You’re Watching the LITTLE MERMAID Wrong – Secret Meaning EXPLAINED

In recent years, the 1989 version of Disney’s the Little Mermaid has come under scrutiny for being "anti-feminist." In this video we break down the real meaning of the Little Mermaid, and show how the central conflict is not between Ariel and Ursula–it’s between Ariel and her dad.

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Written by Bevin
Hosted by Ryan Arey (
Edited by Harriet Lengel-Enright and Randolf Nombrado

#LittleMermaid #SecretMeaning

The live action Little Mermaid movie does its best to honor the original film–but also, the film goes out of its way to change one important aspect of the original: Ariel. (clip)

NO, put your dinglehoppers down. I’m not talking about the race of the actress. I’m talking about the plethora of articles covering the production team and star’s statements on modernizing Ariel.

Since its release in 1989, people have discussed whether or not Ariel is progressive, feminist, and a good role model for young kids. Mindy Kaling has called the film problematic, and Kiera Knightly doesn’t let her daughter watch it. (clip)

In an interview with The Face, Halle Bailey, the actress playing Ariel in the upcoming film, states,

“What’s beautiful about this version of The Little Mermaid is that it’s a lot more modern…When we saw it, when we were younger, she gave up everything for the guy. But I don’t think [that] reflects modern women today. So [now] it’s more about Ariel finding freedom for herself because of this world she’s obsessed with.” Prince Eric, the handsome shipwrecked human for whom she gives it all up, ​“is a cherry on top. But it’s not all about him.”

She’s not alone. There are dozens of comments on social platforms claiming that Ariel gives up her voice for a man. I have a question; did we all watch the same movie? Ariel didn’t give up everything for a man. In fact, her decision was never about Eric, to begin with. (clip)

That’s right, and I’m about to break down just why you’ve been watching Disney’s 1989 The Little Mermaid wrong this entire time. (clip)

The biggest misconception floating around is that the animated film’s plot goes like this; Ariel is a princess living in Atlantica whose dad forbids the merfolk from interacting with the human race. One night she encounters a ship with humans, most notably a prince, and instantly falls in love. When a hurricane hits, she rescues Prince Eric from drowning and vows to become part of his world. (clip)

The sea witch, Ursula, steps in when her father destroys the statue of her love, granting her wish to be with Eric. She has three days to get the prince to fall in love, or she turns back into a mermaid. True love ends up triumphing. The king gives her legs, and they get married—the end.

Doug: Isn’t that what happens?

It is if you’re just looking at the B-plot of the script.

Doug: The what?

The subplot, not the main plot. (clip)

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