Published on: December 7, 2018
by Kevin Coupe
Okay, here’s a controversy that, I suspect, most of us didn’t see coming.
A number of radio stations have decided to ban then playing of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” the forties-era Frank Loesser classic Christmas song that’s been covered by pretty much everybody. (The video at left is the first time it was played in the movies, performed by Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams, and then Red Skelton and Betty Garrett, in Neptune’s Daughter, released in 1949.)
The reason? There is a growing sense among some that the lyrics, which used to be seen as an innocent winter flirtation, now hint at date rape - one member of the duet (usually, but not always, the male) won’t take “no” for an answer, while the other (usually, but not always, the female), at one point sings, “What’s in this drink?”
Nobody actually is arguing that Loesser wrote it as a date-rape anthem. He actually originally wrote it to perform, with his wife, at Christmas parties.
But some radio stations, urged to take another look at the lyrics by feminists and proponents of the #MeToo movement, have taken it out of the holiday song rotation. Of course, there was a backlash to the backlash, with others demanding that the song be played as usual, saying that this is a matter of political correctness run amok.
To be honest, when I read about this controversy, my first instinct was to agree with the latter perspective. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” offensive? Really? I’ve always loved that song.
Hell, it’s even been a Gap commercial featuring Selma Blair & Rainn Wilson (in a reversal of the usual roles).
Then I watched the Neptune’s Daughter video. I listened to a couple of renditions.
And I get it.
Do I think some people are being incredibly sensitive about this? Yes.
But you know, our culture has spent a lot of years being incredibly insensitive about this kind of stuff. We didn’t pay attention to offensive behavior by a lot of people. We didn’t pay attention to winks and smiles that went along with this behavior. We didn’t listen to victims, and we gave the benefit of the doubt to predators.
Times have changed.
Yes, people are being sensitive. They have every right, and if they want to tell radio stations that they think this song ought not be played on the airwaves, they should. Radio stations then can make their own judgements about whether they want to listen.
I would. After all, if people want to listen to any rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” they have options other than the radio. (There are dozens of versions available on iTunes.) Businesses ignore passionate customers at their own peril.
My personal opinion - it is incumbent on society to listen to the voices of people who used to be unheard or ignored, and to be sensitive in ways we never used to be. It doesn’t really hurt anyone, and it could help.
I am willing to have my Eyes-Opened, if only because it helps me see things differently than I my have in the past.
Nothing wrong with that. And there’s a lot right with it.
- KC's View: