There’s been a lot of talk this week following the announcement of Ariel in the remake of The Little Mermaid will be played by Halle Bailey. For us, this is just one example of the positive messages that Disney is sharing with millions of people around the world through its re-makes of the old classics.
If you’ve watched the new Dumbo film, we are confident you will have left feeling emotional pangs. Of course the original was full of emotion too, but the live-action creation with practical sets brought an elevated emphasis on animal captivity and cruelty in the circus. It reminded us all very effectively of what it means to support circuses or shows that use live animals - not just elephants. This ranges from travelling circus shows to the likes of Sea World, which keeps orcas and dolphins in captivity. The good news for Brits is that Michael Gove, Environment Secretary, recently announced a new bill to ban travelling circuses from using animals (including zebras, camels and elephants) England from next year. Scotland already has a ban in place, and Wales has one in motion too. The fact that 95% of participants in a survey supported the ban shows that there is no place for animal cruelty of this sort in the twenty first century.
Going back to The Little Mermaid, the announcement that Halle Bailey is to play Ariel is huge. Whilst red heads around the world are understandably disappointed, there’s a bigger message at play here. We, women of all races, ethnicities and sizes, need to see people who look like us on our screens. It’s difficult to aspire to something we can’t see, which is why diversity means so much. It’s important to note however that Halle Bailey was cast based on ability and fit for the role - not to tick a box. We’re sure she will be an incredible Ariel, inspiring and empowering girls of colour around the world for many years to come.
Finally, one that is particularly close to our heart - The Jungle Book and its woven messages of urbanisation and deforestation. Teaching us, through our favourite story, about the impact of deforestation is powerful and resonates with children and adults alike. In addition, the encroachment of man into a natural eco-system sends a strong reminder to all of us. Most of us would disagree with it, but we often don’t go the next step to ask why it happens and what elements of our own lives contribute to deforestation. Is it the meat we eat? Or the extra space needed to grow avocados or almonds for dairy-free milk? Granted it’s a complex minefield which we will leave for another day, but we are grateful to Disney nonetheless of depicting these powerful messages of sustainability for the next generation.