Engineer With Doctorate In Computer Vision Creates AI To Race-swap ‘The Little Mermaid’ Upon Release, Fueling Further Controversy Around The Remake


Last Friday, the Disney YouTube channel uploaded the first teaser trailer for its remake of The Little Mermaid, featuring Halle Bailey as Ariel. Following the controversy and debate that’s swirled around the film for over a year between supporters and detractors of the casting decision, one man attempted to nullify the contention, which wound up only further fueling the flame war.

Three days since the trailer dropped, the Islamic meme maker Dr. Walid Ph.D., also known as @TenGazillionIQ on Twitter, posted a short video showing three seconds of the trailer with an AI recreation that made Bailey’s Ariel appear to be a white ginger side-by-side with the original and the claim that his AI could do it for the entire movie upon release in 24 hours.

This video and the claim naturally evoked an intense response on Twitter, with many of the original threads being deleted within hours despite several still being active.

As expected, the concept of race-swapping the live-action Ariel depiction was not warmly received by many, and it was swiftly attacked online, as well by people who were making memes of the movie following the trailer.

As a continuation of the original controversy that started with the movie casting choice back in July 2019, more memes that perpetuated racial stereotypes but through the lens of Ariel and The Little Mermaid were posted, and this AI was considered to be the final extension of this thought process by some, with many calling the execution and AI as a whole racially divisive.

During the social media fallout and in-fighting, there was one Twitter user who perhaps saw a potential use for such technology. While it’s apparent that AI in this instance is being used in a controversial manner, the further advancement of the technology was prospective to some for future creative endeavors, especially memes.

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