A few months ago, I made a mistake. I let my child watch The Little Mermaid. While we generally only watch a half an hour of TV on a rainy day if ever, I was working on a deadline and I made this one error that I’ll most likely regret for a long time to come.
This seemingly innocent Disney film has made its way into my daughter’s mind and doesn’t seem to be checking out anytime soon. The first time my 2-year-old hollered “I’m not a child!” I thought it was weird and mildly hilarious. It wasn’t until later I realized her mangled rebellion was in fact from The Little Mermaid. It hadn’t occurred to me that this movie was too mature for her, as I knew plenty of people who allowed their 2- or 3-year-olds to watch Disney movies on a weekly or even daily basis.
“What negative impact could a one-time viewing really have?” I thought. If I had only known that my child would start screaming lines from it at me — lines that she heard Ariel say — and think it was a legit, I would have thought better of it. Perhaps I had too much trust in the Disney name.
Not only do I have to play the part of Prince Eric or King Triton until I physically cannot make myself say the words “I forbid you to go to the surface again” under very specific instruction anymore, but thanks to well-meaning grandparents snatching up every piece of mermaid merchandise that Target has to offer, Ariel has now inserted herself into every waking moment of our lives. She comes in the tub, the bed, to the pool and the beach. At this point, I am so effing over you, Ariel, I could scream.
But it’s not even the rate at which we are playing The Little Mermaid games that drive me nuts. It’s that I’m so freaking uncomfortable with what we are playing. First off, why does Ariel have to be a princess? Why can’t she just be a regular little mermaid who wants to grow legs and walk the earth and do really cool things because she’s curious? Secondly, the premise of the story is pretty whack. She morphs herself into a human at the age of 16 to go be with some dude she saw on a boat? And why at the end of the movie is her father like, “yeah okay, you can marry him now. I’m over it”?