Be­ware lit­tle mer­maid

She is a fa­ther’s worst night­mare when you have a girl

Life & Style Weekend - - YOU - BY Owen Jac­ques Find Owen Jac­ques Jour­nal­ist on Face­book, and on Twit­ter at @Owen­jay

ONE day my tod­dling daugh­ter will be tall. She’ll be bright and fierce and prob­a­bly de­mand­ing.

If she’s any­thing like her mother, she won’t take no for an an­swer and she’ll out-ar­gue me when I try to put my foot down.

I know that the day will come when, prob­a­bly as a pre-teen, she out­wits my me­dieval ideas about her not watch­ing raunchy mu­sic videos. She’ll mem­o­rise and idolise the su­per-sexy celebrity men and women of the fu­ture as they are (prob­a­bly) beamed di­rectly to her brain’s frontal lobe.

And she’ll copy them. They’ll be her role mod­els. And there’s al­most noth­ing I can do ex­cept re­mind my­self that it could be worse. She could grow up like Ariel from The Lit­tle Mer­maid.

Ly­ing down to watch The Lit­tle Mer­maid last week, I re­alise that she is a fa­ther’s worst night­mare. As a 16-year-old, she ticks all the clas­sic re­bel­lious boxes of want­ing a lover she can’t have and de­fy­ing her long-suf­fer­ing fa­ther’s or­ders.

Mr Mer­maid him­self King Tri­ton is a sin­gle fa­ther – although sup­ported by a king­dom of helpers – who is look­ing af­ter not just Ariel but at­tempt­ing to care for her six older sis­ters aged from 17 to 21.

Now his youngest falls in love with a hu­man, con­ve­niently for­get­ting they’re a species that con­sumes sea crea­tures – which Ariel is, by the way.

Tantrum af­ter tantrum fol­lows Tri­ton telling her, ac­cu­rately, that she is be­ing a mo­ron, un­til she ul­ti­mately turns to an evil sor­cer­ess who of­fers to give her legs for a price. That price is her voice. Oh, she’ll also be trans­formed into a polyp if she can’t get a kiss of true love in three days. This is the kind of bone-headed con­tract even a 16-year-old should know not to sign.

So she woos a hu­man prince af­ter his ship is wrecked. They fall in love en­tirely by star­ing at one an­other, as Ariel con­ve­niently for­gets she knows how to read and write. A few hur­dles later and they’re in love, but it’s too late. She is turned into an ocean-floor blob af­ter breach­ing her sea law con­tract.

Her fa­ther steps in. He sac­ri­fices him­self, and his en­tire king­dom to save her, which in turns gives enor­mous power to his neme­sis sis­ter. Ariel doesn’t apol­o­gise, de­spite be­ing the en­tire cause of ev­ery mon­strous thing that has hap­pened so far.

Evil is con­ve­niently van­quished by Ariel’s biped love in­ter­est with some de­ter­mined ship steer­ing and Tri­ton Dad is re­stored.

Dad was right all along, but his in­so­lent teen daugh­ter is so self­ish that not even his be­com­ing a slug slave is enough to give her pause.

But in the end, she re­alises she has been ridicu­lous, dan­ger­ous and that it makes no sense for her to aban­don the sea king­dom to be with land­man.

“All I wanted was for her to be happy,” Tri­ton Dad prob­a­bly says to his six daugh­ters, know­ing that he’ll never see his youngest again.

Give me a daugh­ter with at­ti­tude, who yells back at me when I tell her to “put some damn clothes on” as she heads out of the house. But don’t give me Ariel. If my daugh­ter gives up every­thing be­cause a man smiles at her, it’ll be me start­ing a new life un­der the sea.

DAN­ISH AUTHOR HANS CHRIS­TIAN AN­DER­SEN FIRST PUB­LISHED THE LIT­TLE MER­MAID IN 1837

PHOTO: AN­DREA IZZOTTI

Lit­tle girls have long loved the idea of mer­maids, but one dad is ral­ly­ing against his daugh­ter turn­ing out like Ariel.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.