December 5, 2018
A Princeton University male a cappella group is removing a song from The Little Mermaid from its repertoire following criticism in the student newspaper.
The Tigertones, a male a cappella group at Princeton University decided to quit singing “Kiss the Girl” from the 1989 Disney film The Little Mermaid after Daily Princetonian columnist Noa Wollstein wrote an op-ed, titled “Dear Tigertones, please stop singing ‘Kiss the Girl,’” on Nov. 26.
“Even when gently crooned by an animated crab,” Wollstein writes, the song is “more misogynistic and dismissive of consent than cute.” The columnist characterized the annual performance by the Tigertones as “offensive and violating.”
Wollstein describes the song as “clearly problematic from the get-go,” claiming that the lyrics encourage the male character Prince Eric to kiss the female Ariel, who cannot give verbal consent due to a curse that left her voiceless.
The “jarring” message of “Kiss the Girl,” according to Wollstein, is to “unambiguously encourage men to make physical advances on women without obtaining their clear consent.”
The student columnist further condemns the song as a “heteronormative attack on women’s right to oppose the romantic and sexual liberties taken by men” that is rife with “themes of toxic masculinity.”
The lyrics “suggest that masculinity is contingent on domination of women,” Wollstein continues, arguing that such an attitude may “catalyze” aggression and violence against women.
The song itself is not Wollstein’s only motivation. She also attacks the audience participation component of the Tigertones’ performances of “Kiss the Girl,” wherein the group calls one male student and one female student from the audience onto the stage. The performers dance onstage with the selected audience members, whom they then encourage to kiss, whether or not the two are a couple or even know each other.
“The singers reinforce the heteronormativity reflected in the words of the song,” writes Wollstein, by selecting one male and one female audience member, and the “fervor” with which they are encouraged to kiss “eerily amplifies” the “toxic masculinity” of the lyrics.
“I have seen a queer student brought on stage have to uncomfortably push away her forced male companion,” Wollstein says. “I have heard of unwilling girls being subjected to their first kisses.”
“The Tigertones may not be asking the girl if she wants to be kissed, but I am asking them to stop singing this song — now,” the columnist concludes.
Four days later, on Nov. 30, Tigertones president Wesley Brown wrote a letter to the editor of the Princetonian announcing the removal of “Kiss the Girl” from the group’s repertoire.
The song’s suspension will last “until we can arrive at a way to perform it that is comfortable and enjoyable for every member of our audience,” Brown writes, indicating that Wollstein’s op-ed prompted the sudden decision.
“We sincerely apologize to any of our past participants and audience members for whom our performance of this song was uncomfortable or offensive.”
Brown clarified that when audience members are called to the stage, the performers request “that they ‘do as the song says’” before they “promptly” advocate for a “peck on the cheek.”
Campus Reform reached out to both Wollstein and Brown. Wollstein declined to comment, while Brown did not respond in time for publication.
This article was posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 6:28 am