Princeton group cuts Dis­ney tra­di­tion

Lit­tle Mer­maid per­for­mance in­volved ‘un­com­fort­able’ au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion

The Observer (Sarnia) - - ENTERTAINMENT -

PRINCETON, N.J. — An all­male a cap­pella group at Princeton Univer­sity has pulled a Dis­ney movie song from its act fol­low­ing a stu­dent news­pa­per col­umn that sug­gested the lyrics helped pro­mote “toxic mas­culin­ity.”

The Princeton Tiger­tones have per­formed Kiss the Girl, a song from The Lit­tle Mer­maid, for years. Dur­ing per­for­mances at the Ivy League school, a fe­male au­di­ence mem­ber would be brought on­stage to de­cide whether or not a man from the crowd could kiss her.

Noa Woll­stein, who wrote the col­umn, claimed the song’s mes­sage is misog­y­nis­tic and that too many women have been pulled on stage for un­wanted en­coun­ters.

“I have seen a queer stu­dent brought on stage have to un­com­fort­ably push away her forced male com­pan­ion,” Woll­stein, a sopho­more from New York, wrote in her col­umn. “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 a re­sponse pub­lished in the news­pa­per, Tiger­tones’ Pres­i­dent Wes­ley Brown apol­o­gized to any­one made un­com­fort­able by the tra­di­tion. He said the group won’t per­form the song un­til it can find a way to do so with­out of­fend­ing any au­di­ence mem­bers.

Brown, a se­nior at Princeton, wrote the group has taken steps to try to make au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion vol­un­tary and con­sen­sual, but did not pro­vide spe­cific ex­am­ples. He said the group had tried to bring a light­hearted, youth­ful en­ergy to its per­for­mance of the song but failed to en­sure com­fort for au­di­ence mem­bers brought on stage.

“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,” he wrote.

In The Lit­tle Mer­maid, the song’s lyrics are sung by Se­bas­tian the crab as he en­cour­ages Prince Eric to kiss Ariel, who can’t talk be­cause she traded her voice in or­der to be­come hu­man for him.

“My oh my/ Look like the boy too shy/ Ain’t gonna kiss the girl,” the crab sings with help from other sea crea­tures. “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 also crit­i­cized The Lit­tle Mer­maid song for “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,” Woll­stein wrote.

FILE PHOTO

The Princeton Tiger­tones, an all-male a cap­pella group at Princeton Univer­sity, have per­formed Kiss the Girl, from The Lit­tle Mer­maid, for years.

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