Parents of young Black girls are posting videos of their thrilled children reacting to the trailer for Disney's coming live action "Little Mermaid," which stars Halle Bailey as Ariel.
"Mommy!" a little girl says in a video posted by TikTok user nickyknackpaddywack. "She's brown like me!"
Her video is among the many being shared across TikTok and Twitter, with parents using hashtags like #representationmatters to help demonstrate the importance of diverse casting in children’s media.
Disney debuted a teaser trailer of the film at D23 over the weekend. The trailer has amassed almost 11 million views on YouTube.
But its release reignited racist backlash online, which first surfaced in 2019 following news of Bailey's casting, from some people who said they think Disney is "too woke" for making the film's title character Black.
In the original animated film, released in 1989, Ariel, a fictional mermaid, is depicted as a white, red-haired woman.
In one of the reaction videos, posted by TikTok user Precious Avery, a toddler named Emery lounges on the couch but sits up when she Bailey appears on screen.
"I think she's brown!" a beaming Emery says in the video. "Brown Ariel is cute."
TikTok user callmedarii posted a similar video of her daughters' delighted reactions to seeing Ariel.
"That's why representation matters! We can't wait to watch this," she captioned the video.
"Is Ariel actually Black?" a young girl says in a video posted by TikTok user jendayis682.
"In this 'Little Mermaid' she will be," the person recording the video responds.
"Do you understand how it feels for our babies to see themselves in the fairy tales that the world said wasn't made for them," jendayis682 wrote in the caption. "Say what you want and complain all you want ... I hear nothing over the joy and excitement that this little girl has over seeing a person that represent[s] her."
The new “Little Mermaid” will feature four additional songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, more detailed mermaid tails and a Black princess, director Rob Marshall said at D23, Variety reported.
Marshall said that the live action remake will “honor the original” animated film but that he wanted to “bring some depth” to the reimagined story.
Critics have claimed the casting isn’t faithful to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, which was originally published in Denmark.
But many “Little Mermaid” fans defended Bailey’s casting and pointed out that the 1989 Disney movie also isn’t particularly faithful to Andersen’s fairy tale, which is a violent story that ends with the little mermaid dying after the prince marries another woman.
Television writer Gennifer Hutchinson, who wrote for “Breaking Bad” and is now a writer on “Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power,” said she loved the “nightmare factory version” of “The Little Mermaid.”
In a Twitter thread, she summarized Andersen’s original story, in which the little mermaid’s sisters trade their hair for a knife. The little mermaid has to stab the prince to get her tail back but can’t bring herself to do so.
“She turns into sea foam,” Hutchinson said. “So ... what were people saying again about being ‘true’ to Andersen’s original story?”
Other Twitter users also brought up details from the original story that Disney didn’t include in its animated film.
“Hans Christian Andersen wrote The Little Mermaid in 1837. It’s not ‘a folk tale’ or a myth,” Twitter user ViragoX said. “Her skin is described as translucent green. Her hair color is never mentioned. She is in constant agony with every step she takes, the prince treats her like a pet, then marries another.”
Bailey isn’t the first actor of color to face racist criticism after having been cast in an iconic role.
Following backlash against the casting of the elven warrior Arondir and the dwarven Princess Disa in the Amazon Prime series "Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power," cast members pledged to stand together against racism and harassment in a joint statement.
The "Game of Thrones" prequel series "House of the Dragon" also recently got backlash over the character Lord Corlys Velaryon, who is played by the Black actor Steve Toussaint. Toussaint responded to the racist remarks in a Men's Health interview.
Disney’s “Star Wars” franchise also recently spoke out after “Obi-Wan Kenobi” actor Moses Ingram faced racist attacks online.
In a recent interview with Variety, Bailey addressed the racism she faced, describing her grandparents’ encouragement.
“It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear to the words of encouragement," she said. "Telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you.'"