‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’: Censored
“As the world evolves in the wake of #MeToo, there will be cultural casualties,” said Libby Hill in the Los Angeles Times. In recent weeks, radio stations in San Francisco, Cleveland, and Canada have yanked “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from the airwaves. The 1944 duet by Guys and Dolls composer Frank Loesser is a longtime holiday staple, “a coy and sexy” dialogue between a woman and a man who’ve ended a date at his apartment. The woman in the song looks for excuses to leave, while the man keeps pushing her to stay in language “uncomfortably similar to that used in acquaintance rape, where a soft no is always interpreted as a yes.” When she says, “I ought to say, ‘No, no, no, sir,’” he fires back, “Mind if I move in closer?” In one especially cringeworthy lyric, the woman asks, “Say, what’s in this drink?” That might have been funny 70 years ago, but it’s not today.
You should try really listening to the lyrics, said Chris Willman in Variety.com. “‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ was actually a witty, ahead-of-its-time avowal of women owning their own sexual agency.” The woman clearly wants to stay, but expresses concern about what her family and friends will think about her. As for “what’s in this drink,” said Emma Teitel in the Toronto Star (Canada), it was a common saying in the 1940s, referring to the idea that alcohol was “making” a person say or do something that they ordinarily wouldn’t. The drink, in other words, isn’t being used by the man to render the woman defenseless; she is the one using it—as an excuse to flout convention.
All the same, “I’d be fine if I never heard the song again,” said Renée Graham in The Boston Globe. Times change, and it doesn’t matter what the song meant when it was released. “Now it makes me say, ‘You in danger, girl.’” Let’s not overthink this, said Katy Guest in The Guardian. Many songs have “creepy” lyrics if you examine them by modern standards. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is horribly bullied, which some people could find “triggering.” Dozens of innocent birds are senselessly massacred for the “12 Days of Christmas.” Santa Claus is “making a list and checking it twice,” which sounds like mass surveillance. C’mon: “Christmas is a time to stop overanalyzing and take some things at face value.”