Josh Gad condemned ‘pathetic’ trolls who disliked the upcoming live-action adaptation teaser trailer for The Little Mermaid.
Since Disney announced Halle Bailey’s casting in July 2019, the network has been met with furious backlash online after taking numerous strides to become more inclusive in recent years.
The negative response to the movie’s official trailer – the first real glimpse at the movie – has been so severe that YouTube disabled the dislike counter after it reached more than 1.5 million in two days.
Gad, who previously starred in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Frozen, took to Twitter on Thursday to write, ‘Imagine being so broken and pathetic in life that your chief concern is the skin color of… a make-believe singing mermaid.’
Disney has made numerous steps towards becoming more comprehensive recently – it included a gay kiss between two female characters in the movie Lightyear, and casting Halley as a black Ariel in its upcoming live-action version of the beloved film.
The 22-year-old actress commented on the backlash when she told Variety her grandparents offered her words of encouragement and reminded her how important her role in the film would be.
‘It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, 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,”‘ the Atlanta native told the outlet.
Bailey said seeing the iconic Ariel character as a person of color when she grew up would have positively impacted her self-esteem.
‘What that would have done for me, how that would have changed my confidence, my belief in myself, everything,’ the Grown-ish star said. ‘Things that seem so small to everyone else, it’s so big to us.’
Many online attacks aimed at Disney have been tinged with racism over the decision to cast a black woman as the fictional character, who has largely been portrayed as white in previous pop culture offerings, including Disney’s popular 1989 cartoon.
One Twitter user said: ‘If Disney wants more diversity, they should have create another character… Before respecting all the other ethnicities and cultures， shouldn’t they at least be respectful to the origin ??? #notmyariel.’
While others said ‘race swapping is not okay’ and claimed the movie was ‘a waste of money.’
Disney has taken tremendous effort to become more inclusive – changing park policy to stop staff from using gendered greetings, implementing an anti-racism training course for employees, giving old characters progressive makeovers, and removing offensive imagery from rides and movies – however, some people feel that the company has gone too far in its woke changes.
One of those people is billionaire investor Nelson Peltz, who recently declared war on the company’s ‘excessive spending and mismanagement.’
And while many have praised the company for its change of direction, the question has lingered in recent months if they have taken it too far with the changes it has implemented recently – from dressing Minnie Mouse in a pantsuit to slapping a racism warning before their old movies.
In January 2022, Disney debuted a ‘woke’ new look for Minnie Mouse, which saw the beloved character abandoning her signature red polka-dot dress in favor of a ‘progressive’ blue pantsuit designed by Stella McCartney.
However, the move was met with uproar online, and within minutes of the tweet being posted, dozens of users began voicing outrage over the iconic mouse’s style change as her signature red and white dress had become a staple for the character.