In yet another example of just what happens when identity politics are given any amount of leeway, a fan artist has been accused of ‘white washing’ Halle Bailey’s version of The Little Mermaid after illustrating a piece depicting the original animated version of Ariel in a scene featured exclusively in the live-action remake.
Borne from artist @KAMMI_LU’s love of both versions of the film, the piece in question sees the animated Ariel and her beloved sidekick Flounder recreating a shot from the live-action film’s performance of ‘Under the Sea’ wherein Bailey’s version of the fictional mermaid can be seen ‘landing’ on a bed of pink jelly fish.
Sharing their art to Twitter on May 30th, @KAMMI_LU proudly declared, “Really loved this moment in the [live action] movie! And [I] wanted to draw a cartoon Ariel in this image.”
Yet, despite @KAMMI_LU specifically stating that her piece was intended to pay tribute to both The Little Mermaid films – even going so far as to reply to their original tweet with the specific live-action shot they had taken inspiration from – numerous fans of the recent remake disingenuously accused the artist of racism for drawing the white Ariel in a shot exclusive to Bailey’s incarnation.
“Babes this is shady considering the hate Halle has received bc of her race/skin color playin Ariel,” @sunsetpussy__ declared. “And the original animated version and tons of fan art already have Ariel like this. It looks good but the fact that you get to be oblivious as to why this is sorta weird is telling.”
“Sorry, this just give dog whistle to me,”@FENDIWANG852 accused. “Draw og Ariel all you want but during opening week I feel like this is a choice.….cartoon has had its shine for decades now. All cause y’all refuse to draw a black princess.”
@sabilastella simply asked “girl why”.
Taking notice of the backlash, @KAMMI_LU eventually returned to her piece to elaborate that while they did “respect both Ariel’s canons,” they “really wanted to see Ariel from my childhood in this moment, so I decided to draw this”.
Unsurprisingly, this did little to quell the ourtage mounting against the artist.
Citing two complementary tweets given to the fanart that were liked by @KAMMI_LU – one from @tecalatete opining, “The original version of this scene makes Ariel look grey. The colours are much better and the [way] red hair and original colours fit are more than perfect. Fortunately art exists” and another from @Predaking29 proudly declaring, “This is my Ariel, the OG” – @lcveadore proclaimed, “People saying that we’re reaching about this being questionable when these are the type of comments that the artist is liking and there are plenty more.”
“Clearly this is not being done out of love for Halle’s Ariel and just love for animated Ariel,” they speculated.
Screencapping another tweet from @vesuchka in which they beamed, “Canon Ariel is so beautiful,” @lcveadore added, “Like who is ‘canon’ Ariel, Halle’s Ariel is canon. Why is the artist liking replies like this?”
“You know…while this drawing is cute it’s simply done in bad faith,” @Summwh0reWalk3r asserted. “Like considering you haven’t drawn Halle’s Ariel at all. you liking comments on this post about ‘my Ariel’ ‘canon Ariel’ which is weird, then took animated Ariel and put her in Halle’s scene?! Just a lil weird.”
“Like it’s giving racism but i’m not even gonna go all out and drag the artist rn,” they further stated. “Just wanted to make it clear that his post and the intention behind it whether good or not is weird af.”
After nearly three days of constant backlash, @KAMMI_LU eventually issued a statement responding to their critics – however, rather apologizing, the artist instead stood by their artistic decisions.
“Maybe I should clarify a few things!” opened the artist on June 1st. “Liking some comments, I relied on the view from the artist. In the film, the undersea world really seemed dull and gray to me, but this is not the fault of the actors, black or white, either.”
“It’s just that my eye, like an artist’s, like more saturated colors,” they explained. “I am not responsible for the double meanings that some of the comments seem to carry. In this matter I am really not quite a competent person due to my poor knowledge of English. For that I really apologize!”
“I have never intended to offend or humiliate the black community in any way,” @KAMMI_LU continued. “I have actually always positioned myself as an open artist for racial diversity (this can be seen in my OCs – black, Asians and Native Americans that I do not draw them everyday doesn’t make me a racist) that’s why I really don’t understand the negativity and targeted bullying in the replies.”
“At the same time, I respect the opinions of everyone and the fact that you may not like my art,” the artist concluded. “This is fine! But let’s respect each other and not call to hate each other because we are all people and every person is wonderful, regardless of skin color etc.”
Like before, @KAMMI_LU’s second statement was dismissed by the outrage mob, with its members continuing to level unfounded, conspiracy-level accusations of racism against the artist.
“As an artist, “I like more saturated colors” is the DUMBEST attempt at a backpedal I’ve ever heard,” self-aggrandizingly bleated @DietBlackPreMed. “You know wtf you were doing with this. Art with Black ppl can be made just as ‘saturated’ and even MORE saturated (eg: Harmonia Rosales, Kehinde Wiley, Tania Rivilis [all three black arists], etc.)”