Melissa McCarthy sends pitch-perfect message to bigots who have ‘a problem with drag’

Actor Melissa McCarthy attending the premiere of The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid star Melissa McCarthy has called attention to the “absolute lunacy” of the conservative backlash facing drag performers in the US.

While she’s set to be seen as the voice-stealing, tentacle-waving, drag-inspired sea witch, Ursula, in the live adaptation of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, in real life McCarthy is one of the few celebrities in Hollywood to condemn the rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment sweeping the United States, including state legislation targeting drag performers and gender-affirming healthcare.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, McCarthy, who performed stand-up as drag queen Miss Y earlier in her career, addressed the wave of abuse she received on social media when she posted a collage of mainstream films such as Mrs. Doubtfire and Some Like It Hot on Instagram with the message, “You’ve been entertained by drag your whole life. Don’t pretend it’s a problem now.”

Calling the backlash absolute lunacy, McCarthy pointed out the hypocrisy of conservative lawmakers who appear perpetually outraged by the existence of drag performers but remain quiet on other more serious concerns.

“Of all the scary and dangerous things going on in the world, they want to concentrate on this? To anybody who has a real problem with drag, I need to ask: have you been to a drag brunch? It’s delightful.”

McCarthy has previously spoken about the character of Ursula, who is widely known to have been inspired by drag superstar Divine.

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Ahead of the release of The Little Mermaid, the star said that her version of the nefarious sea witch is “100 per cent” a tribute to drag queens, while director Rob Marshall also confirmed that the character is firmly rooted in drag culture.

“I love that she was originally inspired by Divine, the wonderful drag actor, who was so original and so funny,” he remarked. “We really used Divine as our inspiration because that’s where it started.

Marshall also praised the “fabulous” McCarthy’s performance in the film, adding that she was “able to find all that depth and emotion, in addition to all the other colours”.

The Little Mermaid opens on Friday (26 May).