By AHLORA SMITH
You know “White Christmas,” and “Blue Christmas,” and “Santa Baby,” and “Silver Bells,” “Rudolph,” and “Frosty,” and “Sleigh Ride” and “Drummer Boy,” but do you recall the objectively creepiest song of all? “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has been a seasonal favorite since its composition in 1944, but the song has been cast in a more scrutinizing light this year in particular. The controversy surrounding the piece has been debated for the past ten years, but it is hard to tell why exactly 2018 became the defining year for this swirling controversy.
Recently, a pressing issue regarding this song is whether radio stations have the freedom to broadcast it or not. For instance, certain radio stations in Canada were banned from playing it earlier this month, though the ban has since been lifted on some of these stations. On the other hand, the vast majority of radio stations have been exercising their right to dictate what is played and what is not. For example, according to Fox 4 Kansas City, a radio station in Kentucky marathoned “Baby It’s Cold Outside” for two hours straight, claiming “it’s a fun song.” Despite differing opinions on the song itself, radio stations heads on principle have the right to broadcast whatever song they please.
When looking at the lyrics as a whole, they can be interpreted in two ways: a young woman playing hard to get, or a man, quite creepily, leading said woman to act against her true desires. Now, the 21st century has been a time of great progression for various groups, cultures, and genders. A significant movement in this year is the #MeToo movement, which advocates for women who have been assaulted and protests overall gender inequality. The movement has ignited a desire for reform which most likely has been the catalyst for the sudden outbreak of protests against “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” However, the debate about whether the song should be played publically is mostly divided among the generations, each exposed to different levels of worldly progression.
The younger generation typically argues that lyrics such as “say, what’s in this drink?” and “the answer is no” does not reflect the current climate in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Older generations will say that the song is the innocent courtship of a young man and woman. During the postwar era, rules and laws on courtship etiquette became much stricter, and women typically experienced severe societal scorn for making their own romantic decisions, especially staying overnight at a man’s house out of wedlock. However, despite these societal expectations, the lyrics of the song still convey an expressed intent to keep a woman from leaving, contrary to her own wishes. Due to these nonconsensual connotations, radio stations in particular face ever-escalating backlash for broadcasting “Baby It’s Cold Outside” during the holiday season.
The point of this long, quite exhausting debate is this: should radio stations avoid playing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside?” Overall, the choice is and should always be with the head of each individual station. In 1964, a landmark Supreme Court case upheld the ability of the Federal Communications Commission to censor “obscene, indecent or profane” content from being broadcasted. In order to be legally forbidden from the airwaves, a song must “appeal to an average person’s prurient interest,” depict “sexual conduct in a ‘patently offensive’ way” and overall “lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.” The song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” does not meet the Supreme Court’s three-prong test to be ruled as such; therefore, the decision whether or not to play this controversial Christmas classic must remain in the hands of individual radio stations.