PHOTO BY WILLIAM CROCHOT/WIKICOMMONS
To evolve is to develop gradually, from a simple to a more complex form. The Walt Disney Company has evolved more in the last 15 years than its entire 80-year history.
One can now find gay pride gear not made on online by someone else but in Disney’s stores and parks which was not done before. And now, Disney has films of featuring characters of various ethnicities now, rather than just white. They include, but are not limited to: Middle Eastern, Native American, Chinese, African American, Scottish, and Hawaiian.
The most recent decision made by Disney Studios was to cast an African- American female for the role of Ariel, in the live-action film, “The Little Mermaid.”
Halle Bailey is the young actress who has been shamed by the public because of the color of her skin and is being deemed unfit to play a fictional character. The animated Ariel is a mermaid with white skin and red hair, and because of that, the majority of the backlash Bailey is getting is from white people.
These people hate it so much that they have created hashtags, #NotMyAriel, to share all over social media and signed petitions for her to be re-cast.
Disney has made more than 700 films over 80 years, including big screen and small screen films according to the Disney fan club D23.
Disney did not come out with an African American princess until 2009. For over 70 years, little black girls have had to watch characters of the same ethnicity of white time after time get the magic and happily ever after story.
Today, Disney does the right thing in having Bailey play the main character because it shows that a fictional- animated characters can be played by anyone in real life and that finally princesses are not tied to one specific race.
There are people of every ethnicity that sat and watched those 700 films of 80 years of Disney Studios, who still have not been on the big screen, and they are not causing a commotion. As soon as a black person gets cast over a white person, it’s a full-on WWE match.
The other courageous decision Disney made recently was to make the hit animated film “Mulan” in live-action, but based off a true story and not the original film we all know and love.
As being a big fan of Mulan myself, I was disappointed at first, but then I heard that Mulan is being based off a true story, and of course, I switched and was excited by the real-life story come to the big screen.
Mulan, and the story behind it deserves its time on the big screen too. We are all about equal opportunities and the ability to share our stories but that means nothing if we can not actively take action and practice that in real life. We do so by allowing real stories to be told, no songs and talking dragons, but let the truth speak.
Both decisions made by Disney, in casting an African-American as a mermaid and telling the true story of a Chinese woman that fights in the army for her father, I stand by.
We live in a world which should mean equal chances for all. Meaning the role to a white mermaid can go to any color under the sun. The truth is something we value, therefore the true story of Mulan should be commended instead of speaking negatively about just because of a few differences.
Disney is evolving into a company that I appreciate more and more because they realize they have 80 years worth of catching up to do. They need to catch up in pop culture, race, language, gender and so much more. They are putting the right steps forward in inclusivity which is something to commend.