A live showing of "The Little Mermaid" on ABC was recently announced, with Auli'i Cravalho, known for voicing Moana, cast as Ariel. Cravalho's casting has garnered a mainly positive response, in contrast to the backlash received by Halle Bailey's casting in the live-action version of "The Little Mermaid." Some have even stated that they would prefer Cravalho over Bailey for the live-action film.
It's certainly disappointing to see so many people praise Auli'i Cravalho at the expense of Halle Bailey. Both women are talented in their own right and can offer their own unique interpretations of the character. Furthermore, much of the backlash against Halle Bailey was fueled by the argument that Halle Bailey looks nothing like the original animated Ariel and that Ariel should be white. It's hypocritical to turn around and say Auli'i Cravalho is a better fit when the same arguments against Halle Bailey's casting could be applied to her. In case anyone forgot, Auli'i Cravalho is of Polynesian descent, making her a person of color as well and not white. She's not Danish, for those who tried to argue that Halle Bailey can't play Ariel because "The Little Mermaid" is a Danish story, and she doesn't exactly look like the animated version. So why did Cravalho's casting get a drastically different reaction?
The only answer I can think of is colorism. If it wasn't obvious before, it is now. Most of the people who argued against Halle Bailey's casting don't actually care that she's not Danish, or that she doesn't have naturally red hair, or whatever other argument they can come up with. If they cared about any of that, they would've had the same negative reaction to Auli'i Cravalho. What they really care about is that Halle Bailey is a black woman playing Ariel.
Of course, this isn't meant to take away from Cravalho either: Polynesians are very much underrepresented, and Cravalho's casting should absolutely be celebrated. However, I would also like to encourage those who praised Cravalho but responded negatively to Halle Bailey to really take a look at why they feel the way they do and why they might prefer Cravalho over Bailey. Both Auli'i Cravalho and Halle Bailey deserve to be given a chance, and both women deserve the opportunity to play Ariel, regardless of appearance and race.