Princeton a capella group drops ‘misogynistic’ ‘Little Mermaid’ song ‘Kiss the Girl’

A Disney classic has been removed — for now — from the repertoire of a Princeton University a capella troupe after concerns were raised about its message.

“Kiss the Girl,” the Oscar-nominated Alan Menken and Howard Ashman song from the 1989 Disney film “The Little Mermaid,” has been cut from the active repertoire of The Princeton Tigertones, the university’s all-male a capella group.

The song has come under fire for encouraging men to make physical advances on women regardless of a lack of consent, described as “a heteronormative attack on women’s right to oppose the romantic and sexual liberties taken by men” in the university’s paper of record.

Tigertones president Wesley Brown, a senior from North Carolina, wrote in a Nov. 30 letter to the Daily Princetonian that a “central element” of the group’s “Kiss the Girl” performances was a singer bringing male and female audience members on stage, encouraging them to dance with each other and then “do as the song says,” calling for “a peck on the cheek,” in Brown’s words.

“Many of the recent criticisms of this performance reflect on internal conversations our group has been having for some time,” Brown wrote. “In the last few years, we have taken intentional steps towards ensuring that audience participation is more voluntary and consensual.

“These steps have clearly not succeeded in guaranteeing total comfort for both participants or in obtaining continual consent. 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.”

The Tigertones’ decision to cut the song follows a Nov. 26 Daily Princetonian column by Noa Wollstein, a sophomore from New York which described the song as “more misogynistic and dismissive of consent than cute.”

“By performing the song multiple times each semester,” Wollstein said, “the Tigertones elevate it to an offensive and violating ritual. 

Brown said the Tigertones are removing the song from the group’s active repertoire “until we can arrive at a way to perform it that is comfortable and enjoyable for every member of our audience,” and apologized to past audience members and participants who were offended or made uncomfortable by the performance.

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