The Little Mermaid director Rob Marshall defends the decision to update some of the lyrics to “Kiss the Girl,” a classic song from the original movie. Loosely based on a Danish fairy tale of the same name from 1837, Disney’s animated The Little Mermaid was released in 1989 and has since become one of the studio’s most beloved films. The animated classic is now set to be reimagined in live-action, with actor Halle Bailey taking on the role of Ariel, a mermaid who yearns for a life beyond the sea.
Ahead of The Little Mermaid‘s release date later this month, Marshall explains in a new press release (via ComicBook.com) why the divisive decision was made to change lyrics to “Kiss the Girl”. Composer Alan Menken first revealed that there would be changes to the song last month, a decision that subsequently received some pushback. Check out Mashall’s defense of the changes below:
“We asked Lin-Manuel to make some slight adjustments to the original lyrics for ‘Kiss the Girl,’ because it’s important to remember that the culture and sensitivities have changed over the last 34 years, and it’s vital that we are respectful to those changes.”
The Little Mermaid Remake’s Updates Aren’t A Bad Thing
Many of the most beloved Disney animated movies were released decades ago when ideologies surrounding race, gender, and other aspects of society were very different. The animated Peter Pan, for example, features depictions of Indigenous people that are now deemed highly insensitive. While The Little Mermaid‘s indiscretions perhaps aren’t quite that severe, the movie isn’t free from outdated ideas regarding consent.
“Kiss the Girl” remains one of the most memorable songs from The Little Mermaid, but it also treats Ariel purely as an object of desire, encouraging Prince Erik to kiss her without any consideration for whether she actually wants that. Over the past three decades, ideas regarding consent have changed, and it’s important that younger, impressionable audiences watching the film for the first time aren’t encouraged to behave in ways incongruous with modern societal values.
In addition to The Little Mermaid‘s lyric changes and its colorblind casting, the remake would actually do well to make even more changes to the original. If there’s one thing the recent Disney remakes have almost all been criticized for, it’s failing to update their source material enough to justify the existence of a remake at all. It remains to be seen how audiences receive the live-action version of The Little Mermaid, but the film is seemingly, at the very least, treating ideas regarding consent with respect.
The Little Mermaid (1989)