WALT DYSNEY —In the wake of Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid,” the film’s makeup artist has addressed the backlash surrounding the portrayal of the iconic character Ursula.
Melissa McCarthy plays the nefarious sea witch in the 2023 adaptation, a role originally inspired by Baltimore drag queen Divine. Critics argue that the studio missed an opportunity to hire a member of the LGBTQ+ community to style the beloved character.
However, Peter Smith King, the British hair and makeup artist responsible for Ursula’s look, dismissed the criticism as “ridiculous” in a recent interview with Insider. He defended his work, stating, “Why can’t I do as good a job as a queer makeup artist?”
King found the notion of needing a specific identity to capture the essence of a character offensive. He emphasized that individuals should not be put down for not conforming to others’ expectations.
Regarding his approach to Ursula’s look, King denied drawing inspiration from the original 1989 animated version. Despite the striking resemblance between McCarthy’s appearance in the film and the animated character’s distinct features, King stated, “No, no. It was me. I didn’t really draw on anything.”
While King admitted to sharing an appreciation for drag queens and drag makeup with McCarthy, he made it clear that his vision for Ursula was not based on Divine or any specific drag acts. He expressed his belief that makeup artists or designers can create makeup without needing a personal attachment to the subject matter.
The criticism of King’s work sparked a discussion about the importance of hiring up-and-coming queer artists who possess a deep understanding of the present and a vision for the future.
Some argued that a drag queen should have been hired for Ursula’s makeup, citing King’s work as lacking the essence of contemporary drag.
“Hate to be shady but they should have hired a drag queen,” tweeted by a netizen.
“This make up looks like me 13 years ago, when I was drunk before pride one year.”
However, McCarthy, in her interview with Deadline at the Los Angeles premiere, highlighted her admiration for drag performers and expressed her desire to make every incredible drag queen, including Divine, proud with her portrayal of Ursula.
As debates continue surrounding the representation and styling choices in “The Little Mermaid,” it remains evident that the makeup artist’s response to the criticism has ignited conversations about the intersection of identity, artistry, and the evolving nature of character representation. – WhatALife!/Jayve