Live-action The Little Mermaid is bizarre when you think about it.
Disney takes public domain fairytales, strips the subtext, makes them kid-friendly, runs them through the sparkle princess car wash, and sells them movies, streams, remakes, spin-offs, merch and theme park tickets.
It’s a bunch of middle-aged people making content for pre-teen girls, which is not unusual (e.g. doll makers) but a little odd as a field.
With Sleeping Beauty they slap happy paint on a Grimm tale that’s a warning about what happens to bad kids.
With Little Mermaid they bowdlerize a Hans Christian Andersen parable about losing your virginity, to sell to pre-teens.
The diverse casting’s driven not just by the US being 40% non-Euro white now, but several other dynamics.
The tale is set on some Jamaican-ish island because Sebastian the animated crab had that bad Star Wars accent.
Disney sells princess p0rn, because kids have no autonomy, and their fantasy is power, attention and being special. So the heroine must be a princess meeting her prince. Thus there must be royals and a castle.
Colonists would be a bummer, so they must be black or brown, thus a South African-actress queen and Pakistani consort.
Making their 100th white heroine is passé, plus it would be quite obviously ethnocentric to have 10 black people backgrounded in bokeh with lighting and focus on a white couple. Thus Ariel is black.
It’s the heroine not the hero, because men are more accepting of shagging anyone attractive regardless of ethnicity. Thus the hero must be white to retain the 60% Anglo market.
They can’t use an actual Jamaican accent because Americans can’t comprehend it, so they cast an Afr-Am to speak Jamaican-ish. Much like they don’t sell India, they sell Indiarabia and Indica.
This puts Daveed Diggs in the odd position of doing a minstrel Jamaican accent for Big Mouse solely for being a black American actor, no Jamaican heritage or apparent accent expertise.
There’s a crowd of simple natives singing and dancing with the white hero in the center of a circle, easing him on his journey. It’s too egregious, or they wanted to put someone’s relative in, so they throw a desi kid into the crowd.
Reified as live action opens up all these cans of worms the animated movie didn’t. It’s a bizarre confection if you think about it. I suggest we don’t.