Last week, a radio station pulled “Baby It’s Cold Outside” from their playlist. Now, an all male group from Princeton University is nixing “Kiss the Girl” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid because of an article a female student wrote in the student newspaper.
Noa Wollstein, a sophomore at Princeton, claims in her opinion piece that, “Even when gently crooned by an animated crab, the song “Kiss The Girl,” from the Disney hit “The Little Mermaid,” is more misogynistic and dismissive of consent than cute. By performing the song multiple times each semester, the Tigertones elevate it to an offensive and violating ritual.”
Wollstein says the lyrics raise some serious issues because Prince Eric fails to get consent from Ariel before trying to kiss her and that because an evil sea witch cursed the mermaid and took her voice, consent is impossible. She says that makes the song ” problematic from the get-go.”
Removed from its cushioning context of mermaids, magic, and PG ratings, the message comes across as even more jarring. Lyrics such as, “It’s possible she wants you too/There’s one way to ask her/It don’t take a word, not a single word/Go on and kiss the girl, kiss the girl,” and “she won’t say a word/Until you kiss that girl,” unambiguously encourage men to make physical advances on women without obtaining their clear consent.
The song launches a heteronormative attack on women’s right to oppose the romantic and sexual liberties taken by men, further inundating the listener with themes of toxic masculinity. In trying to motivate Eric to kiss Ariel, the crab, Sebastian, makes use of lines such as, “Looks like the boy’s too shy,” “Don’t be scared,” and “It’s such a shame, too bad/You’re gonna miss the girl.”
Wollstein also has a problem with the way the group performs the song.
The a capella group must stop singing the song because, whenever they render it, the Tigertones call one male and one female audience member up to join them. They then proceed to sing and dance with the “volunteers,” who are often pressured to join the singers by their friends’ cheers and the unrelenting appeals of a Tone, and attempt to goad the oft-reluctant pair into kissing.
The hypothetical issues brought up by the song’s lyrics come to fruition as unacceptable conduct in the Tigertones’ performances. The singers reinforce the heteronormativity reflected in the words of the song by selecting one male and one female audience participant. The fervor with which the all-male Tones press the man to kiss the female subject eerily amplifies the song’s assertions of toxic masculinity. The absence of opportunity for the chosen woman to protest at a Tigertones show mimics the song’s acceptance of the woman’s lack of consent to being kissed.
Higher education at its finest, folks. We now have college aged-feminists crapping all over one of the best animated Disney movies of all time and accusing a sweet song sung by a cartoon crab of toxic masculinity.