A male a cappella group at Princeton University will no longer be performing ‘Kiss the Girl’ from The Little Mermaid due to audience complaints about it reinforcing “the heteronormativity,” promoting “toxic masculinity” and being “misogynistic and dismissive of consent.”
The Princeton Tigertones would typically pick a woman from the audience to serenade during the cute and playful performance.
“The singers will playfully dance with her for a bit, and right before the number wraps up, they’ll pick a man from the audience, too. They might pretend to groom him, and spin him around, and then pull the duo together. And at the end, they declare that, in a node to the song’s title, they should kiss — and the couple will comply, sometimes on with a peck on the cheek, sometimes briefly on the lips,” Inside Higher Ed reports.
The performance came under increased social-justice scrutiny when sophomore student, Noa Wollstein, wrote to the student newspaper The Daily Princetonian complaining the song is “more misogynistic and dismissive of consent than cute.”
“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 wrote.
Wollstein added that, “such expressions imply that not using aggressive physical action to secure Ariel’s sexual submission makes Eric weak — an irrefutable scaredy-cat. Applied outside of the realm of the movie, these statements suggest that masculinity is contingent on domination of women. This attitude can catalyze violent tendencies toward, and assault against, women.”
I bet she’s a blast at parties!
The sophomore concluded her post by urging the group to stop performing the popular song — and they have agreed to comply.
“Our group is always striving to impart joy and positivity through our music, and we take very seriously any indication that we fall short of this goal,” Wesley Brown, the president of the group, wrote in a statement. “For that reason, we want to make sure that all audience members feel encouraged to reach out to the group and initiate a dialogue if they ever feel that any aspect of our show is upsetting or offensive. Our repertoire, traditions, and group as a whole are constantly evolving, and thus we value this opportunity to ensure a more comfortable performance environment moving forward.”
The president of the Contemporary A Cappella Society, Tony Huerta, suggested that instead of scrapping the song and the act entirely, the group could plant people in the audience that are willing to smooch.
“Make it part of the show,” Huerta wrote in an email to Inside Higher Ed. “The audience doesn’t need to know that it was planned. Then it’s entertainment without hurt feelings. But don’t expect strangers to kiss without some pushback.”