What is the web-o-sphere angry about this week? From the casting of a black actress as a fictional mermaid to another Taylor Swift feud, here’s everything you need to know:
Disney casts Halle Bailey in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid
THE STORY: Halle Bailey, one half of musical duo Chloe x Halle, was just announced as the new Ariel in Disney’s upcoming live action remake of the popular fairytale and people are upset—because she’s black. Some of them are going as far as “using science” to prove that she couldn’t possibly be black because she lives so far under the ocean that she wouldn’t have enough sun exposure to get darker skin. #NotMyAriel began trending on Twitter, not just because of the racist objections, but because of the many hilarious memes and tweets users fired back in defense of Bailey’s casting.
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE: This marks the first time Disney has cast a woman of colour in the role of a traditionally white princess character for one of its new remakes (the last time was Brandy as Cinderella in 1997), and is a huge win for people who never get to see themselves represented in children’s fairytales, whose characters tend to be overwhelmingly white. The fact that this furor is happening over a character that’s not even human—she’s an entirely fictional mermaid—makes the pushback even more absurd.
Ed Sheeran gets pulled into the Taylor Swift-Scooter Braun Feud
THE STORY: Earlier this week Taylor Swift shared a lengthy and emotional post on Tumblr explaining that the music from her last six albums—from her time at record label Big Machine Records—would now be owned by Scooter Braun, a music industry executive at whose hands she says she suffered “incessant, manipulative bullying.” A whole host of celebs jumped in with their own two cents on the matter, from Justin Bieber to Demi Lovato to Cara Delevingne. But for some reason the person most of the internet got mad at was… Ed Sheeran.
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE: Though he has not yet said anything publicly, Sheeran did respond to an Instagram comment on his account, saying “I have been speaking directly to her, like I always do,” which, fine. Instead of pointing fingers at all the secondary characters in this very public feud though, perhaps Swift fans should spend some more time actually looking into the specifics of the whole messy situation and Swift’s role in it as more than just a person wronged. Of course she has every reason to be upset that someone else legally owns the rights to (and will profit off) the music she spent years making but as Vox notes, it’s not uncommon for record companies to own an artist’s master recordings. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that a lot of this feud seems to be fuelled more by, ahem, bad blood than righteous indignation. In a lengthy piece on Complex.com titled “Taylor Swift Has a Long History of Omitting Facts to Fit Her Own Narrative,” the writer expounds on Swift’s tendency to play the victim and twist facts to suit her image. [For those looking to follow every step of this feud, journalist Yashar Ali has a handy thread going on Twitter.]
An animated sex scene in Euphoria
THE STORY: The new HBO show starring Zendaya and Storm Reid has been raising eyebrows since episode 1, when 30 penises were featured in a single scene. The latest to get the internet buzzing is an animated scene featuring the likenesses of Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson of One Direction. A character’s narrative arc on the show involves her penchant for creating One Direction fan fiction, illustrated in the show by a sex scene between Styles and Tomlinson. Fans were peeved, and Tomlinson himself took to Twitter to say: “I can categorically say that I was not contacted nor did I approve it.”
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE: Euphoria is a show that’s fully committed to portraying the dark, messy lives of teenagers, and what’s a more realistic reflection of teens’ weird obsessions than their love for explicit, detailed, NSFW fanfic? Throughout their time as bandmates in One Direction, Styles and Tomlinson were often “shipped” together in fanfic about them secretly being in a gay relationship. Larry Stylinson, a portmanteau of their names, became “a widespread conspiracy theory as One Direction grew more popular,” explains Vulture, with fans “overanalyz[ing] every single interaction between the two men.” Apparently it got to the point where Tomlinson said that his relationship with Styles suffered. “It made everything, I think on both fences, a little bit more unapproachable.” So it makes sense that he would be upset to see the fanfic resurrected, but the outrage of the fans themselves is a bit mystifying, considering they’re the ones responsible for hatching the theory in the first place.