I feel it’s well known that I consider myself a moderate to aggressive cinephile. Try as I might, I was never particularly “sporty.” The only sport I ever really enjoyed participating in was competitive swimming, which until Michael Phelps came along wasn’t anything most people paid much attention to. But movies (and music to a similar degree) were my sport. The actors were the team along with the writers and directors serving in coach-like roles. The theater was my stadium. I couldn’t tell you who played in what championship or who my favorite star athlete was, but I can vividly remember things like who I was with and where we sat in the theater when we snuck into From Dusk till Dawn in ’96… And I read movie credits like I was looking for my next fantasy league draft pick.
You can imagine then how much I love talking about upcoming features. Yet upon returning to Facebook after a month-long sabbatical, I was shocked to find so many people up-in-arms over Disney’s recent casting for the upcoming live-action adaption of The Little Mermaid. Now, I am pretty used to seeing people argue on social media (to be honest, I’m not sure what else people use it for these days), but I had no idea everyone had such strong opinions about the future of The Little Mermaid franchise!
Sometimes we become downright possessive over movies that we connected with during certain times in our lives. I understand feeling like you have earned some degree of say-so over its interpretations– but you simply haven’t. These fictional tales of whimsy, tragedy, love, and adventure are as fluid as the waters of Atlantis. If you’re upset about this now, just think how irate the Hans Christian Andersen fanboys were when they heard the money-hungry studio heads at Disney were rebranding yet another of his classic works! Believe it or not, singing crabs and slapstick seagulls were surprisingly absent from his original story.
There are also countless examples of people being proven wrong about actors being cast in iconic roles. Heath Ledger as the Joker is one of the most well-known, but it happens all the time. Sure, there are times when those actors don’t get it right and what seemed like a bad idea turns out to be just that, but we get by somehow. As Dr. Ian Malcom so notoriously stated in the 1993 dinosaur epic, Jurassic Park, “Life, uh… Finds a way.” So, maybe you don’t like the new Ariel, and you’re bitter they probably aren’t going to cast a real flounder as Ariel’s fishy best friend. And don’t get you started on how they likely won’t cast a real half-purple-woman-half-octopus as Ursula the Sea Witch! But if I can get over Jar Jar Binks making a joke about doodoo in the Star Wars prequels, I believe anyone is capable of accepting near-limitless changes to the stories they know and love. I promise it’s all going to be ok.