Lyric Political Correctness In “The Little Mermaid”: Not Unethical, Just “The Great Stupid” Doing What It Does…

From the Ethics Alarms mailbag came an inquiry about the latest kerfuffle over the upcoming live action version of “The Little Mermaid.” There are two great production numbers in the original, both sung by a crab: the Academy Award-winning “Under the Sea” and the more sedate “Kiss the Girl,” in which Ariel’s devoted crustacean friend urges Prince Eric, Ariel’s secret love, to take the plunge and kiss the magically land-bound fish-woman.

Here are the original lyrics:

There you see her
Sitting there across the way
She don’t got a lot to say
But there’s something about her
And you don’t know why
But you’re dying to try
You wanna kiss the girl

Yes, you want her
Look at her, you know you do
Possible she wants you too
There is one way to ask her
It don’t take a word
Not a single word
Go on and kiss the girl

Sing with me now
My oh my
Look like the boy too shy
Ain’t gonna kiss the girl
Ain’t that sad?
Ain’t it a shame?
Too bad, he gonna miss the girl

Now’s your moment (ya, ya, ya)
Floating in a blue lagoon (ya, ya, ya)
Boy, you better do it soon
No time will be better (ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya)
She don’t say a word
And she won’t say a word
Until you kiss the girl

Don’t be scared (sha-la, sha-la-la ya, ya, ya)
You got the mood prepared (woah, woah)
Go on and kiss the girl
Don’t stop now (sha-la, sha-la-la ya, ya, ya)
Don’t try to hide it how
You want to kiss the girl (woah, woah)
Float along (sha-la, sha-la-la)
And listen to the song
The song say kiss the girl (woah, woah)
The music play (ya, ya, ya, ya, ya, ya)
Do what the music say
You got to kiss the girl
You’ve got to kiss the girl
Oh, don’t you wanna kiss the girl
You’ve gotta kiss the girl
Go on and kiss the girl

Via the surviving member of the team that wrote the songs in “Mermaid” (and better yet, “Little Shop of Horrors”), Alan Menken, we learned this week that Disney, which is too woke for its own good these days (and ours), ordered up some lyric changes in the song because “people have gotten very sensitive about the idea that [Prince Eric] would, in any way, force himself on [Ariel].”

Oh, please.

Doesn’t Disney know its own stories? The potentially-maybe-possibly-offensive-lyrics-to-someone-who-is-more-interested-in-being-offended-than-in being- immersed-in-the-movie reside in this small section:

Look at her, you know you do
Possible she wants you too
There is one way to ask her
It don’t take a word
Not a single word
Go on and kiss the girl

We don’t know yet what the new, “consent” lyrics are, and it doesn’t matter: the lyric change is gratuitous and offensive itself. I know the movie well: it is my favorite of the late Disney pre-Pixar animated films. Sebastian the Crab is lobbying for what he knows his friend Ariel wants. There was never any doubt in my mind when I first saw the movie that this was what was going on in the number. Sebastian also knows Ariel can’t speak, having traded her lovely voice for a pair of legs precisely because she was in love with Eric. By saying “maybe,” the crab is being coy, just as he is when he sings “she doesn’t have a lot to say.” He also wants Eric to prove he’s not a weenie.

Ah, but we can’t have nice things in the Age of the Great Stupid, and subtlety, nuance, and fairy tale love are all good things that Woke World can’t tolerate. This is in the Ethics Alarms category known as the Jacques Brel, after the late French troubadour’s rueful observation that “If you leave it to them they will crochet the world the color of goose shit.” The song isn’t “rape the girl,” the Donald Trump version (“Grab the girl by the pussy”) or even the Joe Biden version, “grope the girl.” It’s about that magical moment when, if you’re lucky (and I was, a couple of times), one of two shy people who are attracted to each other but unsure of the other’s reciprocal feelings decides to risk rejection and kiss the girl (or the boy). And it can be glorious, but the goose-shit artists would rob humanity of that.

Naturally, Disney wants to aid and abet them. How sad. How stupid.

For the record, Jerry Herman wrote a better version of “Kiss the Girl” for his failed but often brilliant musical “Dear World.” It was called “Kiss Her Now,” and Angela Lansbury knocked it out of the park.

4 thoughts on “Lyric Political Correctness In “The Little Mermaid”: Not Unethical, Just “The Great Stupid” Doing What It Does…

  1. This movie has long been a favorite in my family, first with my nieces, then my own daughter, and more recently with my grandnieces. I know the songs well and have accompanied these generations of girls in numerous enthusiastic if imperfect “performances” of them over the years. (My grandsons enjoy singing “Under the Sea” although they are not really into the whole mermaid shtick.)
    To my mind, it borders on plagiarism to somewhat alter the work of another to re-tell an established story, rather than creating and telling a story of your own making. At the very least it is intellectual and creative laziness, and laziness is indeed unethical.
    These woke “puritans” are indeed trying to twist the very joy out of living and the very humanity out of human interactions. Shame on us if we let them get away with it or reward them for their efforts.

  2. Has anyone ever done a scene in a play or a movie satirizing a make-out session or seduction where the guy gets explicit verbal (or written, come to think of it!) permission as he inches from to and from each base? Maybe each participant could have their lawyer and a paralegal in attendance to advise their client and document the transaction. Kind of like a closing for a commercial transaction. Woody Allen could write it.

    Personally, I don’t recall any girl I ever casually dated who had any problem whatsoever dictating, I guess you could say, “the terms of our engagement.” It’s the power women wield in the battle of the sexes

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