Why King Triton Is the Real Villain in “The Little Mermaid”

October 5, 2014

How long has it been since you’ve seen The Little Mermaid? If you don’t remember, it’s the heartwarming tale of a mermaid who gives up her family and physical identity for a man she saw dancing on a boat from afar. In case you think I’m being a little harsh, I’ll concede that said dancing guy was pretty hot.


Here’s another little reminder: the dad was a total creep.

Exhibit A: He was shirtless. All the time. When was the last time you saw a middle aged man shirtless and thought, “ah yes, how perfectly natural and socially acceptable this is.” Judging from his magnificent white god-beard, King Triton is at least sixty year-old, and yet he’s happy to parade around with his inexplicably defined abs for all the world to see.


But Dana, you might be thinking, they’re under the sea! I see my dad in a swimsuit sometimes! Isn’t it just like he’s wearing a swimsuit? I’ll respond to that question with another question – when was the last time your dad decided to go to the beach in giant metal cuffs?

But they’re underwater! If he were wearing clothes, they would get all soggy! 1. See previously mentioned magnificent white god-beard. I don’t see his magnificent white god-beard looking all wet and stringy. 2. Ursula wears a chic strapless dress. Clothes underwater do exist.


Speaking of Ursula, she gets a bad rap. Let’s review: she makes a deal with Ariel that she has to kiss a guy in three days without talking or else she turns into a shriveled piece of spinach that got stuck in someone’s teeth.



Admittedly, the stakes are high, but is it really that hard to kiss someone in three days? Especially when you have gorgeous red hair and a perfect bod?

But Dana, you might ask, didn’t Ursula use her magic to enchant Eric and imitate Ariel’s voice?  

Well, yes, you’re right, I’d reply, and also you’re really well versed in The Little Mermaid. BUT that wasn’t until like, the third day, and Ariel had time and time again (romantic beach, romantic carriage ride, romantic boat ride) to smack lips with her one true love. Good on Eric for waiting for some verbal consent – the onus was really on Ariel to make like Sheryl Sandberg and freaking lean in.

It’s scary to make the first move sometimes, huh? Scarier than spending your entire life as an anthropomorphic booger?


Oh, I’m sure she just didn’t want to seem clingy or desperate, like she gave up her entire species and family to be with him before they ever met. Yeah, trying to kiss him would definitely be the thing that freaks him out. And at least Ursula made a deal with Ariel. When King Triton found out his daughter had a hobby other than singing in his little pageants, he went ape-shit and tridents the shit out of her cove that probably took forever to organize.

Let’s focus on those pageants. The beginning of the movie shows an elaborate ceremony in which he forces his teenage daughters to perform a little singing number in bikini tops. Total creep. Any dad who organizes a routine for his scantily clad children should probably be on a watch list or two. And I’m not even going to get into how his daughters all have different hair colors. There’s no Queen Triton anywhere. His litter of children just proves King Triton was working those abs and golden cuffs at the local mermaid bar.


To recap: Ursula makes a totally consensual and totally winnable deal with Ariel.

King Triton, the long-haired, older, single father who likes to go around shirtless, freaks out when his daughter shows a little bit of independence because she won’t dance in her shell-bikini for the mermaid masses. I rest my case.

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