Religious Orders

Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 25

Posted: Saturday December 26 2015 @ 7:26pm

Religious Order: Music

I'd like to close out the advent goodness by attempting to rehabilitate a song that's been criticized a lot in recent years, Baby, It's Cold Outside.

I love this song. I love call and response songs. I love the variety of ways the roles can be played in it. (Roles. Remember that. It's important.) I love the variety of deliveries folks can give it. It's a really well-crafted song, but it's a problematic song.

The song has a bad reputation lately because, to modern ears, the lyrics sound date-rapey. It sounds like the woman wants to leave, and the guy is being a dick about not letting her do so. It sounds like he's trying to press her into consenting to things she doesn't want to do.

But that's the wrong context for it. The mistake is in sticking the song into a real-world context. It wasn't written for that context.

Look, here's the actual context for the song. It's sung by a husband and wife. No, really, in real life it was written by Frank Loesser and sung as a duet with his wife, Lynn Garland, in front of their friends. Garland adored the song and was mad when he sold it. It's two consenting, married adults, role-playing. That's not my interpretation. That's what the song actually is.

When she says The answer is 'no', she's not really saying no. In modern parlance, it would be like any sort of naughty sex role-playing, where there's a safeword when you really mean no. (Of course, this is 1944, and the naughty part is her bucking societal expectations by staying at all.)

When she says What's in this drink? she's chiding him; she's not really suspicious of the drink. They're role-playing in the song.

In the wake of 50 Shades, we have a society in which rough BDSM sex is accepted, because we all know that it's consensual role-playing. Yet, somehow, we can't figure out that this wonderful song is the same sort of thing.

Anyway, my favorite version of the song is the Ann-Margret/Al Hirt version. It's slow and sensual, clocking in at just a hair over three and a half minutes. Ann-Margret plays at innocence, purposely failing spectacularly at it.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Now, it's true that you can make the song creepy. I watched a local holiday production where they had two kids singing it. That was creepy. Of course, having them pretend to have rough BDSM sex would have been creepy, too. Some things aren't meant for children.


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