Between catchy songs, funny characters, and a beautiful story inspired by the original Hans Christian Andersen novel and the 1989 film, the 2023 live-action of The Little Mermaid is finally here.
Besides reminding me of my childhood and feeling a deep nostalgia for my excitement when I was a kid when watching Disney movies, during the film I started noticing some valuable messages hidden in the storyline of the iconic story of the little girl who wanted to be part of the human’s world.
Here are 7 valuable lessons The Little Mermaid has to teach us about society, delving into themes of cultural barriers, migration, social inclusion, and the longing for acceptance:
1. Not being able to speak the same language doesn’t mean you can’t connect with others.
True connections are not solely dependent on words.
Ariel didn’t have her voice to explain everything about her, where she comes from or even say her own name. And Prince Eric didn’t know yet that she was the girl who saved him. Although, both connected and got interested in each other without the need of using the same language.
“Most people around here use too many words and have nothing to say”Prince Eric
Non-verbal communication, empathy, shared experience, authenticity, shared values and interests, and understanding, are also important aspects of human relationships. We don’t depend on words when it comes to creating meaningful connections.
2. You need people who support you through change.
Ariel’s friends provide unwavering support throughout her journey, teaching us the value of having a solid support system.
Scuttle always solved Ariel’s doubts about humans, and although sometimes his knowledge was a bit mistaken, his intentions were always good. He gave his best to support Ariel outside the sea, making himself key on her journey.
Sebastian always looked after Ariel’s safety and was always there, under and above the sea, giving his advice, even through songs, but letting her be what she wanted to be.
“I hope you appreciate what I go through for you, young lady!”Sebastian
Flounder was her buddy joining her on each adventure and even some crazy ideas Ariel had. And even when he couldn’t leave the water, he was giving his best to help Ariel break the spell by kissing Prince Eric.
Friendships in The Little Mermaid are an example of the value of companionship, encouragement, and loyalty.
3. What seems ordinary to you, can be wonderful for others.
The Little Mermaid also highlights that we tend to underestimate the wonder and fascination that certain elements of our culture can hold for others.
“I wanna see them dancin’, walking around on those— What do you call them? Oh, feet!”Ariel
Ariel’s desire to experience life as a human highlights the enchantment that can be found in the seemingly ordinary. Her fascination with something as natural for humans as feet serves as a reminder of the magic that can be found in everyday experiences. And her collection of human artefacts shows how easily we overlook the value of the things.
4. Differences should not divide us.
The Little Mermaid is also a love story. One that makes clear that despite the differences, a true connection can transcend contrasting worlds.
“He’s human, you are a mermaid!”King Triton
“That doesn’t make us enemies“Ariel
If you see opportunities instead of threats on what makes people different, you open the door to exchange, a whole new world of opportunities for learning, growing, and discovering. And who knows what could happen? You might find the love of your life, or a lifetime friend, and travel around the world with them, as Ariel did.
5. Don’t judge others without knowing their reality.
The Little Mermaid also has some jokes that could make you reflect. Like Scuttle’s misinterpretation of human customs. This one reminds us not to judge others or assume without understanding.
“Oh, they’re not so bad unless you’re a coconut. They hate coconuts.”Scuttle
If Scuttle misunderstood breaking coconuts because they’re delicious with hitting them because we hate them, imagine all the things you could be wrong about by assuming other people’s realities. Instead, we should seek knowledge, understanding, and refrain from judgment, fostering empathy and compassion.
6. Cultivate an open mind and embrace learning.
If we don’t let differences divide us and don’t assume other people’s reality, what should we do?
Well, in The Little Mermaid, we have a good example to explain it. King Triton’s initial fear and lack of understanding illustrate the importance of cultivating an open mind. By being receptive to new ideas and perspectives, we can foster personal growth, avoid unnecessary conflicts, and embrace the beauty of diversity.
Once King Triton left his differences with the human world behind and understood that one bad action doesn’t reflect the values of an entire community, he was finally able to support, empathise and understand her daughter, who was needing that since the start of the movie.
“You shouldn’t have to give up your voice to be heard.“King Triton
7. Discover the beauty in different cultures and environments.
The Little Mermaid showcases the fact that every culture holds its own unique beauty. Ariel’s enormous admiration for a world and culture that is not the one she grew up with, encourages us to embrace and celebrate the diversity of cultures around us.
“I just don’t see how a world that makes such wonderful things could be bad.”Ariel
But let’s not forget that under the sea, you can find wonderful things too. Our own cultures and communities have a giant value too, and even though we dive into new ones, we shouldn’t forget to appreciate and honor what we already have.
“Just look at the world around you. Right here on the ocean floor. Such wonderful things surround you. What more is you lookin’ for?”Sebastian
Inspiring, isn’t it?
The Little Mermaid holds valuable lessons that resonate deeply in our society about the power of connection, appreciating cultures, the importance of friendship, and more. It’s a beautiful story that encourages us to approach life with curiosity, empathy, and an open heart, enabling personal growth and enriching our relationships with others.
Discover more about movies, cultures, languages and moving abroad with articles like Spanish-language movies – What to watch? or 3 Important Things I Wish I Knew About Living Abroad.
Did you get inspired? You can join SPEAK and be part of an amazing community full of people from diverse cultures ready to exchange languages, values, customs, and cultures with you.
You can do many things: be a buddy and share your culture, join a language group and learn a new language or participate in cultural events to interact with people from all over the world!