The lyrics of a decades-old song are new fodder for debate this holiday season as the 1944 classic "Baby it’s Cold Outside" has been banned by several radio stations across the country, the first being Star 102 in Cleveland. The refusal to play the holiday classic has sparked uproar by some who believe the lyrics are being misconstrued amid the #MeToo era.
Last week, WDOK, which is branded as Star 102.1, notified listeners that the song would not be featured as part of its holiday playlist this year. Host Glenn Anderson wrote on the station’s website that the song, which was written 74 years ago, seems manipulative and wrong.
“The world we live in is extra sensitive now, and people get easily offended,” Anderson wrote. “But in a world where #MeToo has finally given women the voice they deserve, the song has no place.”
In the days that followed, other stations have followed suit, including KOIT in San Francisco and KOSI in Denver. However, both stations have shown signs of potentially reversing course after listeners protested the decision.
Some believe the lyrics of the song ring not bells of joy and innocent flirting – but rather date rape. Those inferences have been the prevailing theme in the reason some stations have banned the song in light of the #MeToo era.
“I think you can twist pretty much anything into your cause. It’s not just right. It’s not what it was about when it was written,” said Ron Hanf.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was featured in the 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter, which won an Oscar for best original song. A particular portion of the call-and-answer ballad is especially concerning, opponents say.
The female voice in the duet says, “I’ve got to go away… Hey, what’s in this drink?,” which is later followed up with, "The answer is no.”
Some bloggers have said the line, "Hey, what’s in this drink," was actually a common joke in the 1940s and not reminiscent of date rape. One oft-quoted Tumblr post said, “… it’s a song about a woman finding a way to exercise sexual agency in a patriarchal society designed to stop her from doing so.”
“I usually wouldn’t think too much about it. It’s a little bit creepy of a song. I don’t find it offensive. A lot of people do,” said Marissa Scavuzzo of Cleveland. “But it is a little creepy. I do think it’s the age of #MeToo now and I think it’s excessively being played on the radio stations. It’s almost like it’s pushback.”
Others preferred to see the song as playful, an innocent back-and-forth.
“I love the song. It’s a classic and we need to be singing it,” said Lori Oberaitis. “I think we need to continue singing it. There’s nothing creepy about it.”
At the very least, the song has provided people with yet another thing to disagree about.