Why are so many white people losing it over The Little Mermaid? It’s a question a lot of people are asking.
Some have posited the idea that it panders to wokeness, but wokeness isn’t a fantasy. Wokeness irritates the unwoke for an entirely different set of reasons.
Some suggest that it’s an inability to allow representation, for Black to take center stage in a Disney film that already had a white mermaid. Why make Ariel black, rather than a Cara, Grace, Marissa and Chandra et al, like Mattel did with Barbie. But that does not answer the question that bothers the bothered white people. It asks the same question by imposing a solution that might bother the bothered white people less. And if anything should be the goal of asking why bothered white folks are so bothered – appeasement isn’t it.
Fear of replacement, as in ‘replacement theory’ is one of the theories, and it’s a good one. Being white however, I know some white folks who are bothered by Black Ariel and have commented. And though these bothered white people are not bothered to a diagnosable degree like the ‘losing it’ bothered white folks on social media and in the news- these bothered white folks have no idea what replacement theory is. Having it spelled out for them and without going in to too much detail, at least for them, that ain’t it.
Some say that it’s daring to elevate a black female to the revered position white men place white women. I call it the pedestal theory. And certainly white women have been devalued less than other women, but since when, other than by their white privilege, have women actually been seen to be exalted by privileged white men to a place of enviable esteem? Oh, you too?
So what is it then? There’s only one thing I’ve seen that gets excitable white folks as excited as really excited white folks get, and that’s accountability for privilege. No reality has generated as much overt denial as the idea of white privilege when presented to bothered white folks.
But what does beautiful, enchanted Ariel have to do with privilege or accountability? Nothing. Nothing at all. But anything becoming Black threatens the bubble in which white people with white people issues want to stay living. Every time Black takes center stage and is recognized and embraced, white privilege stands threatened. Small assurances internalized as white norms becoming black norms is bothersome to bothered white people.
Black is a threat as it becomes no longer a surprise. The day is approaching, as it should, when it won’t be a thing at all. A Black president is no longer a place white privilege owns. The leading character in a Disney film of broad appeal, is no longer a hold out for white privilege, or is less of one. It’s an incremental process – even for the presidency.
The subject of privilege doesn’t bother white people who are bothered because they fear it’s true. It bothers them because they know it is. Privilege acknowledged is what threatens bothered white people. The end of privilege is what is feared.
White people with white people issues know what they are giving up when Black folks succeed where
white folks have been. Doing as well and very often much better at anything white folks have done really bothers bothered white people because it bodes the coming end of privilege.
Anything that represents the end of white differentiation threatens privilege. White people facing who we’ve been and how we got where we are – is the beginning of the end of privilege. Every day another proof that supremacy was a lie unfolds in the talent, ingenuity, innovation, beauty and contribution of brilliant exceptional Black People. Pushing others down is no longer a viable formula for elevating whiteness. And admitting that’s what’s been done is unimaginable for bothered white folks. It’s like facing the truth of exceptionalism.
Let’s face it. What is white privilege really? It’s the very first affirmative action program that ensured advantage and exclusion by preferential treatment, access and opportunity rather than an equal shot at it as did the Affirmative Action we know today. Ever see a bothered white person more bothered than a non white person benefiting from affirmative action? “Get off my white corner!”
Yes, that bothers the white folks that are bothered more than anything else in the world. Admitting advantage and losing advantage all stacked on top of a fairytale creature played by a remarkable Black actress. Black Santa has nothing on her. Well, until Denzel or Morgan plays him. Then the white shit will really hit the fan.