Like Ariel, are mermaids just longing to be part of our world?
If you believe filmmaker Charlie Foley, whose “documentary” Mermaids: The Body Found aired this past weekend on Animal Planet as part of “Monster Week,” then yes.
The speculative documentary (a.k.a. not real. A mermaid is not going to attack you while you nap on the beach, okay?) explored the myth of the underwater princess — but she’s not the sweet-singing Disney version. The CGI mermaids from the film were dead ringers for the scary merpeople from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, or rejects from the set of Avatar. The theory presented by the movie suggested that long ago, a group of human ancestors evolved to become sea creatures — this is called the aquatic ape hypothesis and is an actual theory put forth by some researchers. If you buy into it — or maybe saw The Thirteenth Year too many times as a kid — then this is where mermaids come from. The Animal Planet movie explains that when a real-life mermaid was found alive on a beach, a big government cover-up ensued so that no one would find out…until now.
The movie isn’t meant to be taken super seriously. It’s like those Finding Bigfoot mockumentaries that appear every couple of years. But people are certainly treating the film like we’ve found hipster Ariel herself. On Twitter, people were simultaneously freaking out about mermaids and chastising others for freaking out about mermaids. Yahoo! Answers questioned the validity of merpeople, and the website listed in the trailer, BelieveInMermaids.com, has been seized by the Department of Homeland Security. Spooky (or a great PR trick).
Animal Planet has put together a pretty awesome photo gallery of real-life pictures of mermaid “evidence.” The skeptic in me wants to say they look more deformed whale than King Triton. The girl in me who wants nothing more than to have a mermaid BFF whose hair I can braid thinks that this spear pic looks pretty real. People have spent centuries on the hunt for the elusive BigFoot, or obsessing over tracking ghosts in haunted houses. We as a culture have been pretty tolerant of the supernatural — vampires, werewolves, Kim Kardashian. We already have the Real Housewives of Disney. Is Mermaids: The Real Housewives of the Sea too far off?