‘The Little Mermaid’ plot-hole that turned our universe inside out
This week, a Disney fan unleashed a major plot-hole in The Little Mermaid, and we’re still processing it.
Just in case you need a rehash of the movie: Ariel’s a mermaid with an awesome voice (the kind a guy like Prince Eric is obsessed with). Speaking of obsessions, Ariel is so determined to try life on land she trades her voice for legs. The deal is she needs to kiss Prince Eric within three days or lose her freedom completely. Only hitch? Ariel doesn’t have a voice to tell the prince that she’s the mer-lady he’s been obsessing over. So lots of romantic planning, lobster-singing and fish-fountaining happens in an effort to make that kiss happen.
I mean, it’s pretty much the singular conflict in the story.
Enter TLM fan Mary Falls who pointed out a flaw in the plot on Facebook and now everyone’s freaking out. As Falls notes, there was actually a glaringly simple way Ariel could have convinced the Prince Eric to kiss her: Write him a note.
Her Facebook post begins, “After 26 years, today I stumbled on a plot hole in The Little Mermaid that will haunt me for the rest of my days.” From there she questions why Ariel didn’t just put pen to paper if she didn’t have a voice. Although Falls initially worried that perhaps Ariel didn’t think of this option because she was illiterate, this intrepid Disney detective put that concern to rest, too.
“I’ll be damned, she signed that contract with Ursula,” wrote Falls. “So, Ariel is completely flipping literate and, in point of fact, has excellent penmanship! I had to give her the benefit of the doubt and think, well maybe she didn’t want to explain herself ’cause she was trying to be a cool water fish about the whole deal and take her game to the next level. Except she tried to explain herself on the beach while dressed in a sail and miming like an adorable lunatic.”
As Falls, points out, Ariel could have solved her problems pretty quickly with a pad and pen. So why didn’t anyone think of that? Actually at least one person did.
The Huffington Post, which originally reported on Falls’ realization, reached out to former Disney animator Tom Sito, who recalled this:
Wow. Next time animators are faced with that question, they should consider one Facebook commenter’s rationale for the plot-hole. “She can only use items that Flounder [ed note: or Scuttle] introduced to her,” argues Denise Schumaker on Falls’ Facebook post. “She doesn’t know humans also write. Nobody on land offered her a land pen.” OK, good counterpoint. Remember, Ariel thinks this fork is a dinglehopper. But wait, there’s more. Schumaker goes on to raise ANOTHER Disney plot problem that needs solving. “Now can we talk about how the Beast has been under a spell for 10 years that ends when he turns 21, yet his ripped portrait is of an adult man, not a 10-year-old boy?” Oh Disney, how you mess with our minds in amazing ways.