Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and prepare to be offended.
I’m a tolerant guy, and I sympathize with the feelings of others. But when we reach a certain level of stupidity and demands demonstrate ignorance, well at that point I have to call it as I see it. And I see it as . . . PC Insanity.
If you don’t already know how much I dislike the PC culture/Social Justice Warriors, you can listen here.
So, you’ve been warned . . . Let’s dive in.
This holiday season a few radio stations have pulled the song, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” from their playlist rotation. The action gained what it intended. A ridiculous social justice debate over the appropriateness of the song’s content.
I’ll get into the “offensive” language in a moment, but first, a reminder as to the purpose of art. A purpose the overly sensitive have either forgotten or never learned.
Art is often offensive. Its purpose is to reflect our culture—the good and the bad.
Sometimes the artist points to the beauty of our world, and sometimes the art serves as a mechanism for change by spotlighting the ugliness. And sometimes it’s just about entertainment.
Recently, I watched the 1950’s film version of “12 Angry Men.” The movie, about a jury of white men deciding the fate of a young black man accused of murder, demonstrates the negative impact of ignorance and racism on the justice system.
By modern standards, several of the characters’ viewpoints might seem offensive. No one would publicly make such gross and prejudicial statements today.
If you didn’t understand the culture of the 50’s or the film’s purpose. you might think, “why on earth do they still show this movie?”
The same might be said for Quentin Tarantino’s 2015 film, “The Hateful Eight.” It’s filled with violence against women, and they drop the “N-word” every other line. But as a reflection of the culture of the late 1800s, the movie is pretty much spot on.
The purpose of art is to create an emotional reaction. Whether it is as high-minded as 12 Angry Men or as visceral as The Hateful Eight, depends on the artist’s purpose.
Films are mild compared to musical lyrics.
Here’s an example from Soulja Boy’s song, “Pimp Slap Dat Hoe”:
If you dp something wrong then my hand gon meet yo face
My hand comin fast bout a hundred miles per hour
Gettin hit in yo face while you bathin in the shower
It’s art, so I give its author the benefit of the doubt. I believe the intention is to call attention to bad behavior. To hear it in a way that makes people wake up and make changes to the culture or to their own behavior.
In the same way that viewers of 12 Angry Men might have recognized the depth and impact of their own racism. Perhaps after that film, some white jurors approached their trial analysis with greater fairness.
The point is this:
As difficult as it may be to see, hear or even discuss things we find offensive, trying to ban these things demonstrates a much higher level of ignorance.
Which brings us to the 1940’s holiday classic, “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
Why all the commotion over a song from the ’40s?
Protestors feel the song promotes predatory male behavior and rape.
If you’re not familiar with any of the hundreds of versions of the song, the basic premise is this:
It’s snowing outside. The girl at the party says she should go home. The guy at the party tries to convince her to stay because, well, baby it’s cold outside.
The song is a conversation performed as a duet. A back and forth between the two. She sings a line, and he responds.
The controversy is over the belief that:
a) he won’t let her leave and b) that he has “spiked” her drink.
The latter deduced from the line in which the female asks, “what’s in this drink?”
Based on those two points, some folks believe the song is inappropriate.
The “evidence” in this case is wrong, misguided, and frankly foolish.
The idea that the song is about rape or a #metoo moment demonstrates the complete ignorance of those who would have it “banned.”
Here are all the reasons why:
Let’s deal with and dismiss the most simple of the premises:
Her drink is drugged.
Is it possible that in the 1940s there were date-rape drugs?
Well, there was the Mickey Finn – a drug that “came to fame” when it was used by bartenders and wait staff as revenge against poor tippers.
Being slipped a Mickey resulted in vomiting and sometimes death, so not real popular with those on the predatory dating circuit.
As for the most common (and famous) of date-rape drugs, “the rufie” and “liquid ecstasy”(GHB), it is impossible that the lyrics could reference either.
Neither GHB nor the “Rufie” was synthesized until the 1960s (GHB), and 1970’s (Rufie) and the Rufie is still illegal in the US.
So, what does the female singer mean when she asks, “What’s in this drink?”
