Disney’s live-action version of The Little Mermaid is currently filming following a number of successful remakes from the studio’s Renaissance era. Although we’d expect the creatures Halle Bailey’s Ariel interacts with to be computer generated creatures of the sea, animal rights organization PETA is concerned about one aspect of the film and has sent out a letter to Disney with a particular request.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) penned a letter to Disney’s head of production, Sean Bailey, asking that the Little Mermaid production refrain from serving fish to its cast and crew while they film in Sardinia, Italy over the summer. As the PETA letter noted:
Disney’s The Little Mermaid got it right in 1989—fish are intelligent, emotionally complex, and playful, and they experience pain just like we do. I’m writing on behalf of the many Disney fans at PETA and animal advocates everywhere to ask that the live-action production be completely Flounder-friendly by providing only tasty, vegan, fish-free food for the cast and crew on set.
The letter written by PETA’s senior manager of animals in film and television, Lauren Thomasson, requests that The Little Mermaid adopt a vegan menu for its production. The organization shared that the easiest and most effective way humans can protect animals is through a plant-based diet, devoid of meat and dairy products. The letter went on to say this as well:
Up to 5 million fish are caught and killed every minute—far more animals than in any other industry—while more than 700,000 tons of equipment gets dumped from fishing vessels into our oceans each year. And fish aren’t the only victims—the indiscriminate industry traps, drowns, and mutilates countless turtles, dolphins, whales, seals, and birds callously accepted as ‘bycatch.’ At humans’ current pace, we could see fishless oceans within our lifetimes, but your film can help us change course.
This isn’t the first time PETA has called out Disney; in fact, earlier this year, the organization had something to say about Cruella as well. The organization looks to be taking the subject matter of The Little Mermaid as an opportunity to remind the folks over at Disney, alongside its audiences about the importance of saving the population under the sea where Ariel hails from. The 1989 movie certainly touched on topics of fish consumption during its runtime too.
For one, its audiences form attachments to its fish characters, such as Flounder and Sebastian. And in one memorable sequence, Sebastian runs from being cooked with a round of freshly caught fish for the “Les Poissons” number. The song gives us a look at what it's like to see a fish be prepared for dinner from their own eyes as the lyrics get graphic with “I cut off their heads and I pull out their bones.” From their point of view, it’s a horror movie.
As the letter notes, The Little Mermaid star Halle Bailey is already a vegan. But PETA hopes the rest of the surely massive production will follow in her footsteps (or fins) and choose to also eat plant-based diets. There has certainly been a rise in more people adopting veganism in the past few years, but reportedly the lifestyle only makes up less than one percent of people in the world.
The Little Mermaid will star Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Melissa McCarthy as Usrula, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Awkwafina as Scuttle and newcomer Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric. The movie directed by Mary Poppins Returns’ Rob Marshall has yet to receive a release date, but it’s coming closer as the production continues to shoot in Sardinia, Italy.