Nobody loved The Little Mermaid as much as I did. The music, the adventure, the characters, and the high-stakes drama – it was all two-year-old me could ask for in a movie. He could watch it every day, so he did. As soon as his big sisters were off to school, the daily Little Mermaid ritual began: climbing into his VHS cabinet, shimmying out the bulky white plastic case between Lady and the Tramp and Mary Poppins, jamming the tape into the VCR, and immersing himself into the story of Ariel.
The Little Mermaid was such an important part of his everyday routine. Nobody could love it as much as he did.
Except the thousands of fans who also attended a screening of the film at the Hollywood Bowl. Followers of Ariel of all shapes and sizes, from little princesses to full-grown adults cosplaying as Scuttle, the real show on display was the breadth and diversity of all the people this movie touched.
In the era of Netflix, it’s so easy to enjoy entertainment wherever and whenever we please – often from the comfort of home. But it’s another experience entirely to go out, get dressed up, buy an expensive ticket for a movie you’ve already seen, and take part in a collective, collaborative entertainment event. The film screening was enhanced by the presence and enthusiasm of a motley crew, cheering as Ursula gets defeated, stifling tears as King Triton destroys Ariel’s grotto, and whistling when Eric finally “kisses the girl.”
His childhood routine, of watching and re-watching The Little Mermaid, was a mostly solitairy one – with Mom stepping in every 80 minutes or so to rewind the tape. It was something else to experience this film with a crowd of thousands, authentic kids and kids at heart, who also watched it every day growing up, now no longer alone.