Princeton group drops Disney song over ‘toxic masculinity’
PRINCETON — Princeton’s all-male acappella group is ending a tradition that goes along with their performance of a Disney song that a critic said promotes "toxic masculinity."
During their performances of the song "Kiss The Girl" from Disney's "The Little Mermaid" the Tigertones brought a random man and woman on stage, according to the group's president Wesley Brown in a guest column in the Daily Princetonian.
After dancing with each of them, the members then encouraged them to "do as the song says" and give each other a kiss on the cheek.
Brown explained the tradition in response to a letter to the student newspaper written by sophomore Noa Wollstein titled "Dear Tigertones, please stop singing ‘Kiss The Girl’."
Wollstein is concerned that the song, performed by Prince Eric in the 1989 movie at a point where Ariel's voice has been taken away because of an evil curse leaving her unable to grant verbal consent for a kiss, is sending the wrong message.
"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," Wollstein wrote.
Wollstein said she has witnessed a number of uncomfortable situations created during the Tigertones performance, including a homosexual student having to uncomfortably push away her forced male companion, and mothers, who came to see their child’s performance, getting pulled up to the stage only to have tension generated between them and the kid they came to support.
"The fervor with which the all-male Tones press the man to kiss the female subject eerily amplifies the song’s assertions of toxic masculinity. The absence of opportunity for the chosen woman to protest at a Tigertones show mimics the song’s acceptance of the woman’s lack of consent to being kissed," Wollstein wrote.
Brown, in his response, said the group has taken steps towards ensuring the participants are "more voluntary and consensual" and recognized that these steps may not have been enough to "guarantee total comfort" and "obtaining continual consent."
The group is taking the song out of its active repertoire until they can figure out a way to make it "comfortable and enjoyable" for the audience.
"We apologize to any of our past participants and audience members for whom our performance of this song was uncomfortable or offensive," Brown wrote.
The Tigertones were founded in 1946, according to their website, and have performed around the world. Pictures on the website show them at a Los Angeles Chargers football game, at the Great Wall of China and in Rome.