An a cappella group at Princeton University will stop performing the Disney song “Kiss the Girl” after facing backlash from students.
The all-male Princeton Tigertones have long performed the song from “The Little Mermaid” during their act and have traditionally brought a female and audience member onstage to urge them to kiss, as the song’s lyrics suggest.
The group has pulled the song following a column published in the student newspaper lamenting the performance’s “toxic masculinity,” according to NBC News.
Sophomore Noa Wollstein wrote in a column in The Daily Princetonian that the song “is more misogynistic and dismissive of consent than cute,” and called the Tigertones’ performance “an offensive and violating ritual.”
In the film, the song is performed by Sebastian the crab, who urges male love interest Prince Eric to kiss Ariel, who has given away her voice for a chance to be human.
But Wollstein writes that “removed from its cushioning context of mermaids, magic, and PG ratings, the message comes across as even more jarring.”
She noted that her primary issue with the Tigertones’ performance is the involvement of female and male audience members, and the group’s attempts to “goad the oft-reluctant pair into kissing.”
“I have seen a queer student brought on stage have to uncomfortably push away her forced male companion. I have heard of unwilling girls being subjected to their first kisses,” she wrote. “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.”
Tigertones President Wesley Brown apologized in a published response to Wollstein’s column, and said that the a cappella group would stop performing the song until they find a way to perform it “that is comfortable and enjoyable for every member of our audience.”
"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.
Brown noted that the group has faced other criticisms of the performance, and have had “internal conversations” about the song’s message.
“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,” he added.