Apparently more radio stations are considering banning Frank Loesser’s classic winter seduction song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” after one Ohio station did so in response to social justice warrior lobbying. This is where progressiveness is heading: are Americans really unaware of this? Well, if the public and society want a restrictive culture in which political and ideological viewpoints are advanced using censorship, social media bullying, boycotts and indoctrination, that’s their choice, but someone other than me should at least keep reminding them that they are embracing totalitarianism in all but name. I don’t even like the damn song, but this is one more bad slippery slope that slides away from liberty.
Now the Tigertones, an all-male Princeton University a cappella group, has capitulated to similar attacks on “Kiss the Girl,” a song from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Students complained that the song and their performance of it promoted misogyny and “toxic masculinity” and violated the principle of consent. In the movie, one of my favorite of the old fashioned Disney non-computer animated films, the character Sebastian the Crab and a chorus of creatures try to give subliminal support to shy Prince Eric, who is in a romantic setting with ex-mermaid Ariel, rendered mute by a bad trade with the Sea-Hag, in which she gained legs at the cost of her voice. Only true love’s kiss can restore her ability to talk (and sing), but Eric is hestitant.Here’s the song:
The singers, known as the Tigertones, have for years performed the song “Kiss the Girl” by yanking a heterosexual couple from the audience and encouraging them to smooch on the cheek, according to Inside Higher Ed.
“[It’s] more misogynistic and dismissive of consent than cute,” sophomore Noa Wollstein wrote in the Daily Princetonian :
“By performing the song multiple times each semester, the Tigertones elevate it to an offensive and violating ritual,” the piece, titled “Dear Tigertones, please stop singing ‘Kiss the Girl’”…“[The song lyrics]s imply that not using aggressive physical action to secure Ariel’s sexual submission makes Eric weak — an irrefutable scaredy-cat…These statements suggest that masculinity is contingent on domination of women. This attitude can catalyze violent tendencies toward, and assault against, women.”
The criticism of the performance bit has some validity. The criticism of the song itself has none.
From nightclub acts to interactive theatrical performances, pulling audience members into a song, skit or other performance genre is a practice that is centuries old. The performer has an obligation not to abuse or make the “volunteer” feel humiliated or uncomfortable, but there is no issue of consent. Audiences consent by buying a ticket. Still, I would never stage a bit where an audience couple was urged, pushed, bullied or shamed to do something to each other, even a kiss on the cheek. It’s not a huge breach of ethics or abuse of power, but the staging crosses an ethical line. The troupe is wise to dump it.
The song itself, however, is beyond reproach. Given that she is temporarily mute, Ariel could not signal consent more clearly. There is nothing in the song that suggests that “masculinity is contingent on domination of women.” The song embodies the real life dilemma when a man knows that the time is right to move a relationship to the next level, but hesitates out of fear of rejection, a fear that #MeToo has only exacerbated—except now there is the added fear that “the girl” will appear before a Senate committee thirty years layer and accuse the man of being a sexual predator.
As someone who always, always, clutched in that situation, resulting in either the woman involved kissing me or later asking, “What the hell were you waiting for, you big weenie?,” I wish some singing crabs had been on hand to steel my resolve many times. I would have had a happier youth.