The makeup artist for The Little Mermaid is fighting back against some of the criticism about Ursula’s look. Multiple members of the LGBTQ+ community have been speaking out against the design, citing that it appears to have taken inspiration from the famous drag queen Divine, who also influenced the character’s original animated appearance. As the makeup artist for the live-action The Little Mermaid is not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, there has been a notable backlash against the artist.
In an interview with Insider, The Little Mermaid artist Peter Smith King gave his response to the criticism. Check out his quote below:
“I find that very offensive. Why can’t I do as good a job as a queer makeup artist? That’s ridiculous. That’s trying to claim it and that’s fine, if that’s what they wanna do, but don’t put people down because they’re not what they want it to be. I personally don’t get it. Yes, I’m very old now, so that’s fine, I get that too, but, you know, a makeup artist or makeup designer could design makeup, they don’t have to have an attachment to the nature of what they’re doing. [Melissa McCarthy and I] discussed everything. I mean, we both laughed about how much we love drag queens and drag makeup and stuff. But it wasn’t based on any drag acts at all.”
While Insider reports that the original Ursula was based on Divine, King denies any connection between drag and this new version of Ursula. The makeup artist has 42 years of experience and believes he was perfectly qualified to design for The Little Mermaid.
The Backlash Against The Little Mermaid Explained
The Little Mermaid has been widely praised for its changes to Ursula, making this makeup controversy stand out as a blot against one of the brightest spots in the movie. Yet it isn’t the only controversial element of the project. The Little Mermaid has been facing substantial criticism since it was first announced for various reasons, some more justified than others.
After all, 1989’s The Little Mermaid is a Disney classic, and, like many other live-action Disney remakes, there appeared to be no reason to remake the film at all. While that argument has been ongoing ever since the Disney remakes were announced, there has been another, more nefarious critique building for years. Since Halle Bailey was first cast as Ariel, there was a campaign of racist backlash building against her, which ignited a barrage of vitriol against the project. As Bailey proved to be a widely acclaimed Ariel, she easily proved the attacks were completely unfounded all along.
The backlash against The Little Mermaid has had some effect. The live-action The Little Mermaid has a Rotten Tomatoes score of only 67 percent at the time of writing, which is a poor showing for a Disney movie. Still, it has received a 95 percent score among audiences and seems to be poised for success at the box office. The Little Mermaid has been facing massive backlash from the beginning, but it has been swimming on toward success all the same.