Alcohol reduces our inhibitions. It’s also a great excuse to do things we believe we ought not to do. In fact, music and film often celebrate the freedom from inhibition that alcohol provides.
Is that a far-fetched theory as to the meaning of the singer’s question?
Not if you spend just a little time researching and understanding society’s mores from the song’s time-period.
Women were expected to behave “appropriately.”
There was no tolerance for women who engaged in “sport fucking” or any other pre-marital sex.
A “good girl” certainly wouldn’t “stay out late.” I mean, good lord, “what will people think?”
In the song, the female voice lists all the people “waiting” at home for her and how “worried” they will be if she is late.
She’s not listing them as a “don’t rape me” warning. In fact, it sounds more like she’s lamenting the fact that she can’t stay.
She’s listing reasons to go, but she’s not going. She is not worried about her “date” she’s concerned about what people will think if she stays.
“What’s in this drink?”
Well, she either means the drink is why she’s even considering staying, or she is setting up an acceptable excuse (in her own mind) if she does stay.
In other words, like many of us have done, she fully plans to blame the alcohol for something she wants to do but knows she shouldn’t do.
People ignorant to the societal bonds placed on women for centuries, can’t see the song for its meaning—she wants to be naughty, and he’s giving her a whole list of excuses to be just that.
Consider how ridiculous it is that a woman who wants to spend an evening with a man can’t because “that’s not what good girls do.”
That’s the nostalgia embedded in a song like “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
What should make folks angry is the ole double standard — not some made up intention of the song’s message. (actually it’s an old song, nothing about it should make you angry)
It’s important to mention that the female and male parts of the song each appeared in the score.
The female voice was identified as the “mouse,” and the male voice was identified as the “wolf.”
Before you say “ah-ha” there is the evidence it is a predatory song! Consider the time of the writing (the 40’s), the culture (good girls don’t), and what he wants her to do (stay at the party).
He is the wolf because he’s leading a “good girl” astray . . . But he’s not raping her.
She is listing reasons to go, and he’s giving her rationalizations to stay.
Is that “rapey?”
It is if he blocks the door. It is if he grabs her. It is if he used threats or violence or position or power to detain her.
None of that is happening in the song. None of that is the unspoken outcome of the song.
Is he trying to charm the pants off of her?
Figuratively most certainly. Literally, I doubt that was the underscore of a song written in the 40s.
How can I know for sure?
I can only imagine that the husband and wife team (The Loesser’s) who wrote and performed it, probably weren’t writing a rape song.
And I doubt Lady GaGa who sang “Born this Way” would perform a remake if the song detracted from women’s power to choose.
Still, many artists do lament the lyrics they wrote. (I doubt the Loesser’s would)
Over time they look back and see that what was “okay” at the time, now seems wrong.
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones changed some of his lyrics because he realized it wasn’t appropriate to sleep with 15-year-old girls.
Kati Perry regrets the stereotypes, generalizations, and insensitivity in her hit song, “I Kissed a Girl.”
Snoop Dogg doesn’t regret anything because he’s too high to remember what he sang.
The point is that art and especially music always reflects the culture of its time. We learn we grow, we change our opinions, and that’s all good.
But to erase, censor, or ban the past because we either don’t understand it or don’t like it—that’s ignorance, it’s intolerance, and to quote the famous:
If we don’t learn history, we are doomed to repeat it.
So why this song and not Beyonce’s Crazy in Love?
Beyonce’s song is obviously about a woman so taken by a man she’s lost all sense of self.
Isn’t that a terrible message for young girls? Should we pull that from radio play?
Why one and not the other?
The answer is simple—“Baby It’s Cold Outside” is a Christmas song.
That makes it fair game. Social Justice Warriors aren’t fans of religion and are especially not fans of Christians. Yes, that’s a big generalization but I”ll stand by it.
Remember they had us convinced that it was inappropriate and insensitive to wish anyone a “Merry Christmas.”
So, it’s not that they believe the song is inappropriate—they think the holiday it represents is inappropriate.
There is a lot of injustice that needs our attention.
Some important fights to fight and some critical conversations to have.
Banning a flirtatious holiday song from the past is a foolish waste of energy.
I mean what’s next?
Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer?