One of Princeton University’s male a capella groups has yanked a Disney song after accusations appeared in the school’s newpaper that its lyrics promoted “toxic masculinity.”
The Princeton Tigertones have made “The Little Mermaid’s” “Kiss the Girl” a staple of their performances for years. Each year, a female member of the audience would be brought up to the stage in order to decide if a particular male crowd member could have the opportunity to share a kiss.
Noa Wollstein, a sophomore at the school and author of the column in question, stated that the song came across as misogynistic and that a fair number of women, one of whom identified as queer, had been forced into the onstage encounters. Wollstein said that several girls had been subjected to having their first kiss through the show and even some mothers, supportive of the performers, being pulled up on stage.
Wesley Brown, a senior and also the president for the performance group, responded with an apology to any discomfort from the tradition. Brown went on to say that the group would refrain from performing the piece until it could be done without offense. Brown continued by stating that the group had looked to make audience participation a voluntary and consensual experience. Brown admitted that the song, intended to bring an upbeat and cheery energy had only succeeded in discomforting audience participants, “an outcome…antithetical to [the] group’s mission.”
In Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” “Kiss the Girl” is sung by Sebastian, a talking crab, as he urges Prince Eric to kiss the Princess Ariel from the sidelines while also cajoling various animals to enhance the mood of the two humans’ boat ride. As to the reason why Ariel does not simply tell Eric that she loves him, she traded her voice to Ursula, a half-octopus sea-witch, in order to pursue her true love in the form of a human being. Should Ariel fail to win Eric’s affections in three days, she will be reduced to a lost soul bound to Ursula’s cave.
Wollstein added to her criticisms of the performance by claiming that the song encouraged men to make physical advances against women without first receiving clear signals and consent from those women. She felt that the only cushion to such messages being conveyed through song were the source film’s uses of mermaids and magic, as well as being rated as a PG film.