“Baby It’s Cold Outside,” America’s most controversial Christmas song that isn’t even about Christmas, is back on the air in San Francisco after a station that banned it reversed course following listener complaints.
As MSN reports, San Francisco station KOIT-FM is one of the hundreds of radio stations across the country that is playing all holiday music, all the time, for this time of year. As such, 1944’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” which, like “Jingle Bells” and “Winter Wonderland” and countless others are about winter but not Christmas, had been on the rotation.
That is until some listeners complained that the song was inappropriate in this day and age (more on that in a moment). The station’s management put the song on hiatus until further notice, generating even more complaints, and then brought it back, says KOIT Program Director Brian Figula explains.
“After hearing from thousands of Bay Area listeners via polling, phone calls, emails and social media, KOIT has concluded that the vast majority consider the song to be a valuable part of their holiday tradition, and they still want to hear it on the radio.”
Wait, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” Is Offensive? How?
The 1944 tune, written by Guys & Dolls author Frank Loesser, is essentially a conversation between a man and a woman. The woman, apparently at the end of a date, would like to go home, while the man would like her to stay. Seems innocent enough, right?
The Anti Argument
The woman clearly wants to leave the date – or at least, she pretends to (more on that in another paragraph), while the man pressures her, using arguments that seem to come from a man who is, shall we say, enthusiastic about her staying the night (“how could you do this thing to me?”). One line even appears to allude to plying his date with alcohol to keep her there (“say, what’s in this drink?”).
Long story short, to some modern audiences the song sounds like a paean to date rape. Or at the very least, a man pressuring a woman into staying the night when she doesn’t want to – unacceptable in the era of the #MeToo movement.
The Pro Argument
All things in context, say the song’s supporters. The woman’s protestations have nothing to do with her not wanting to stay; she actually does want to stay, but she’s held back because of society’s expectations (“my maiden aunt’s mind is vicious”). In other words, it’s actually about female empowerment; viz, a woman wanting to exercise her sexual agency in light of a patriarchal society. And the man wasn’t trying to roofie her or get her drunk; at the time, “what’s in this drink” could have just as easily mean that she wanted more booze, according to the Daily Caller.
Is This Really That Big Of A Deal?
Yes. No. Depends on whom you ask.
But it bears noting that KOIT isn’t the only station to have nixed the controversial song. Stations in Denver and Cleveland have also removed the song from their rotations, and Canada’s CBC Radio has also pulled the song from its holiday playlists.