Baby, It’s Stupid Out There
Time to put aside our political differences and start squabbling about things that really matter.
Like the 1964 animated movie, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and the flirtatious 1944 song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
Frankly, I don’t care about Rudolph. I only mention it because last week The Huffington Post promoted a short video shredding the beloved children’s classic. The irony-impaired HuffPo accused the film of bullying and sexism.
I just can’t with these people.
So scrap it. Who cares? There’s always “A Charlie Brown Christmas” for those itching for a holiday cartoon. Until the social justice warriors find something wrong with that, too.
But that song? That wonderful call-and-response duet? That’s been sung by everyone from Ray Charles and Betty Carter to Norah Jones and Willie Nelson?
Keep your politically correct mitts off “Baby, It’s Cold outside.”
It’s playful. It’s romantic. It’s a doggone love song. It’s so much better than most of the music that gets played in an endless Christmas loop this time of year. Even though the lyrics never mention Christmas.
More importantly, I like it. So do lots of others.
Perhaps you heard. A Cleveland radio station pulled “Baby” from its Christmas playlist last week after some lemon-sucking listener griped about it.
Then a rape crisis center spokeswoman jumped in to cheer that boneheaded decision:
“It really pushed the line of consent,” Cleveland Rape Crisis Center President and CEO Sondra Miller told a Cleveland TV station. “The character in the song is saying ‘no,’ and they're saying well, ‘Does no really mean yes?’ And I think in 2018 what we know is consent is ‘yes’ and if you get a ‘no,’ it means ‘no’ and you should stop right there.”
Um, does Ms. Miller know this is just a song?
Just as Billie Joe McAllister didn’t really jump off the Tallahatchie Bridge and Bob Marley didn’t really shoot the sheriff, this playful seduction didn’t happen.
It’s a freaking SONG. That’s all.
That didn’t stop the Canadian Broadcasting Company from jumping on the #MeTooSerious bandwagon. Then a Bay Area radio station in California did the same. A Denver radio station also scrapped the song, but reinstated it after taking a Facebook poll of listeners.
“We value the opinion of all our listeners and appreciate the feedback we received,” said KOSI 101.1 Program Director, Jim Lawson, in a media release. “Respondents voted 95 percent in favor of us keeping the song. While we are sensitive to those who may be upset by some of the lyrics, the majority of our listeners have expressed their interpretation of the song to be non-offensive.”
“Baby, It’s Cold outside” was written in 1944 by songwriter Frank Loesser and was originally a lighthearted number he and his wife performed at parties. Then Loesser sold the song to MGM for 1949’s “Neptune’s Daughter,” a movie most of us haven’t seen. The song won an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, by the way.
From what I gather from the film’s trailer, it was an Esther Williams vehicle. A madcap romantic comedy starring the comely swimming sensation, Ricardo Montalban, Red Skelton and Betty Garrett.
While the clip of Williams and Montalban singing the song is famous, it was followed in the movie by another lesser-known version, with Betty Garrett as the pursuer and Red Skelton no-no-noing.
Here, see for yourself
It’s a little naughty. Sensuous even. But it’s not rapey.
If you don’t like the darn song, turn it off. There are lots of Christmas numbers that have me reaching for the knob on my radio. Anything by Alvin and the Chipmunks, for instance. “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” for another.
My favorite version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton dueting on Stewart’s “Stardust, the Great American Songbook” album in 2004.
I saw Dolly perform in Norfolk a few years later. When she sat down to perform that number, I prayed Rod would walk out on stage. He didn’t. His raspy, sexy voice was there, but he wasn’t.
It was wonderful.