Brow Beat

The “Honest Trailer” for The Little Mermaid Skewers Its Hilariously Retrograde Message

Disney’s The Little Mermaid was a deeply influential movie for many children of the 1980s. Odds are good that if you stop a twentysomething woman on the street, she’ll be able to sing you the opening lines of “Part of Your World” on command. But the influence it had was, arguably, not a great one (and not just because it sexualized a creature who can’t have sex). As a role model, Ariel—who gives up her voice, her family, and her friends to be with a man she barely knows—leaves a lot to be desired.

The folks behind Honest Trailers, who have been on a roll lately, have come out with their take on the 1989 animated film, which they describe as “a fantastical romance where love conquers all—if by love you mean acting like a clueless mute brat so an older guy will make out with you.” While I will object to the video’s characterization of Ursula’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls” as “boring” (I’d argue that Pat Carroll’s turn as the devious sea witch is one of the great voice characterizations of all time), its take on the movie’s gender politics is spot-on.