Though the thread of sexual liberation has a free run in the music of the Swedish pop band ABBA but they could hardly be considered hedonistic or decadent, in light of other pop bands. However, the recent wave of #MeToo, seems to have caught ABBA , too in its loop with two of the ABBA’s hit songs, featured in Mamma Mia having undergone critical shifts in lyrics in order to accommodate for hinting at “offensive relationships” between man and woman
The most noticeable meddling has been done with the lyrics of the 1976 hit chart buster ‘When I kissed my teacher’, rendered by Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, subtly hinting at an exploitative relationship between young female student obsessing over her much older male teacher. The film, however glosses over the fact that the teacher is male, in the current sexual harassment fervour, which seems to have taken over Hollywood and swapped the teacher’s gender to a female one, played in the movie by Celia Imrie, to make it seemingly more acceptable to a wider audience base. The young protagonist who sets the ball in motion is played by Lily James, enacting the character of Donna Sheridan.
In the second song “The Name of the Game”, the words “the bashful child’ has been tweaked into a ‘curious one’ to skim over the theme of exploitation of the vulnerable.
Fans, on social media, however have taken major offence to taking cinematic liberties with such iconic songs. Many rued that in spite of the change, the lyrics still point to a dysfunctional relationship between a student and her mentor.
When ABBA Biographer Carl Magnus Palm was asked about his take on the matter, he felt it absolutely irrelevant to tweak the lyrics of such classics unless and until they justify the spirit of the movie.