Mediamatic Magazine vol 4 #1+2 Jans Possel 1 Jan 1989

Blub Jeah Aaah NOW!

The Emancipation of the mermaid

The bad reputation of the sea god Triton, son of Poseidon, has resulted in the merman being relegated to complete oblivion or rather he has simply been repressed from memory.


Blub Jeah Aaah NOW! -

According to the story this half man/half fish assaulted and used women on the ocean’s shore. Hence Triton was summoned by Poseidon and demoted to the rank of servant to the sea god’s retinue. By way of punishment Poseidon duplicated Triton 50 times so that there were as many Tritons as their female counterparts in Poseidon’s retinue, the Nereids.

These sea nymphs have the gift to assume different forms. Their task is to cheer up sailors with games and dance and to help them in times of need. Their beauty and helpfiilness have contributed greatly to their popularity. The Nereids’ form clearly corresponds to our image of the mermaid: beautiful subservient women with long blond hair, wiggling their tails seductively. In short: innocent creatures. But time has not stood still. Ideas such as emancipation and self- realization have not passed them by.

Although this process has been extremely gradual with most Nereids, there is one mermaid who has undergone it at breakneck speed. She has exploited her gift to transform herself and has assumed the form of Madonna. In the clip Cherish (1989) we see her wearing a tight dress and lying provocatively between sea and sand. Nearby three friendly and obliging Tritons are playing in the sea with a merchild. Completely subjected to the singer's whims and wishes they cherish her beloved son. ‘Dressed up’ as Madonna the mermaid has completely withdrawn from (mer)Man’s power and has reversed the roles.

In the following article Philip Hayward outlines how emancipation is developing in terms of some of her sisters in the media.