What do you think about the controversy over the Christmas duet, Baby, It’s Cold Outside?
Me? I heartily agree with Jessica Goddard, writing for CBC News, who feels it’s “puritanical and absurd”. This just in: CBC is reinstating it based on audience input. I understand it’s still banned on both Bell Media and Rogers; it seems the ban is random among US radio stations as well.
Given the chill swirling around it like a colossal snowdrift, I was warmed by each note, each word of the song recently when it shockingly drifted from the sound system at my Rexall drugstore.
Perhaps I am desensitized by the pop songs I work out to at Jazzercise? The beats are tremendous – one must have good solid peppy beats to move that body to, yes? But, hmmm, sometimes the lyrics? I’ll be singing along into my mic sometimes as I teach, and truly, I must stop myself because . . . well, okay. I can’t sing. But there’s some very naughty stuff going on in these songs! (The artist Pitbull comes to mind. I love working out to his songs, but he is one rude dude!)
I guess the Baby, It’s Cold Outside lyrics causing a big stir in this #MeToo era are, “Say what’s in this drink?” In 1944, when the song was written by Frank Loesser, roofies weren’t a thing. “People used to say ‘what’s in this drink’ as a joke,” says Loesser’s daughter Susan in an NBC news article. “You know, this drink is going straight to my head so what’s in this drink? Back then it didn’t mean you drugged me.” And the other big bad line, I assume: “The answer is no.” But if you follow the whole song through, start to finish, you understand that the woman is struggling with her desire and the hit her reputation may take if she does, in fact, stay.
Compare the lyrics from this old classic to a duet called Timber by Kesha and Pitbull, 2013:
“I have ‘em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off
Twerking in their bras and thongs, timber
Face down, booty up, timber
That’s the way we like the what, timber
I’m slicker than an oil spill
She say she won’t, but I bet she will, timber”
Why “timber”? Because the refrain goes, “One more shot, another round”. So, we’re drinking and we’re wanting to get close, in both songs, but 70 years later? Way more drinking, way less clothing. And absolutely nothing left to the imagination. We’re honestly ticked about “the answer is no”, when Pitbull bragged a mere five years ago, “She say she won’t, but I bet she will”?
Shake That, by Samantha Jade and Pitbull, 2016:
“I wanna see you in your birthday suit
Mami, show me where your sweet little cake at
I wanna take a little nibble or maybe a full bite
And make it a full night”
So, the bras and thongs are off. “Take that”? A tad forceful, yeah? And I think we can all guess what “your sweet little cake” is, huh? Wink, nudge. Blush, maybe, when you realize about that “little nibble or maybe a full bite”?
Move to Miami, by Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull, 2018:
“This girl got me feelin’ risky
She ready for the taking”
“And if you look you’ll fall in love
She got that ass, she make it clap
She’ll leave you shook
And now you hooked
The way she dance
She gon’ make you move to Miami”
So, yet again, you get Pitbull’s MO, right? “She ready for the taking”. And she has an ass that claps!? Wow. Objectify women much?
I say if we gon’ take every word in every song so serious? There be a whole buncha songs dat should be comin’ offa da radio! I feel that applying #MeToo to a sweet little duet from another era is nuts when we seem to have trouble applying it to the era we’re in:
*note Pitbull & co song lyrics above (and there are many more examples by other artists – much worse! – out there)
*note that women – Kesha and Samantha Jade – willingly (I assume) sang along
*watch any music awards’ show and note the skimpiness of female singers’ outfits and their provocative moves
*the president of the US is still (sort of) running the country, still (unbelievably) has followers, some of them women, and he was caught on tape saying, “Grab ‘em by the pussy.”
I have a picture from Christmas, circa 1960, in which my mom and her sister pose beside the Christmas tree. Mom wears a dark green dress, her sister bright red. Their hair is coiffed, make-up done. Honestly, the women of that era? All class and sophistication.
It was also, yes, the era of Mad Men, so they dealt with a lot of crap too. But they did it while completely dressed in full sentences using proper English. Or? Perhaps like Joan Collins: “I just gave them a knee to the groin. It’s hardly suffering.”
Baby, it’s winter, so it is cold outside. Pour yourself an egg nog – and rum, if you’re of age, if you still drink, if you haven’t already had ten, if you’re not driving – and snuggle up by the fire with someone you care about, someone who cares about you. Maybe listen to some Christmas songs, or perhaps some old Beatles tunes, or Stones perhaps, but don’t take the lyrics to heart. (Getting Better and Under My Thumb quickly come to mind. Yikes. Every era has ‘em huh?)
And have yourself a Merry little Christmas now.