Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid has been a hit with critics and audiences alike, but it has also faced a backlash from some online trolls who have tried to sabotage its success by posting negative reviews on IMDb, one of the most popular movie websites in the world.
IMDb, which stands for Internet Movie Database, allows users to rate and review movies and TV shows on a scale of 1 to 10 stars. However, some users have abused this feature to launch a coordinated attack on The Little Mermaid, which stars Halle Bailey as Ariel, a young mermaid who dreams of becoming human.
According to various reports , IMDb detected “unusual voting activity” on The Little Mermaid’s page, where around 13,000 out of more than 33,000 user-submitted reviews gave the movie a one-star rating, indicating a clear attempt to lower its average score and discourage potential viewers. IMDb issued a warning on the page, stating: “Our rating mechanism has detected unusual voting activity on this title. To preserve the reliability of our rating system, an alternate weighting calculation has been applied”.
IMDb did not disclose the details of its alternate weighting calculation, but it seems to have filtered out some of the suspicious votes and adjusted the movie’s rating accordingly. As of May 31, 2023, The Little Mermaid has a 7 out of 10 rating on IMDb, which is more in line with its critical reception and box office performance.
The movie has received positive reviews from critics, who praised Bailey’s performance, the musical numbers, and the colorful visuals. It also topped the box office on its opening weekend, earning $95.5 million and becoming the fifth-biggest Memorial Day weekend movie on record. This shows that the amount of positive support she is getting vastly outweighs the negative energy being thrown her way.
The review bombing campaign against The Little Mermaid is not an isolated incident. It is part of a larger trend of online harassment and sabotage that targets movies and TV shows that feature diverse casts or progressive themes. Some examples include Ghostbusters (2016), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), Captain Marvel (2019), and Batwoman (2019). These movies and shows have faced similar attacks from trolls who use bots or multiple accounts to flood review sites with negative ratings and comments, often motivated by racism, sexism, or other forms of bigotry.
Review bombing is a serious problem that undermines the credibility and usefulness of review sites as sources of information and opinion for consumers and fans. It also harms the creators and performers who work hard to bring their stories and visions to life.
IMDb’s decision to change its rating system for The Little Mermaid is a commendable step to combat this issue and protect its integrity as a movie website. However, more needs to be done to prevent review bombing from happening in the first place and to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions.
Halle Bailey has endured endless online backlash from petty online trolls who don’t agree with her being cast as the Little Mermaid. Just a few days ago it was alleged she shut down her Instagram account, after people started making memes making fun of her eyes, although it’s back up now.