Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tumblr reinvents the mermaid myth

All illustrations used with permission from the artists. Individual credit links in the article.

Mermaids are one of the creatures that the fantasy world can’t get enough of.  But for some inexplicable reason, Hollywood is completely failing to provide the world with a modern reimagining of the mermaid myth. Seriously, a cameo appearance in the worst Pirates of the Caribbean movie is all we’ve seen of them in recent years, while dragon fans get The Hobbit, Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. Totally unfair.

So, the Tumblr community has decided to just go ahead and solve the mermaid problem by themselves.

Last week, Tumblr user besides-itstoowarm presented a few starter suggestions for more “realistic” mermaids that didn’t fall into the Disney Princess stereotype.

"Chubby Inuit mermaids with sleek seal tails
Sleek Japanese mermaids with orange and white koi bodies
Dark, scaly mermaids with enormous white eyes so that they can hunt at the bottom of the sea
Small mermaids with spiky, poisonous lionfish bodies
Mermaids with sharp teeth and shark tails that hunt sailors for fun
Mermaids that aren’t just skinny blonde pretty girls with fish tails”

It’s no coincidence that a lot of these ideas emphasise the grotesque over the feminine and romantic. Mermaids are one of the very few monsters that are explicitly written as female, but the old legends seem pretty tired and sexist in a 21st century context. Either we’re used to seeing de-fanged, child-friendly mermaids like Disney’s Ariel, or unimaginative retellings of the old stories where mermaids start off sweet and seductive but end up drawing men down to their deaths.

Tumblr’s mermaids are frightening, unearthly, and have very little interest in chasing sailors around. [READ MORE]


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