There’s always got to be some sort of politically correct Christmas controversy.
Just when we finally seem to have moved past the “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays” debate, the old battle against Frank Loesser’s 1940 “Baby, it’s cold outside,” has reared its head, with radio stations across the continent banning the song from their airwaves.
Scroo(ge) context – according to those in full agreement with the ban, the song is sexist and creepy, portraying the tale of a predatory man slipping roofies into a reluctant woman’s drink to get her into bed.
I’m all for a feminism, but this is every bit as much of a reach as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s rather misogynistic remarks about male construction workers.
When the song was released, it was actually quite progressive. It wasn’t OK for single women to stay over at a man’s house, much less unsupervised, so the song actually is about the woman’s desire to stay warring with the expectation of society that she must go.
The line that often arouses accusations of the song being a date-rap anthem, “Say, what’s in this drink?” was actually said in a lot of movies at the time as a joke. The understanding was nothing was ever in the drink – but putting the blame on alcohol allowed a woman to neglect what was expected of her and instead do what she really wanted to do.
In other words, the so-called anti-feminist song is actually quite feminist.
Still, CBC, Bell, Rogers and other stations have decided to cave to a certain point of view on the song.
“Song lyrics are always open to interpretation and we fully acknowledge there are two camps regarding this issue,” said Chuck Thompson, CBC public affairs head.
“While we consider both points of view, and in light of the times we are living in, we have chosen to remove the song, for the time being, from our holiday music streams.”
Obviously, criticism of the song isn’t anything new. I’ve seen many people online and in real life complain about it, but I normally keep my thoughts to myself because people are entitled to interpret things as they like, and love or hate certain songs for whatever reason.
My problem with the ban, however, is that despite what radio companies are saying about respecting both “camps,” by following through with a ban, you’re catering to one group and basically dictating the song should be interpreted the way that group interprets it.
The irony is no one’s banning Meghan Trainor’s “All About that Bass” or “Dear Future Husband” for blatant anti-feminist messaging. No one’s banning “Santa, baby,” or “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus” – both of those can be interpreted in ways that are disturbing for children, and send less-than positive messages.
After all, if you’re going to be politically correct about a Christmas song, you better get politically correct about every song on the radio.
Further, if the song is being labelled as bad “at this time,” does that mean that one particular negative interpretation will suddenly not be important next year? If that’s the case, why bother banning it at all?
If we must ban a song, why not make it “Grandma got run over by a reindeer,” – my personal least favourite.
There is no context, or background beyond the song itself – it’s just a straight-up tale of a grandma getting murdered by one of Santa’s sleigh drivers. No one even cares about grandma – they let her walk home by herself – the reindeer or justice – they’re only concerned whether to open and keep her gifts for their greedy little selves or send them back. But it’s OK, because they believe in Santa because Grandma was killed by a reindeer.
I’m sure there are plenty of other songs that should be banned, too, but “Baby it’s cold outside,” should stay.