Rapey, It’s Cold Outside

It’s that time of year once again: presents, feasting, decorations, over-entitled grade-schoolers giving a bald-headed misfit grief over his choice of a tree after they guilt-trip him into buying one for them, and of course…caroling.

Back in 2011, I wrote a very long, very detailed, very angry rant about one of my biggest (and really, one of my only) pet peeves about the Christmas season: the tendency for FM radio stations to shove down our throats umpteen versions of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” a song that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the yuletide season.

In my blog post those many moons ago, titled “Why ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ is NOT a holiday song…and other rantings about radio programming of the season,” I went into the origins of the song itself, how it somehow got perverted into some kind of modern standard, and why all of this frustrates me so. Feel free to read said essay if you haven’t already, but in short: it’s about a guy using the cold weather outside to seduce, drug(!), and take advantage of a woman who wants to leave his house. It’s an anthem for all the seasonal date rapists out there.

The song started life (sort of) as a torch song in the 1949 romantic comedy Neptune’s Daughter. It fits the movie just fine, as it’s definitely a product of its time. In my original 2011 blog post I added that in all fairness, “it’s a fairly cute song.”

But you know what, all that has changed.

In the time since I first wrote that, I have been very happy to see people crawl out of the woodwork and start recognizing the skeeviness of the song (my friend Ludo frequently retweets such observations for my cathartic amusement). I strongly doubt it had anything to do with my blog, but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who’s seeing it. There’s a big difference between looking for something sinister where it doesn’t exist and something disturbing smacking you in the face.

Sadly, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is still being recorded, reused, and overplayed every Christmas season. Lady Gaga performed it on a TV special she did with the Muppets (that is, when she wasn’t dancing around on stage in a giant Naked Gun-esque condom costume). And just this year, Adele Dazeem recorded a new cover version with Michael Bubble…pairing it with a video where children are lip-synching to the song. Yuck!

Culturally, though, a lot more has happened since 2011. We had a presidential election in which candidates and members of our government had the nerve to create the concept of a “legitimate rape,” saying that women have the ability to prevent pregnancy if they really didn’t want to be assaulted. It came out that Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the GOP’s great white hopes, had knocked up his Hispanic maid and was keeping their “love child” a secret all while he was governor of California. Stephen Collins was molesting young women while starring on 7th Heaven. And then there’s Bill Cosby, who for decades was leaving a rape-filled shit-storm behind him darker than any Jello Pudding Pop.

And that’s just in addition to all of the other shit that was already going on; the “known secrets,” if you will. It’s been the same old story for decades, from Al Capp to John Kricfalusi. Otherwise weak males using their quasi-celebrity status to take advantage of young women…sometimes with the promise of advancing their careers, sometimes not, sometimes not needing to say or do anything so long as they can slip them a Mickey.

“Hey, what’s in this drink?”

I’m not saying the song has gone hand in hand with this atmosphere of abusive male power, but Jesus Harold Christ, can we maybe enjoy the Christmas season without hearing a song where a guy wants to RAPE SOMEONE?? Especially since, to reiterate my previous rant, the song has absolutely NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CHRISTMAS SEASON!

It’s finally time to start weeding this sleazy, smarmy ballad out of an otherwise peaceful and caring time of year. I ask everyone to send tweets and Facebook messages to your local radio stations–those two or three in your area that all claim to be your city’s “official” Christmas station–to request that they stop playing “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Suggest an alternate if you’d like; one of the zillions of other songs that have been pushed aside in recent years to accommodate not only that but also “Where Are You Christmas?”, that stupid Vince Vance song, and the numerous versions of “Last Christmas” that we’re stuck with every year.

I’ve been preferring to use the hashtag #AbortTheBaby in such messages…because most people will still agree that abortion is perfectly fine in cases of rape.

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