Happy November! In continuation of the modern fairy tale series, I found this beautiful shot photographed by Annie Leibovitz and stars Julianne Moore as our Little Mermaid and Michael Phelps as another merman swimming beside her. This photo is part of a Disney campaign. Intriguingly, the little mermaid here is definitely a version thought up by Disney not Hans Christian Anderson. For starters, Disney created her red hair; the tale itself never speaks of hair color. Another difference is the fact that that she is wearing a purple bikini top, which luckily she is, but in the tale, when the little mermaid washes on shore she is naked.

An interesting change that Disney decided to make in this ad that taps into the study of culture is the addition of a merman into the picture. First of all, it adds in the element of male and female instead of a simply female driven tale. The casting of Michael Phelps as the merman shows this culture, the United States post Olympics, and its’ stress on national pride.

The little mermaid is sitting on her rock without the pearls on her tail and looking up at the top of the ocean wondering what is awaiting her above the sea. Her father’s castle can be seen in the background thus placing her as a princess in her under the sea realm.
All in all, the ad demonstrates how a classic fairy tale can be converted to a Disney film and is then again converted to a representation of that film in an ad. The cultural elements analogous to the United States are present in the form of casting (in a movie star and Olympics star). The ad presents optimistic look at “The Little Mermaid” leaving out the depressing ending!

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