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Two Songs in ‘The Little Mermaid’ Will Have New Lyrics to Emphasize Consent

Two Songs in ‘The Little Mermaid’ Will Have New Lyrics to Emphasize Consent

Two songs in the upcoming live-action remake of the The Little Mermaid  — “Kiss the Girl” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” — are being revised to reflect changing social attitudes towards consent. The new lyrics are being co-written by Alan Menken, the composer behind the original soundtrack, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the mastermind behind Hamilton and Tick… Tick… BOOM.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Menken explained the reasoning behind the lyric changes.

“There are some lyric changes in ‘Kiss the Girl’ because people have gotten very sensitive about the idea that [Prince Eric] would, in any way, force himself on [Ariel],” he said.

It’s a welcome update for a movie that was originally released in 1989, when discussions of consent were not as prevalent in the media. In the updated version, Menken shared the lyrics have been revised to emphasize the importance of communication and consent. It’s a small but significant change that reflects the current cultural conversation around consent and sexual agency.

In “Kiss the Girl,” Ariel’s pal Sebastian urges Prince Eric to kiss her before time runs out: “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.”

“Poor Unfortunate Souls” has also been revised. Menken said the original contained lyrics that “might make young girls somehow feel that they shouldn’t speak out of turn, even though Ursula is clearly manipulating Ariel to give up her voice.”

The men up there don’t like a lot of blabber. They think a girl who gossips is a bore,” Ursula sings on the original track. “Yet on land it’s much preferred for ladies not to say a word. And after all, what is idle babble for? It’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man.”

This isn’t the first time Disney has updated some of it’s more problematic lyrics. For the last few years, Disney has tried to modernize their classic stories for contemporary audiences, like in the 2019 live-action remake of Aladdin, when composers changed lyrics about “hot princesses,” “slaves” and “barbaric” backdrops.

The Little Mermaid will premiere in theaters May 26.

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