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I Love Lady Gaga, but I Do NOT Want Her Playing Ursula in the Little Mermaid Remake


the little mermaid

Everyone is talking about Lady Gaga’s performance in A Star is Born, as well they should be. Gaga turns in a moving, soulful performance in the film that is sure to earn her an Oscar nomination. Naturally, all eyes are on what Gaga will do next, and there’s a new rumor floating around that she’s in talks to play Ursula in Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid. And as much as I love me some Lady Gaga, I am not on board for this.

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Sea witch, please: Ursula is a fat girl icon. In an animated world populated with slender princesses, Ursula has stood out not only as a legendary Disney villain, but as an unlikely role model for body positivity. Ursula is confident, clever, and able to run a successful business helping poor unfortunate merfolk solve their problems. She also eschews hanging out with fellow merfolk to chill with her pet eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, which is #relatable.

Ursula makes being bad look like a total blast, which is a shocking rarity for plus-size women in popular culture, who are too frequently portrayed as the butt of the joke. Ursula is not a dowdy shrew, nor is she a desperate wannabe seeking approval from King Triton and the rest of Atlantica. She marches to beat of her own drum fish, no matter how unpopular it may be. And look, not for nothing, but Ursula would never trade her voice for a pair of legs. I’m not saying that Ariel is a basic bitch, but girlfriend became completely enamored with a fork. A FORK, Y’ALL.

Over the years, Ursula has become an unlikely icon for the LGBTQ+ community as well. It’s well known that the character was based on John Waters’ muse, the outlandish drag queen Divine, and was brought to life by the music of gay lyricist Howard Ashman. If Disney is looking to go in a different direction with Ursula’s casting, going with a man in drag would be a fun apropos twist. Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), who played Sebastian the crab on Broadway, has already given us an epic rendition of “Poor Unfortunate Souls”:

Another larger than life personality who have given us a solid Ursula rendition is Rebel Wilson, who played Ursula in The Little Mermaid Live at the Hollywood Bowl. Wilson has already proven her vocal chops in the Pitch Perfect series, so this casting would be a no brainer.

Lady Gaga’s possible casting is still just a rumor, as the live-action adaptation has been slow to take shape. Rob Marshall (Chicago) is attached to direct the film, and Zendaya is rumored to be circling the role of Ariel, but no official announcements have been made. The film will feature the classic songs from the animated movie, as well as new music from Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Who do you think should play Ursula? Are you into Gaga or are you hoping for someone else?

the little mermaid

(via The DisInsider, image: Disney)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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