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‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ spreads the opposite of holiday cheer

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‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ spreads the opposite of holiday cheer

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Image labeled for reuse by USA today

Lily Kane ’20

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As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, one thing that helps me get through the harsh winter season is the promise of uplifting and joyful holiday music. Whether it’s Justin Bieber singing about his adventures under the mistletoe or Bing Crosby belting out a ballad about a picturesque white Christmas, holiday music almost never fails to put a smile on my face. And while the catchy tune of Frank Loesser’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” is one for the ages, in the past few years it has been hard to overlook the underlying––perhaps immoral––themes portrayed in the music.

The song, performed as a duet between a man and a woman, was first written to be a song performed by Loesser and his wife at a party, portraying nothing more than an innocent banter between a husband and wife. But, as years passed, the song has evolved to show an arguably nonconsensual date. While the original idea seems innocent enough, some of the lines are extremely questionable.

For example, the girl questions the man by saying, “say what’s in this drink?” perhaps implying he has put some sort of drug in it. As the man shrugs it off, the girl persists in resisting  his advances, singing, “I ought to say no, no, no sir,” and with no regards to this complaint, the man simply sings, “mind if I move in closer?” He even tries to make her feel guilty for refusing him by saying, “what’s the sense in hurting my pride?”

These are just a few of the many controversial lyrics. After listening to the offensive words, it is difficult  to understand how this acclaimed song has been played for so long. It is unbelievable that it has been remade by so many different artists without anybody addressing the inappropriate themes.

Although the lyrics could be attributed to the era in which the song was written,  that shouldn’t excuse the clear implication of rape or harassment. When the song was first written, women were slut-shamed and judged often for any seemingly riskye activities. Playing ‘hard to get’ was commonly seen as what women should be doing, as opposed to openly working acknowledging their sexual desires. But as the times change, women are more empowered, and this age-old preconception has been disproven.

With the emphasis on the #metoo movement and the horrors of the industry of Hollywood coming to light, the song itself is dancing on a thin line between acceptable and not. How can this song, a song whose lyrics when taken at face-value are about a girl not being able to say no, be played on the radio over and over again, for all the world to hear? While people may argue that the song portrays nothing more than a girl playing hard-to-get, in today’s day and age, the line has simply become too thin.

It does seem Scrooge-like that this classic holiday song, once thought as of romantic and playful, has become a reminder of the gruesome secrets of Hollywood and public figures. But the positives of this song definitely do not outweigh the negatives. Children should be hearing the joyful tunes of “Jingle Bells” and “Let It Snow,” and not the predatorial themes of drugging and harassment.

So, how do we fix this? The song itself is so ingrained in American culture; it appears on almost every “Best Christmas Songs” playlist. Perhaps some songwriter or pop artist will finally put an end to the controversy and simply rewrite the song. The gist of the song is cute, but the controversial lyrics are distasteful and inappropriate. Therefore, a rewrite could freshen it up and give it the change it needs.

The words and phrases alluding to harassment and rape could be changed to something more light-hearted, and the song could be used to exemplify a theme of holiday love and cheer as opposed to “no doesn’t necessarily mean no.” If such a rendition were to become popular and radio stations were willing to take a risk on a rewrite, a new and improved version could easily become a success.

The goal of this song, in the end, is to spread good, clean holiday cheer, despite the issues it inadvertently puts forth. I never want to take that away from listeners, but I think the ignorance about the song’s underlying themes has gone on too long, meaning a change is necessary.

A rewrite would protect the spirit of Christmas while also protecting its innocence.

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ spreads the opposite of holiday cheer”

  1. Jen Gross on January 3rd, 2019 10:38 am

    Lily, your piece is very thoughtful and I really like that you take a practical approach and offer mote than just the usual opposing options regarding this controversy: play it as is, or ban it. Well done! Jen Gross

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‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ spreads the opposite of holiday cheer