While some mermaids are pictured as terrifying monsters with sharp teeth, others are depicted as beautiful creatures with long silky hair. Regardless of appearances, they still represent the same four concepts as they did from 1100-1900.
~Dangerous Mermaids in Popular Culture
Mermaids appear in Peter Pan (1953), as innocent yet dangerous. In this film, mermaids are depicted in a typical manner, brushing their hair, adorning themselves with starfish, and singing sweet songs all while sitting on rocks. While these mermaids are portrayed in a more playful manner, their crafty intentions remain. Upon seeing Wendy, the mermaids become jealous and splash her, trying to tug her into the water. When Peter tells Wendy that the mermaids meant no harm a black haired mermaid snidely remarks, “We were only trying to drown her!”, proof of the lingering danger of mermaids. See
In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, 2011, a poignant scene depicts the sailors sailing through mermaid infested waters. While all the seamen are warned of the deadly danger of mermaids one man leans over the edge of the canoe to get a closer look at the beautiful creature. The instant he leans he is immediately snatched out of the boat and drowned by the blond-haired mermaid, showing that beauty comes in deadly forms. See
Recently, The Rotterdam Maritime Museum did an exhibit called Sex & The Sea, attracting younger people by showing the sexual side of mermaids. The display only admitted those age sixteen and older (8). Mermaids were shown through provocative art and described as erotic and taboo (8). The exhibit has now moved to the Sjöhistoriska Maritime Museum, in Sweden, where it remains until April of 2016.
Mermaids still permeate our culture, appearing in TV shows, movies, and books. Their remaining popularity shows society’s deep fascination with mystical creatures, using them to embody fear, confusion, danger, vanity, and submission to God.
- Stanley, Jo. “Sex and the Sea: Rotterdam’s Maritime Museum.” The Journal of Transport History1 (2014): 121+. World History in Context. Web.
- “Sex & the Sea.” – The Maritime Museum. N.p., n.d. Web.