It’s been a few days since I posted anything here on this fledgling blog but life has happened and work has been extra tiring. The diarrhoea-like river of excrement that is the news continues to flow in the meantime however and the number of “stories” (let’s not give them too much credibility) that I’d like to analyse has began to back up like a blocked toilet clogged with an ever-increasing volume of the nasty brown stuff.
Unsavoury metaphors aside, one of the more dumb stories that cropped up on my radar was that of an American radio station electing to pull the Christmas song “Baby it’s Cold Outside” from their playlist due to an apparent unsuitability in today’s hyper-sensitive #metoo landscape. Other Christmas songs that were written/performed in the past have now been put under the microscope and over-analysed by those who are determined to play dot-to-dot and create those tenuous links and daft interpretations from songs that are products of their time.
I do want to quickly point out that this is another of those stories that the media love to publish in order to wind up a certain demographic and get them to keep clicking away or buying newspapers. I know this and I suppose that giving this shit even more exposure by talking about it is a bit hypocritical but I feel like looking at the facts and quotes from these headlines and applying some proper logic to them.
Let’s start with the Christmas song that has stirred up the keyboard warriors and Twitter superstars the most shall we? For decades, there was nothing and suddenly “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” is one of the great evils of the music world; a song that apparently tells the story of a man pressuring a woman into sex. As quoted from the BBC’s website:
In particular, the line “Say what’s in this drink?/No cabs to be had out there” has led people to make a link with date rape.
So this is also (apparently) a song about date rape and drugged alcoholic drinks. The problem with this above quote is that phrase “led people to make a link”. We can make links between anything and everything if we wanted to. This is a simple case of people taking a product of the past out of its time and complaining that it doesn’t conform to modern expectations which – honestly – can be done with anything at all from history. What next? Does “Driving Home for Christmas” suggest an irresponsible decision to drive in dangerous, wintry conditions? Does any Christmas song to do with Santa condone lying to your children? Loose comparisons I know but seriously.
How about this: listen to a classic Christmas song and just take it for what it is. When did every single thing need to be looked at it minute detail and constantly reviewed every few years to see if it remains “acceptable”? Any such analysis that includes phrases such as “seems to suggest…” or “could be interpreted as…” is automatically bullshit of the highest order in my book. Far-fetched conclusions being conjured up in the minds of those who simply MUST find something to be offended about. Unless of course I’m talking out of my ass and hearing a song like Baby, it’s Cold Outside IS slowly warping my brain and installing a subconscious instruction to lure females in from the cold so that I can rape them. See how stupid it sounds? I believe that there are three reasons why a story like this even becomes a (undeserving) ‘thing’ in the first place:
- The fear of offending people. Weak, easily bowed people decide that it is safer to remove material deemed potentially offensive before anybody can make some crazy links and bring negative press down on the organisation.
- Virtue signalling. Loudly and proudly condemning something that COULD be deemed offensive in the minds of a small minority in order to become the white knight and latest champion of the #metoo or similar movements.
- The social media echo chamber. A few people think that they are hot shit for ‘discovering’ something they believe could possibly be offensive or disempowering. Others re-tweet and show their support (from the safe anonymity of their keyboard/smartphone screen) subsconsciously feeling that they are being fashionable by doing so.
I am always open to be proven wrong or have my view changed by solid facts. Not interpretations, not theories and not suggestions. Just concrete facts, figures and evidence. That said, I feel extremely confident when I say that I do not, for a second, believe that when Frank Loesser wrote the song in 1944, there was the intention to promote rape. There is nothing to say that the male in the song intends to force himself on the female if she continues to refuse his advances. There is nothing wrong with suggestion or displaying amorous feelings to somebody of the opposite sex in a private situation if the other party seems like they could be up for it. That’s how we actually get somewhere in our love/sex lives. Of course, should Person B firmly refuse then Person A must repect their decision.
If this song is guilty of anything then maybe – at a push – it is a guy ignoring a girl’s soft rejections and continuing to try his luck, edging closer and closer to that grey area where natural, lusty advances become coercion and potentially rape. But I don’t hear that. I hear a playful, slightly sexy song that is probably just being a bit naughty. You aren’t supposed to rip it apart and publish an enormous thesis on how it condones this and that. Perhaps the critics ought to take a look a little closer to home because modern lyrics have been glorifying far worse in a much bolder manner for some time now. If anything is going to be a threat to an easily impressionable younger generation then it might be the stuff that they – y’know – actually listen to?
I was shocked to read (when doing a quick bit of research) that this song has been the subject of much debate and criticism for more than a decade. Conveniently in the month(s) of December of course because it’s such an issue that nobody cares once it’s no longer Christmas and the song doesn’t have to be aired anyway. My point being that there have been many, many other analysis’ and discussions about Baby, it’s Cold Outside and the perceived implications of its lyrics written with greater finesse than mine. These are just my rough and raw thoughts on the subject. I listen to the song and don’t hear what some people are condemning. Maybe that makes me a lesser person for not trying to hear beyond the surface but guess what? I don’t really give a fuck.
Another song that was criticised (amongst several) was Band Aid’s “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” for apparently enforcing an image that Africa is a needy continent reliant on the handouts of more developed Western states in order to survive. Bob Geldof’s answer to the critics was “It’s a pop song, not a doctoral thesis”. Well said, Bob. We are constantly made to feel guilty by charity ad campaigns and asked to donate money to causes in third-world countries where people are legitimately dying from poor sanitation and the wars of others but it seems that doing the decent thing and helping is also allegedly demeaning. Putting aside the fact that terrible sanitation, terrorism and constant uncivilised warring ARE factual blights on many innocent Africans, this bizarre logic of being incorrect whatever we do/think can fuck right off. Another prime example of desperately looking for offence where there isn’t any and keyboard warriors eager to seek out a vaporous injustice.
In summary: stop fucking reading too much into songs and presuming that your personal interpretations are the correct interpretations of everybody because they aren’t.