06:01 GMT12 April 2021
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    The debate over The Little Mermaid plot and the story’s key figure started last year after Disney tapped an African-American actress for the main role in a new remake, but now it has apparently received a new twist in the wake of the sweeping BLM protests.

    One of Copenhagen’s main landmarks, the statue of Hans Christian Andersen's the Little Mermaid, has been vandalised, with citizens waking up on Friday to see two words - "racist fish” - written on its stone base in the Scandinavian city’s harbour.

    "We consider it vandalism and have started an investigation", a Copenhagen police spokesman said of the incident, which no one has claimed responsibility for.

    The 5.5ft (1.65m) bronze statue, erected 107 years ago, is both one of Copenhagen's most frequented attractions, annually drawing millions of tourists to it, and a regular target for vandals - it has been beheaded twice, knocked off its perch, painted, etc.

    However, this time, it is not clear what racist connotations the perpetrators discerned in the popular fairy tale and its main heroine.

    As the classic story goes, the Little Mermaid is a sea king's daughter who can’t wait to become human after she falls in love with a prince and trades her marvellous voice for human legs in a deal with a witch.

    As Ane Grum-Schwensen, researcher at the Hans Christian Andersen Centre at the University of Southern Denmark, explained, she was "having a hard time seeing what is particularly racist" about the fairy tale that the figure is taken from.

    The debate comes almost a year after a Disney live-action remake of the same-name 1989 animated film became central to a controversy as African-American actress Halle Bailey was cast for the key role.

    “It's racism. She [the mermaid] isn't a fish”, one quipped, with others pointing to the vandals’ apparently ludicrous perception of the mermaid.

    “It would appear that every statue is racist. Some people just don't deserve to have or to see nice things around them”, another blasted.

    … with many more lashing out at what they call “opportunistic” vandalism:

    Others speculated how such moves adversely affect trust in the BLM goals, as the world has seen numerous protests triggered by the death of US African-American man George Floyd.

    Some directly suggested that such vandalism is the BLM movement’s side effect:

    Some reserved room for a bit of irony as well.

    The inscription emerged as an overwhelming Black Lives Matter trend has in recent weeks seen hundreds of statues related - even indirectly -  to slave ownership or other social injustices defaced or pulled down around the world. Following a string of attacks in the US, Trump signed an executive order to protect the country’s monuments, some of which have become targets for protesters during a month of anti-police brutality and anti-racism rallies in the aftermath of Floyd’s death at the hands of Minnesota police.


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    Little Mermaid, monument, Denmark, Black Lives Matter, racism, vandalism, art, anti-racism
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