Baby It’s Cold Outside Isn’t Worth It

I understand. There has been a huge cultural movement over the last few years. Call it the PC movement, Social Justice Warriors, or something else, but it’s been a general drift away from certain “traditional” mindsets that might have been broadly accepted in the past, but which have fallen out of favor with many today.

And some people find that threatening.

We could dive into the details about what motivates people and what makes them feel insecure, but I’m not a psychologist, and I don’t feel like going there today. Suffice it to say that there’s a backlash movement against the PC movement. There are people who feel there should be no need to sacrifice things that have been popular for decades just because they might be perceived as insensitive or disparaging to whole groups of people. (Quick aside: read that last sentence again. Then, if that describes you, question your life choices.)

Perhaps I’m being dismissive. Perhaps I truly don’t understand what motivates people who seem (to me) to hear about the fact that they’re doing something that’s upsetting or hurtful to others, and then they decide to continue doing it, just because they don’t feel like they should have to stop.

I deal with this kind of behavior pretty regularly, as a parent. One of my kids will be on the couch, It’s a big couch. Plenty of room. And another one will come sit down on the couch. Sooner or later, one of the kids makes a move. Typically, they try to sprawl out as much as possible. Inevitably, this sprawl infringes on the space of the other kid. That’s when the arguing starts. The couch is big enough for everyone, but one kid feels like they should be able to set up shop on the whole thing, or right next to the other kid.

Another example: we’ll be in the car, and one kid decides to start listening to their video game music without using their headphones. It’s annoying to everyone else in the car, but they don’t want to stop, because they like it more without headphones.

Folks, if your behavior is regularly mirrored by a five-year-old, maybe going around calling other people misguided or wrong is a tad off base.

The thing is, if these debates were about truly important things, I’d be much more sympathetic. If something really matters to a person, I try to be able to help that person get that thing. But so many of these “Anti-PC Movement” movements have been about things that . . . just don’t seem to amount to much. And no example of this is easier to see than “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

To judge from my current Facebook feed, you would think “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is the Mona Lisa of Christmas music. That it’s the epitome of all that is good and right with the world when it comes to holiday classics. Here’s how I summed it up in one Facebook response I wrote:

Of all the possibilities, I get a kick out of the number of people willing to go to battle for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” As if this is the Bridge of Khazad Dum, and PC Culture is the Balrog, the song is Frodo, and they’re Gandalf, bravely standing there shouting “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!”

It’s a song that if it were done today, would come across as creepy. And it’s still being covered today. It’s a light Christmas song, and people are treating it like it’s Holy Writ.

If people don’t like it, don’t play it. If people like to listen to it, fine. But to go full nerd and explain the history of the song, American culture, and dating mores just to justify why you feel you should be able to listen to the song and it should be in regular rotation on the radio . . . seems excessive.

The debate is generating a fair bit of buzz, with some radio stations yanking the song from their rotation (OH NOES!!), and videos being made that poke fun at the song and the debate.

Pretty amusing, though I kind of cringe at the cavalier way it’s poking fun at the #metoo movement
This one I take more umbrage at, mainly because it strongly implies anyone who has an issue with the song is represented by this sort of behavior, which I think totally misses the point.

When I first read the linguistic, historical defense of the song a few years ago (such as some of the thoughts expressed in this article), I thought it was interesting, and I agreed with it. The song didn’t mean what it sounds like it means today. What’s the big deal?

But #metoo has happened since then, and the song really comes across as flat footed now. And yes, that’s not what it meant back then, but so what? Will I take this song out of my own Christmas playlist? No. It’s a catchy song, it won an Academy Award, and I don’t mind it. Do I care if I don’t hear it on the radio ever again? No. If I like it, I can buy any version I want and play it until my ears bleed.

(As another side note, I get another kick out of the fact that some of the people who are arguing we keep the song playing are conservative, and their argument “It doesn’t mean what you think it means” ends up being “Actually, it means this unmarried woman wants to have sex with a man.” And that somehow . . . makes it a song we should gather the kids around to enjoy together? How does “Baby It’s Cold Outside” end up being the hill some conservatives want to go to war over? Just because it’s something the PC movement wants? The enemy of my enemy is my friend?)

Anyway. That’s about 1,000 words more than I’d ever thought I’d be writing about this subject, but it’s been bugging me more and more as I see the debate sprawl across social media. Sooner or later, I just can’t keep my mouth shut. Thanks for reading.

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