My poor father can still recite most of the words to “The Little Mermaid” 20+ years later. Being young and solely responsible for a 2 year-old from about 5PM until morning, my father was relieved when he found that playing “The Little Mermaid” at night would often put my wild, growing self to sleep. That’s probably why he usually didn’t argue when I asked to watch it.
It wasn’t until I revisited the movie with some friends last year that I realized how much this movie had impacted my childhood. Yeah, it was fun spotting Mickey and Goofy in the crowd at the beginning of the movie. We had fun talking about love at first sight and the symbolism of giving up one’s voice (all of which we agreed, in theory, were probably not good things, but that didn’t deter us from having a happy movie viewing experience). It wasn’t until the scene with the chef that I found my emotions getting out of hand.
Angrier and angrier I grew. I felt the hatred in my chest, an irrational hatred for a cartoon character with a small role.
If you’re unfamiliar with the scene, the seafood loving chef is singing all about “les poissons, les poissons, how I love les poissons” as he is preparing dinner. He violently chops the heads off fish and roughly stuffs crab, with the scene escalating when he spots one of the main characters, Sebastian, and realizes he has a living crab in his kitchen, which surely needs fixed.
As a small child, this scene was obviously upsetting. I felt those emotions coming back.
How dare he eat fish? They’re alive and they talk and they’re friends with Ariel.
For the first time, I realized why I had always been disgusted with seafood. I’d refused fish as a child, and as I grew, I tried it a few times, never liking it. Now I understood that I had programmed myself as child to be thoroughly against it. It’s crazy how strongly something can affect us our whole lives without our consciously knowing it.
Today, I’ll eat shimp. That’s pretty much the only thing to come from that water that I’ll touch.
And shrimp wasn’t exactly prominently featured in The Little Mermaid.
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If you’re unfamiliar with the scene in question, I found it on YouTube. I didn’t post this, and I certainly didn’t add the captions, but it gets the job done.