Beware little mermaid
She is a father’s worst nightmare when you have a girl
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
Little girls have long loved the idea of mermaids, but one dad is rallying against his daughter turning out like Ariel.