Queervision: The Little Mermaid (Disney)

Nothing is sacred here at Ars Marginal. Not even your childhood. This Queervision post takes on the modern world’s great mythmaker. That’s right, we’re queering Walt Disney movies. Not Disney movies with flesh-and-blood actors. I’m talking about the super kid-friendly stuff, those animated features complete with animals that sing and dance and shit.

Like many people in my generation, I grew up on Disney movies. And, naturally, they have completely warped my expectations of life and relationships. Well, there was that whole thing where I identified more with princes than the princesses (mostly because what the princes and I had in common was wanting to get with the princess). And if you want to know the root of my thing for nerdy, skinny, pale-skinned brunettes with big brown eyes – look no further than that fucking Belle.

Disney, that bastion of feminist liberation (that’s sarcasm, by the way), thought they were teaching kids Good Morals and Valuable Life Lessons when they made these fractured fairy tales stripped of sex and blood and death. As a result, we get these bland narratives that tell women that their highest aim in life is to make themselves into prizes for rich White men to possess by being as dull, vapid, and passive as (in-)humanly possible, whereupon she shall be rewarded by marrying a man and having penis-in-vagina sex beneath the covers with the lights out just enough times to make some babies (at least an heir and a spare). Fortunately for us, if the “sex clouds” in The Lion King are anything to go by, no matter how much you try to suppress it, it always comes out.

For example: The Little Mermaid. No, not the priest with the boner (although I have to wonder who that boner is for). I’m talking about Sebastian the crab and Scuttle the seagull.

Put them in human bodies, and they’re walking stereotypes of gay men. Take Sebastian. He’s the artsy fartsy one, making musical theatre on Broadway. For real, “Under the Sea” has everything a musical has except fucking jazz hands – and that’s because fish have fins (Would that make it jazz fins?)! He’s got a bit of sass to him too, just the way Hollywood likes it. And like the Gay Best Friend of any romantic comedy worth its salt, Sebastian is all too happy to help his homegirl Ariel out and hook her up with Prince Eric.

Don’t get me started on Scuttle. He’s the one into fashion and shit. The first time we see him, he styles his damn hair! Hell, when Ariel first gets her legs, he’s appraising her fashion sense. He has her modeling that sail like she’s wearing haute couture. If you think about it, Scuttle acts like a feathered Tim Gunn. Like Sebastian, he’s also most interested in matchmaking with Ariel than in getting any himself.

If you watch how they act around each other, they sure do have a sort of Odd Couple thing going on, don’t they? Squint a little bit, and you see Sebastian as Felix and Scuttle as Oscar.

So here’s my queer take on their relationship.

Sebastian and Scuttle are a gay couple trying to work out the intricacies of a long-distance relationship. Sebastian lives underwater; Scuttle lives on land. Some say it’s doomed, but hey, if Ariel can make it happen why not give it a shot? They’re trying to make time for each other, but it’s hard because Sebastian’s boss is a tyrannical asshole who won’t cut him a break, even making him do shit that’s ten miles off his job description. For his part, Scuttle is a struggling fashion designer who can’t make the trip that often, which again puts the burden on Sebastian to go out of his way for their hook-ups. The differences in their professional roles and the distance apart put a serious strain on their relationship, but having gone through some shit together, they’re reluctant to part ways.

Can they make this work? Will Sebastian and Scuttle stay together? We’ll have to get a more gay-friendly Disney to find out.

6 thoughts on “Queervision: The Little Mermaid (Disney)

  1. “Put them in human bodies, and they’re walking stereotypes of gay men. Take Sebastian. He’s the artsy fartsy one, making musical theatre on Broadway. For real, “Under the Sea” has everything a musical has except fucking jazz hands – and that’s because fish have fins (Would that make it jazz fins?)! He’s got a bit of sass to him too, just the way Hollywood likes it. And like the Gay Best Friend of any romantic comedy worth its salt, Sebastian is all too happy to help his homegirl Ariel out and hook her up with Prince Eric.
    Don’t get me started on Scuttle. He’s the one into fashion and shit. The first time we see him, he styles his damn hair! Hell, when Ariel first gets her legs, he’s appraising her fashion sense. He has her modeling that sail like she’s wearing haute couture. If you think about it, Scuttle acts like a feathered Tim Gunn. Like Sebastian, he’s also most interested in matchmaking with Ariel than in getting any himself.”

    Gawd damn it. You just gave me something else to rage about.

    “And if you want to know the root of my thing for nerdy, skinny, pale-skinned brunettes with big brown eyes – look no further than that fucking Belle.”

    You and bruenettes. SMH.

    Of course we both know I’m in no position to talk. Since He-Man is most likely the source of my weakness for blonds.

    And of the Disney princesses, I loved Belle (along with Mulan and Tiana). It was refreshing to see a character who actually had substance and showcased to kids that you can be cool and be into books.

    Now that I think about it, I could see You Know Who playing Belle in a Live Action Version.

  2. You nailed it with Scuttle! LOL at the Tim Gunn reference. I agree with Neo that I can see YKW as Belle as well–though I want to see it on Broadway (the Disney version, at least). Can she sing?

  3. Wow, I like reading analyses of Disney movies, but it’s rare that one actually brings up something I hadn’t thought of. Sebastian as a homo is obvious (and the racial undertones to his character are another post entirely), but I had never thought about Scuttle!

    And your last two paragraphs are pure gold. Nice post.

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