Josh Gad condemns ‘pathetic’ trolls over The Little Mermaid trailer backlash

Josh Gad has condemned the racist backlash against the forthcoming live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid.

The Disney-produced film stars Halle Bailey in the lead role of Ariel.

The 22-year-old actor’s casting in the role prompted an influx of online trolling, with the first teaser trailer receiving over 3 million “dislikes” on YouTube.

Gad, who has starred in Disney’s Frozen and the live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, responded to the backlash on Twitter.

“Imagine being so broken and pathetic in life that your chief concern is the skin colour of… a make-believe singing mermaid,” he wrote.

Bailey herself has spoken out about the backlash in the past, recalling the words of encouragement that her grandparents were able to offer her.

“It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,’” she said.

“I want the little girl in me and the little girls just like me who are watching to know that they’re special, and that they should be a princess in every single way,” she added.

Halle Bailey as Ariel in ‘The Little Mermaid' (Disney)
Halle Bailey as Ariel in ‘The Little Mermaid' (Disney)

In Beauty and the Beast, Gad played LeFou, a character who has what was billed as Disney’s first “gay moment” – due to a two-second dance his character shares with another man.

Speaking to The Independent last year, Gad said: “We didn’t go far enough to warrant accolades. We didn’t go far enough to say, ‘Look how brave we are.’ My regret in what happened is that it became ‘Disney’s first explicitly gay moment’ and it was never intended to be that.

“If we’re going to pat ourselves on the back, then damn it we should have gone further with that. Everybody deserves an opportunity to see themselves on screen, and I don’t think we’ve done enough – and I certainly haven’t done enough to do that.”

The Little Mermaid is released in cinemas on 26 May.