Old classics in a new time

So by now, you’ve probably heard that many radio stations are pulling that old chestnut Baby It’s Cold Outside from the airwaves.

Now my first reaction on hearing this was that it’s political correctness run amok. It’s an old Christmas classic. Times were different then and that’s that. Now the choice of some radio stations to ban this song has nothing to do with the so-called War on Christmas, which is a made up war that doesn’t exist.

But taking a closer look at the lyrics of Baby It’s Cold Outside, it’s pretty easy to see why some might be offended as the song is basically a story about a man who will not take no for an answer set to music.

“Say what’s in this drink?” says the female singer. No, the male singer does not answer “a roofie” but he does croon that there are no cabs available. Shortly after she asks what’s in the drink, he sings that her eyes are like starlight now. Which one could interpret as meaning whatever he put in her drink worked.

She sings, “I ought to say no, no, no sir.”

He replies, “Mind if I move closer?”

She calls him pushy. He replies “opportunistic”.

And the happy ending is that she finally agrees to stay for another drink, despite her concerns.

So yeah. That’s a problematic theme in a song. And yes, in today’s climate, it’s message is, and should be, offensive to everyone.

It’s a wonder Canada’s King of Bland, Michael Bublé didn’t get the vapours while singing it.

But it’s certainly not the only song that can be labelled offensive to women.

How about A Man Needs a Maid by Neil Young, which includes the lyrics “keep my house clean, fix my meals and go away”.

Eminem made his career on misogyny, especially his rants against ex-wife Kim, and he’s still played.

And the Police classic, “Every Breath You Take”. It’s a song about a stalker. Every breath you take, every move you make, I’ll be watching you? That is in no way romantic. That’s just creepy. And still heard on popular radio.

And then there’s the Canadian classic by Nickelback, “Follow You Home”. “You can slap me in the face. You can scream profanity. Leave me here to die alone, but I’ll still follow you home” I mean every Nickelback song should be pulled from the airways if you want my honest opinion, because.. have you heard them? But still that’s a creepy song.

Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, which many insisted promoted non-consent in a much more blatant way than Baby It’s Cold Outside does, was a huge hit in 2013. It may have caused some controversy, but it was still played, and played often.

And for years rap music has been a morass of misogyny.

Baby It’s Cold Outside was written in 1944, when female equality was barely in its infancy. And I would argue it was not the intent of the composer, Frank Loesser, to create a song about an intended crime.

The point I’m making here is that music is littered with offensive lyrics, much like our history is littered with people whose actions don’t stand up to scrutiny now.

But once we have removed all the statues, banned all the music because it might offend, pulled all the books with offensive messages from the shelves, what do we have left?



carolyn.grant@kimberleybulletin.com

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