Grace Gipson on Pop Junctions

07 Feb, 2023

Grace Gipson on Pop Junctions

BCNM alum Grace Gipson discusses race, fandom, and casting choices on the Pop Junctions blog. In the Pop Junctions article “Part of Your World”: Fairy Tales, Race, #BlackGirlMagic, and The Little Mermaid, Gipson critically examines pushback against casting Halle Bailey in the the 2023 live action adaptation of The Little Mermaid and provides socio historical context that validates the casting choice.

Grace D. Gipson received her PhD from UC Berkeley and is currently an assistant professor of African American Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. She teaches courses on theories and foundations in Africana Studies, Blackness in pop culture, and Black media narratives, and her research interests include Black pop culture, race and gender in comics, Afrofuturism, and digital humanities

From the Pop Junctions article: In 2016 Disney announced a live-action adaptation of its 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid. Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's 1837 fairy tale, the animation earned critical acclaim, took $84 million at the domestic box office during its initial release, and won two Academy Awards (for Best Original Score and Best Original Song). Given Disney’s recent foray into creating live-action adaptations of some of its most successful animated films, it’s no surprise that The Little Mermaid was added to the list. Yet controversy rose when Black actress Halle Bailey was announced as Ariel in July 2019. Among the critiques was the argument that the adaptation should be as close to the original as possible, and the original featured a white mermaid; that if a Black character was re-cast as white in a remake there would be uproar; and while representation in all forms is important it shouldn’t override the history of the characters (Figure 1.1):

Read the full article here!