“Disney’s Little Mermaid or the story of an algorithmic scandal”

“Those who criticize the infidelity to the original narrative will be reminded that the ending of the 1989 Disney cartoon is much happier than Andersen’s original work.” Frederic Monceau

FIGAROVOX/CHRONICLE – A scientist changed the heroine’s skin color in the trailer for the 2023 film, causing quite a stir. Our columnist relativizes the expectation raised by this matter. We better worry about the harmful effects of fake content on society, he pleads.

Aurélie Jean is a doctor of science and a businesswoman. She has notably published On the other side of the Machine. A scientist’s journey to the land of algorithms (2019) and Do algorithms make the law? (2021), published by L’Observatoire.


Thirty-three years of the successful animated feature film The little MermaidDisney Studios will launch in May 2023 its film adaptation with actress Halle Bailey as Ariel. Since the announcement and the first images of the film, the reactions have been numerous. Among them, some criticize the choice of the actress, and in particular her skin color, to play the white woman that we have historically had in mind. The matter does not end there.

An artificial intelligence scientist had fun changing the face of the actress, replacing her with a white woman with light eyes using a video processing algorithm. The little Mermaid then he gets swept up in an algorithmic scandal that seems to slip away…

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