Kiss the Controversy

December 16, 2018

‘Tis the season to discuss controversial classic songs! As radio stations pull "Baby it's Cold Outside" from the air this Christmas season, due to its controversial nature (with lines like “The answer is no,” from the female singer, and “How can you do this thing to me?” from the male), a beloved Disney song is also getting scrutinized.


An all male acapella group from Princeton University has pulled one of their song from their line up, the popular serenade from The Little Mermaid “Kiss the Girl”. Other students from the university claimed that the song raises serious issues, as it is encouraging a male to kiss his date without asking for consent.


 Sha la la la la la, my oh my, looks like the boys too shy, ain’t gonna ask for consent


This kind of controversy against Disney films is not new. I mean, two of their films end with a man kissing a sleeping teenager. Disney pre-revival princesses have been raising a lot of eyebrows in the wake of Me Too, something I could write a hundred op-eds about (and most likely will). But does this song specifically deserve the PC shakedown?


One of the most important elements in cases like this is context, context, context. The song on its own, without the story, gorgeous animation, and colorful characters, I will admit is a bit...creepy. Like frat boys egging on their brother to make a move, teasing him for being “too shy” to kiss the (silent) girl. But within the context of the film, the audience knows the silent girl wants a kiss. Her life literally depends on it! She is not uncomfortable in the teeny tiny rowboat with her Prince, and it’s Ariel’s own friends trying to help her out by getting Eric to plant one on her.


It is completely fair to say that it may be a bit uncomfortable to hear these sentiments without the context of the story to help explain some of the lyrics (including gems like “It don't take a word, not a single word go on and kiss the girl.”) All in all, however, I would postulate that those who know, and love, The Little Mermaid should not feel guilty about keeping it on their Disney playlists.


Poor Ariel doesn’t even get her kiss in the end!


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