Fans React to The Little Mermaid’s Lyric Changes

The live-action remake of The Little Mermaid is once again sparking conversation over changes to the familiar tale. This time, the discourse is centered around the musical’s iconic songs, two of which have been updated to better emphasize consent.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Alan Menken (the Academy Award-winning composer for much of the 90s Disney Renaissance) commented on changes he’s made to The Little Mermaid’s lyrics. The two tracks in question are “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and “Kiss the Girl,” the latter of which was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.

“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.

Although Menken did not specify which lyrics had been edited, an obvious candidate is the following section: “Yes, you want her/ Look at her, you know you do/ Possible she want 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.”

Menken continued, “We have some revisions in ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ regarding lines 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 lyrics he is referring to might be: “The men up there don’t like a lot of blabber/ They think a girl who gossips is a bore/ Yes, on land it’s much preferred/ For ladies not to say a word,” culminating in the line, “It’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man.”

Apart from the usual whining about a kids’ movie going woke, most fans seem fine with the “Kiss the Girl” edits. It’s the changes to “Poor Unfortunate Souls” that is causing some fans to question whether it makes sense for a villain, who—as Menken points out—is manipulating the heroine, to empower her.

Of course, this is all speculation. We’ll have to wait and see what the lyrics actually are and how that content is handled. And it’s important to note that this is not the first time song lyrics have been changed for the remakes. 2019’s Aladdin remake took out the line describing Agrabah as a “barbaric” place “where they cut off your ear/ If they don’t like your face.” In addition, there have always been entirely new songs added to the remake films.

Either way, the original composer is the one working on the changes (the original lyricist, Howard Ashman, having passed away in 1991), so the material could not be in better hands.

The Little Mermaid, along with its updated music, will premiere in theaters on May 26.

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