At the risk of being pegged a deviant I’m admitting I like the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
While I don’t understand exactly how the 1944 song came to be considered a Christmas classic given there is no reference whatsoever to the holiday — for the record it doesn’t snow in Bethlehem — it always struck me as a somewhat jovial tune in terms of lyrics and music.
In the year 2018, however, some are not amused. They contend it is an ode to date rape and coercion. That sentiment may shock the song’s composer — the late Frank Loesser who wrote it so he and his wife Lynn Garland could perform it at parties. It also would be a complete affront to those who wildly embraced it in 1949 when it won an Academy Award for the best original song as part of the movie “Neptune’s Daughter.” This was back in an era if two thirds of what appears on the big screen — or the small screen for that matter — today was to have appeared then the producers would have been jailed and it would have been condemned universally by political leaders coast-to-coast.
But this is 2018 when history is rewritten to accommodate the dictates of those that believe their experiences and belief system and how they color the world are not the only ones that matter but they are the only ones that should be allowed.
Given that’s the case, let’s judge “Baby It’s Cold Outside” against the lyrics of your typical rap song that describes the interactions of males and females.
The male lyrics for “Baby It’s Cold Outside” don’t refer to the female counterpart as a whore, something that he owns and can do with what he wishes or uses vulgarities to describe parts of a woman’s body. Whoops, my bad. Such music is defended as being the equivalent of flirting today in some quarters although most of those that insist that is the case happen to be males.
That aside let’s give the morality police their due that have successfully pressured some radio stations to yank “Baby It’s Cold Outside” from their playlists. Let’s assume what was once considered harmless flirting in the 1940s — an era when 85 million people died in and out of uniform during mankind’s most uncivilized undertaking ever in the form of World War II — qualifies as a ballad for date rape today. It begs the question why it has taken this long for the song to be unmasked as a song supposedly embracing date rape?
Could it be the outgrowth of mob mentality reading what they want into everything they see, read and hear and then grabbing pitchforks and flaming torches to purify the world? Amazing how it comes across as the moral equivalent of the Salem Witch Hunts.
Then there’s the question about the reference to the vilified vice — “maybe just a cigarette more.” How the Surgeon General has not banned the song for promoting dangerous practices is beyond me.
Some of the radio stations felt compelled to ban the song even after they conducted online polls that all showed between 77 and 95 percent were less than happy with it getting the same treatment as “Ulysses” by James Joyce after the thought police read what they wanted between the lines. The fact there were no threats of boycotting the station or its advertisers should give you less comfort.
Radio stations act just like other commercial enterprises that simply do not fold in light of pressure to “conform” to a perceived standard of righteousness but when it complies with the narrative of whatever those seen as progressives embrace.
If radio stations are going to play the game and cleanse their playlists of music that some may read as being a celebration or coercion or glorifying date rape, they’d better start snapping up the rights to play Gregorian chants.
There are a lot of songs that could be yanked for perceived slights to someone. Carly Simon’s ode to Warren Beatty dubbed “You’re So Vain” contains the line “you had me several years ago when I was still quite naive” may sound like music to the ears of Harvey Weinstein.
The list of possibly offensive songs suitable for banning are vast given those that could be opened to interpretation from the slight du jour crowd are endless.
So why try to get “Baby It’s Cold Outside” banned now? The answer lies with two forces merging — our unbridled use of social media to essentially yell “fire” on the crowded Internet and movements such a #MeToo being give extended shelf life and magnification by social media.
That’s not meant to imply there isn’t a lot of legitimacy to the #MeToo movement. But when legitimate causes overshoot the runway and even its more sensible advocates embrace the notion that collateral damage and smearing those that are innocent is OK because it’s all part of an effort to right wrongs you don’t exactly occupy the moral high ground.
If you believe stations that have the audacity to play “Baby It’s Cold Outside” at Christmas are embracing date rape, then change the channel. One would assume you’d do the same thing with a rap station that played music that is extremely less subtle. Come to think of it we’re not really hearing a lot of cry and hue from those on the fringe of the #MeToo movement when it comes to rap music.
While not all rap music promotes violence and sexual behavior unbecoming of a gentleman, it’s safe to say it is the music genre that leads the pack in such instances.
It’s doubtful that impressionable, hormone-driven, and unscrupulous teen boys, 20 something single guys, or “older swine” listen to stations playing “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. Why not go after the targets that could reduce the potential for sexual coercion when it comes to playing certain songs? Unless I’m missing something, San Francisco 96.5 KOIT isn’t a rap station.
KOIT, to its credit, after it yanked “Baby It’s Cold Outside” when it received more than 100 complaints, restored the classic to its Christmas playlist after it conducted an online poll that showed 77 percent of 22,000 online voters wanted the song played.
While similar radio station polls drew similar mass responses, they reported 90 to 95 percent wanted the song played.
That should tell you something when arguably the most politically correct major city on the planet, San Francisco, has a poll that shows 77 percent of the people think essentially banning “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is severe overreach based on the assumption it somehow promotes date rape.
It might have been different if the reason to boycott the song was over the words “maybe just a cigarette more”.
Loesser is lucky he chose to infer that the man was serving the woman an alcoholic drink. Had it been a soda, not only would San Francisco have permanently banned “Baby It’s Cold Outside” but the San Francisco Board of Supervisors would have voted to go after his estate for promoting obesity via sugar-laden soda.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.