Emory, Georgia Tech media professors on significance of Black representation in 'The Little Mermaid'

Halle Bailey arrives at the world premiere of "The Little Mermaid" on Monday, May 8, 2023, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Disney’s latest live-action rendition of “The Little Mermaid,” inspired by the 1989 Oscar-winning Disney animated film musical, has taken on a new twist. The main character, a young mermaid named “Ariel,” is played by the Black actress Halle Bailey of the popular music duo Chloe + Halle. The announcement of Bailey’s role as Ariel has brought high praise and hostile criticism alike.

In this interview, “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes speaks with Dr. Nsenga Burton, co-director of the Film and Media Management Concentration at Emory University, and Andre Brock, professor of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech, about the new live-action film. 

“The West is premised on the idea that the representation of humanity should be White, and anything that deviates from that is cause for complaint, not celebration,” Burton said. 

“The Little Mermaid” live-action movie is out now in theaters, and more information is available here.