Alan Menken, the legendary composer who's worked on Disney's greatest classics – including the 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid – is now working on the live-action remake. The soundtrack from the original movie was certified 6x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Rhapsody even called it one of the all-time great Disney and/or Pixar soundtracks in 2010. The album has also received a Grammy, a Golden Globe, and a Satellite Award. But despite all of The Little Mermaid's accolades for its stellar tunes, Menken had some revising to do for the live-action movie. It seems the OG songs have some “problematic lyrics.”
According to Menken, some individuals have a certain idea about Eric when it comes to “Kiss the Girl.” While there hasn’t been news of what the “politically correct” version will say, it has been stated that the song will be tweaked to include “consent and female empowerment.” “There are some lyric changes in ‘Kiss the Girl,'” Menken told Vanity Fair, “because people have gotten very sensitive about the idea that [Prince Eric] would, in any way, force himself on [Ariel]."
For context, Sebastian the crab sidekick sings this song and urges Eric to kiss Ariel, and the lyrics Menken is probably pointing to might be this: “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.” If you remember this scene, Ariel and Eric spend a romantic night together on a boat, and at one point, Ariel leans in for a kiss. The prince turns away, and she looks visibly upset. But with Sebastian acting as her wingman (plus Ariel’s body language), it’s quite evident that she’s open to a smooch.
“Kiss the Girl” isn’t the only catchy tune that’s getting an update. “Poor Unfortunate Souls” is apparently no longer rated PG either. “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,” Menken added.
In the original movie, Ursula sings about how the ladies who keep quiet are the ones who get a man. “The men up there don't like a lot of blabber / They think a girl who gossips is a bore / Yet on land it’s much preferred for ladies not to say a word / And after all, dear, what is idle babble for? Come on, they’re not all that impressed with conversation / True gentlemen avoid it when they can / But they dote and swoon and fawn / On a lady who’s withdrawn / It’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man.”
Again, they haven’t specified what changes will be made to “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” but let’s not forget that Ursula is literally the villain. It’s in her character to make disempowering statements toward Ariel. It seems society is completely disregarding context when it comes to anything now, because, in this instance, Ursula is doing everything she can to take Ariel’s power and voice away. She wants to manipulate Ariel to give up her voice to her, not to Eric. That’s her goal. So the song – even if it is “offensive” – makes a lot of sense when Ursula sings it.
Not only are the lyrics to the classics changing, but it also looks like the colors are too. Thousands of users have complained about the live-action film looking awfully dull and grey, whilst the animated film was full of color and life. In any case, the remake is set to be released next month – I predict many people will still watch it, but based on the criticism the new Little Mermaid has already received, things are not looking good for ratings.
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