Since Bailey was announced as the lead role in 2019, there have been a host of negative reactions to the concept of a Black actor portraying the fictional character.
“Really, people? We’re doing this again?” Noah asked in exasperation on Thursday (15 September) night’s episode of his talk series, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
“Once again, a bunch of internet racists are upset that a fictional character is being played by a Black person,” he explained.
The South African comedian joins other celebrities, including Halle Berry, who have condemned the racist backlash.
“Honestly, I don’t know what the big deal is. You guys realise that Nemo was black, too, right? That whole movie was about a fish who can’t find his dad. I can say that ’cause my dad left, and he’s white, so who’s racist now?” the host quipped.
“This is so ridiculous,” Noah added, further joking that “of course The Little Mermaid is Black. Everyone whose name starts with ‘Little’ is Black”.
To prove his point, he listed Lil Wayne, Lil Nas X, and Lil Kim as examples. “If you heard there’s a woman named Little Mermaid, you’d just assume she’s on a track with Cardi B,” he said.
“With my wet a** flippers,” he sang, riffing on the latter’s hit song “WAP”.
“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,” Noah jested.
In a separate interview earlier this week, Bailey explained that the iconic movie means so much to her because she’s “treasured it since I was a little girl”.
The Little Mermaid is expected to release in cinemas on 26 May 2023.