11 July 2017

Penny Newsletter - #04: The Little Mermaid is an Undeniable Failure

On Friday, I finally turned off 4:44. It hurts to not listen to it every waking moment I have free but I had to switch it up a little bit. Is it the best Jay-Z album since American Gangster? Or The Black Album? Or The Blueprint? It could be. Did it erase all the horrible things I've said about Beyonce because I thought she was painting my favorite rapper of all time as unfaithful for Lemonade's benefit? I have to say yes. What's my favorite song? Difficult to say, but I have to say "Kill Jay Z" today because of the way he handled Kanye in the best way Hov knows how. Did it inspire me to want to record new music? Of course, but that's neither here nor there. Is this Hov's Jordan in the 1998 Finals moment, again? Or even his 60 points on 50 shots moment. I don't know, but I'd be satisfied if the Jay-Z discography ended here. I'll have more thoughts when Marcus and I link up to discuss 4:44 at length on Hyphen Nation.

Song of the Moment is completely blamed on the Total Package Tour that Angel and I went to for our anniversary. I was there for Boyz II Men (more on this soon, I promise) as was Angel but she was excited about Paula Abdul as well. We could have left the show after Paula and been fine... but New Kids On The Block tore it down, there's no denying it. When a group has been together for mostly 30 years, they're going to know how to put on a show. But you have no one to blame for watching their Behind The Music special and listening to some of Face The Music this past week except yourself. You Blockhead.


The Little Mermaid is the worst. I thought this before Aaliyah was born. Some people will put over whatever number Disney feature film this is as a classic. But I won't. I won't even look at it when it's on. It's a mess.

But what about Snow White? Nah, we’re good. Sleeping Beauty? Other than her parents shunning Maleficent for no reason and getting what they deserve, no problems there. Cinderella? DID YOU NOT SEE THE HELL CINDERELLA HAD TO GO THROUGH TO GET HER PRINCE? Deserved. But me and Ariel don't see eye to eye.

I think it's because I just can't set aside my disbelief. And as someone who will watch Hot Tub Time Machine and Wild Hogs from start to finish, it's pretty easy for me to do. First of all, Ariel is ridiculously lucky. She escapes the shark. She’s never had any interaction with fire in her life and yet she fearlessly takes on a burning boat to save some dude she saw for the first time ten minutes ago (also, Prince Eric is like a 3 out of 10 on the Disney Prince scale). Then she sings this dude awake after he's swallowed all the ocean water. How does she have any clue what breathing means to humans? And everything that she does wrong leading up to the film’s culmination works out for her in the best possible way.

Now, before I go on, she might not have made the deal with Ursula if Sebastian hadn't snitched to Triton who then destroyed her grotto. But she would’ve eventually tried to make contact with Eric again. So we either get a direct cut to Triton realizing her and Eric are in love or Eric and his men kill her for a trophy. A little anti-climatic and way, way dark. Sebastian is the worst too. While Flounder is perfect in his sidekick role, Sebastian does nothing but help Ariel make all the bad decisions.

So Ariel makes the deal with Ursula, which was doomed from the start. Of course, it's super convenient to have the “Kiss The Girl” scene happen on the water, where Flotsam and Jetsam can interfere. But Ursula is a sea witch. She would have found a way to interrupt the kiss no matter what. Turning herself into Vanessa was her ace in the hole too, so Ursula was trotting that gimmick out day three regardless of what had happened to that point. Even for a 15 or 16 year old girl, Ariel can't possibly think true love is going to win over a sea witch.

I get that this is a Disney movie but I feel like this film is guilty of coming up with a cast of characters (which is completely based off of another classic Disney move of reimagining the original fairy tale, which is even more insane than this plot) and then forcing them to do a bunch of things that make no sense whatsoever. This film and Beauty and the Beast are maddening because everything happens because reasons. The rest of the Disney feature films at least get from point A to point Z safely despite the fact they're made for children. The Little Mermaid starts at point A and then turns into a child scribbling numbers and random letters and then deciding to finish with point Z.

And people don't just love The Little Mermaid, they live for this movie like it's the best film Disney has ever done. How can anyone get behind such a boring, whiny lead in Ariel? A vanilla prince who gets his one moment by taking out the big bad by stabbing her?

Seriously, Eric does nothing this entire film except pine after Ariel, then he doesn't have sense enough to close the deal with Ariel, then he gets brainwashed by Ursula disguised as Vanessa using Ariel's voice, then all of a sudden, he's able to use a sunken ship to defeat the sea witch who not only possessed Triton's trident but was also the size of a New York skyscraper in the final battle.

I'll let you read that again. They don't give Ariel the big moment of her tricking Ursula into defeat somehow. Nope, the useless, barely handsome prince saves the day. Ugh. This film is supposed to be… wait, this movie is hailed for how brave and strong Ariel's character is but she can't even beat the film's antagonist.

Back to people loving this film: I just don't get it. Ariel isn't the kind of hero this film needs. She goes through this “amazing” adventure for the love of a boy. Then she ends up right back where she started at film's end, as a mermaid pining after a human boy. But her dad then has a change of heart and gives her legs. He resolves the whole conflict nicely so Ariel and Eric can have their fairy tale ending. What about all those rules he was spouting about earlier in the film? Are humans less dangerous because Eric isn't a threat to anyone besides giant sea witches? Is he not worried about when the truth gets out and some crazy fricking human wants to cut Ariel open because she used to be a mermaid?

Angel made a point about how Ariel and Eric's differences didn't stop them from loving one another and that being another great part of the film. We're essentially talking about two different species at the end of the day though. Just because Ariel has legs doesn't mean that she and Eric won't have to work on their relationship every single day. How's that for a happy ending? Love with a little bit of constant couple's therapy. Or we go even darker and considering the time period of the film, Eric could fall out of love with Ariel, never divorce her, treat her horribly, and then have a few mistresses on the side until one of them dies. And this is a timeless classic.

The whole film is so ridiculous that any other Little Mermaid spinoff has taken place before this movie, including the tv show and the third film. I've never watched the second film which takes place after the original. But I read the plot on Wikipedia. So that happy ending that is supposed to be there in the original? How about that because Ursula's sister threatens Ariel and Eric's kid (because of course all Disney couple's must reproduce. If there's kid from Anna/Kristoff in Frozen 2, I'm walking out of the theater. Sorry Aaliyah), they have to come up with a way to protect her. Do they educate her about being half mermaid? Warn her of the danger as she grows up? Nope.

They ban her from any contact with the ocean. For 12 years. And only when it's convenient to the plot, then their kid finally interacts with the ocean. Eric and Ariel build a wall between the castle and the ocean to keep their kid away from there… and the kid still ends up in the ocean. Then the kid disappears and Ariel gets turned back into a mermaid to help find her.

I'm not kidding. The Little Mermaid really grinds my gears.

And one more thing: do you know who the best character was in the whole film? Ursula. She's the most watchable character and she's the antagonist. She's what happens if Heath Ledger is in The Dark Knight still but with George Clooney and Tommy Lee Jones. There was no part of this movie where she took an L until Eric hit her with a lucky shot. Ursula is the best. When you don't have another character that even comes close to that level of talent, you get The Little Mermaid.

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