An all-men’s a capella group at Princeton is pulling a popular Disney song from its lineup after consent concerns.
The Princeton Tigertones had been performing Kiss the Girl from Disney’s The Little Mermaid for years but recently cut the track from its routine. A student newspaper suggested the song’s lyrics and the group’s onstage traditions promoted “toxic masculinity,” the Associated Press reported.
During the performance, two audience members (a man and woman) would be brought onstage and encouraged to kiss each other at the end of the song.
Noa Wollstein, who wrote column in the paper, added that the song’s message was misogynistic and too many women in the past had been pulled onstage for unwanted encounters.
“I have seen a queer student brought onstage have to uncomfortably push away her forced male companion,” Wollstein wrote.
“I have heard of unwilling girls being subjected to their first kisses. I have watched mothers, who have come to see their child’s performance, be pulled up to the stage only to have tension generated between them and the kid they came to support.”
In response to Wollstein’s piece, Tigertones president Wesley Brown apologized to anyone who felt uncomfortable with the group’s tradition. Brown added the group would stop performing the song until they found a way to do it without offending the audience.
“Performances of this song have made participants uncomfortable and offended audience members, an outcome which is antithetical to our group’s mission and one that we deeply regret,” Brown said.
Brown noted the group did take steps to make the interaction onstage more consensual, but AP added he did not provide examples of what the group did.
In a video posted on YouTube from the Tigertones in March 2013, you can see one a capella member bring a woman onstage during the song. After a few dance routines, the singer also brings a man on stage and unbuttons the top few buttons of his shirt.
The two audience members end up dancing together, while a singer proclaims the two would now “kiss each other.” The male audience member ends up kissing the woman on the cheek and both walk off the stage.
In the popular Disney film from 1989, Sebastian the crab sings the song to Prince Eric, encouraging him to kiss Ariel, the mermaid.
“My oh my / Look like the boy too shy / Ain’t gonna kiss the girl,” Sebastian sings. “Ain’t that sad? / It’s such a shame / Too bad / You’re gonna miss the girl.”
Other lyrics include: “Don’t be scared / You better be prepared / Go on and kiss the girl.”
Wollstein argued the song lyrics “unambiguously encourage men to make physical advances on women without obtaining their clear consent.”
“Removed from its cushioning context of mermaids, magic and PG ratings, the message comes across as even more jarring.”
Controversial holiday content
The news comes days after some Canadian radio stations banned Christmas classic Baby, It’s Cold Outside on airwaves over concerns of “inappropriate lyrics” in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Stations owned by Corus Entertainment, Bell Media, Rogers and CBC Radio said the song from 1940 would not be included in their holiday roundup.
“While we consider both points of view, and in light of the times we are living in, we have chosen to remove the song, for the time being, from two of our holiday music streams,” CBC public affairs head Chuck Thompson said in a statement.
At the same time, another holiday classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, was deemed “seriously problematic” by some media publications. Critics said the film promoted bullying and bigotry. Many, however, did not agree with these sentiments, People reported.
Global News is owned by Corus Entertainment.
—With files from the Associated Press and Global News’ Adam Frisk