encouraged to kiss the mermaid Ariel, as it has been suggested that this could be interpreted as if the Prince is “forcing himself on her”, and when the antagonist Ursula tries to get Ariel to give up her voice.
– There are text changes in “Kiss the Girl”, because people have become very sensitive to the idea that (Prince Eric) would somehow force himself upon (Ariel). “We’ve made some changes to ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ regarding lines that might somehow make young girls feel like they’re not allowed to speak unnecessarily, even though Ursula is clearly manipulating Ariel to give up her voice, Menken himself said in an interview with pop culture magazine Vanity Fair.