Don’t let revisionist social activists ruin our enjoyment while ignoring the facts behind this classic.
While probably not part of the ever-rumored “War On Christmas” the way that leftist social scolds have been in overdrive this holiday season you are forgiven for suspecting it is the case. These cultural hall monitors have lately been working diligently to find outrage in many of our traditional offerings.
The Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special has been called racist, for having a black character seated alone on one side of a table. The Rankin & Bass stop-motion favorite “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” is deemed unwatchable for depictions of bullying towards the titular caribou. And yes, once again, we had to endure the now annual outrage at the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside”.
This year the scolds were in full enough throat that the song was actually pulled from the playlist of radio stations both here and in Canada. The maddening aspect is twofold, as it is not only the intolerance on display but the ignorance. These are people where turning a dial or pressing a button is too much to ask, yet they are inspired to write emails, text station managers, and/or craft FaceBook posts to endeavor squelching artistic expression.
The complaint is that the crux of the song involves a man urgently trying to compel a woman to remain with him and spend the night. The term “date rape” is often affixed, with the lesser charge being the man is at least being predatory in his over-insistence his target female remain. The leap in logic here is not unexpected in this era where some are trying desperately to reconfigure our social interactions, with everything from mutual consent dating forms and charges of “rape” for merely looking at a woman.
The dire song in question has a lengthy history and it is one where traditional interactions between men and women rise to the forefront. Rather than the musical fantasy of a lascivious letcher the tune was crafted by a husband and wife composing team. Frank Loesser and Lynn Garland wrote the song in 1944 as an item to be performed at social gatherings with other entertainers, for which they became renown in social circles.
Can you feel the gender toxicity? Consider; people calling themselves progressive are feeling tremors today over a song from the 1940s performed at dinner parties. Well, the accusation will only continue to unravel.
In 1948 the song was put to use at MGM studios for the movie “Neptune’s Daughter”. Ironically, in a detail to be lost on the outrage artists of today, Loesser included the song in the musical as a replacement, because another one of his compositions was declared inappropriate. This “offensive” tune went on to win the Academy Award for Best Song in 1949. Its popularity was such that a flood of artists recorded the song and that year four versions of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” made the Billboard Top-20.
Lost in the outrage is the way the song was intended and featured, as a courtship dance in a far more innocent era than today. In “Neptune’s Daughter” it was actually used in two scenes, with two different couples, and this is where those who are in a snit lose all venom. The first scene involves Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban during a playful, flirtatious interlude. He pleads, she demures, and they go back and forth in the teasing exchange of overlapping banter.
In the second scene Red Skelton and Betty Garrett share the duet, but with a stark and significant twist. As they sing Skelton is imploring his date, but he bids that it is he who needs to leave, not to stay. She takes the insistent stance that it is too cold and therefore he must remain. Those opposing the supposedly chauvinistically aggressive position of the song will be borderline shocked by what they see.
Not only do we watch a female all but demanding he remain, but the scene culminates with Garrett looping an arm into Skelton’s coat and then flipping him over onto a sofa. (Yes, she pounces!) Of the four people we witness interacting in these scenes Garrett’s is by far the most predatory, if we are to judge fairly.
But judging is the entire problem. We cannot have classic representations. We cannot abide standards that are decades old or generations removed. The desire to remove any and all content from the past that conflicts with the delicate contemporary sensibilities is childish.
Following its decision to pull “Baby It’s Cold Outside” from its playlist, Cleveland radio station WDOK conducted a poll of its listeners. The overwhelming majority – roughly 90% – supported the song, and it returned. Even in the far more liberal enclave of San Francisco a similar event played out, where station KOIT initially stopped playing the song, and respondents called for its return by a better than 3/1 margin.
This is the way to answer these cranks. If they are so fragile that hearing a 70 year old flirtatious duet renders them, and they are too weakened to change the channel, then they have proven themselves as someone whose opinion need not be taken seriously.
When it comes to their brainpan, maybe it is empty inside.