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During Thursday’s episode of The Daily Show, the host showed footage of a news broadcast focusing on online complaints about the fact that the film stars a Black actress, Halle Bailey. The news footage included the report that the trailer has received 1.5 million dislikes on YouTube, which comes on the heels of castmembers from Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power addressing racist reactions to their own project.
“Really, people — we’re doing this again?” Noah responded. He then mocked the news broadcast’s mention of comments that Bailey looks “nothing like” the animated Ariel who was at the center of the 1989 Oscar-winning animated feature of the same name. “Nothing like? They both have the tail, they both have the red [hair],” Noah said.
“Once again, a bunch of Internet racists are upset that a fictional character is being played by a Black person,” he continued. “This is so ridiculous.”
After joking that the title character in Finding Nemo is Black because the movie is “about a fish who can’t find his dad,” Noah also delivered a sarcastic swipe at the plot of The Little Mermaid.
“Look, stop being ridiculous,” he said. “It’s imaginary. I hope this scandal doesn’t overshadow the rest of the movie. The Little Mermaid is a beautiful story about a young woman changing her core identity to please a man. Let’s not forget about that, people.”
On the red carpet for Disney’s D23 event Friday, where the Little Mermaid trailer was first shared, Bailey told The Hollywood Reporter that the most magical part of the experience for her was knowing that “somebody like me” is getting this opportunity. “The fact that I get to represent all of these little young Black and brown boys and girls who are to come is really special to me because I know that if I had that when I was younger, it would have changed my whole perspective on life.”
The Little Mermaid is set for release May 26, 2023.
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