I’m sure you have probably heard the big debate on social media about a Cleveland radio station banning the song “baby it’s cold outside” from their playlist this Christmas. Because of the connotations of the song.
What’s it about
I’m sure you would have heard the tune or one of its many covers over the Christmas period in the past. In it, a girl is trying to leave a house and a guy is trying to convince her to stay by pointing out the weather is bad. It’s all fairly light-hearted and sung in a way that suggests it’s quite harmless, but apparently, it isn’t appropriate now.
Are the lyrics provocative?
Well yes, actually they aren’t great. The male part of the song is fairly manipulative and lays it on thick. The response of the female character says “no” a lot, albeit in a playful way. With our current generations views on consent (and correctly so) this song actually doesn’t seem like the festive fun tune that it used to. In fact, in the modern world, it seems pretty inappropriate. Some advocates of the song have stated it’s just snowflakes on the left that are offended by this but there is a lot implied by the song so perhaps it should be banned. I mean, this is as bad as the song Blurred Lines, isn’t it? Which brings me nicely to another song that has been a topic for much debate (and is most christmasses!)
A fairy-tale in New York
Yes, the song is a classic Christmas tale and there is the famously wonderful argument between Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan where she calls him a bum and a punk. Nothing particularly offensive in there, is there? But within that verse is the insult faggot. Now I’m in my mid-thirties and perhaps I am wrong here, but faggot didn’t always mean what it does today. In the modern world, the term faggot is used as a fairly nasty slur against people who are gay. But back when I was young my mum and my nan used to call me that! Surely it didn’t always have those connotations, did it? And if that’s the case, presumably when the song was written it didn’t mean that?
But should it be changed then?
Well here’s the thing with the first song it seems fairly clear cut doesn’t it? But here it is far more contentious. Language evolves. When I was a young man it was entirely inappropriate to call somebody gay “queer” and now it seems that term is accepted, however, the word queer used to have absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality. Language evolves and so do people. There are people who feel this lyric should be removed, but what I’m curious to see is if there are any people from the LGBT community who actually find this offensive. Especially given the context!
Setting a precedent
Here’s the thing. If we start to censor the past does it not start a frightening trend? Is that a path we want to go down? I mean sure it’s just a lyric in a song, but what follows that? Banning “Of mice and men” because it contains a pretty well-known racial slur? That word was used back then, contextually it is appropriate, isn’t it? And where could we possibly go from there? What happens when some well-meaning “higher up” decides that the stuff that happened during the Holocaust was “a bit graphic” Can you see what I’m getting at? Censorship is a delicate subject and we need to make sure that the trend of using it doesn’t lead to an Orwellian nightmare.