I have a new Top 40 outrage about which to vent. And it’s so refreshing that this one—which involves a once and now again Top 40 song—has nothing to do with my previous 39 Trump-inspired outrages. What has me so steamed in this holiday season—and I mean “steamy” in a purposely scandalous way—is the #metoo defamation of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” a classic winter ode to romance by one of the great American songwriters of all time, Frank Loesser.
Some of the same people, no doubt, who castigated Matt Damon for suggesting that rape and a pat on the butt are not in the same category of sexual offense—I’m thinking of you, Minnie Driver, who fell for Damon’s title character in “Good Will Hunting”—would have us believe that it’s out of bounds for a male to suggest to a guest of the female persuasion that inclement weather might be an excuse for her to stay awhile longer, if not for the night. Does he not have another bedroom or a couch? Hey, this is a love song, not a novel. As for the rape and pat-on-the-rear analogy, one is a felony and the other deserves a slap in the face.
Loesser, of course, is best known for the musical masterpiece “Guys and Dolls.” Yeah, I know, “dolls” is sexist. But then, the “guys” are all gamblers and hoods. Whadya expect? In “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” circa 1944, Loesser has the girl singing, “My mother will start to worry. . . . So really I’d better scurry.”
“The neighbors might think . . . . Say, what’s in this drink?” To which the guy counters, “Baby, it’s bad out there. . . . No cabs to be had out there.”
To assume that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is so offensive that radio DJs and digital programmers should boycott its play is to further assume that the man imploring his lady guest to hang out a bit longer is Bill Cosby, spiking her drink with knockout potions of Quaaludes, or Harvey Weinstein or Les Moonves chasing starlet wannabes around a bedspring acting couch while exposing themselves. Sure, if you’re dirty-minded enough to read into these lyrics that the man in question is a 60- or 70-something creep with inordinate power over a high-school girl’s fame-and-fortune ambitions, then go ahead and organize a campaign against every flirty lyric you’ve ever heard.
“What’s Wrong with Silly Loves Songs?” some guy named Paul once wrote.
How about banning “Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” which indicates that a chaste hug or, God forbid, kiss might keep a guy warm all the way home? Or think of the adultery suggested in “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”? I mean, how are we to know he’s really Daddy in disguise? It could be some old, bearded interloper forcing himself on Mama in a weak and vulnerable moment. Perhaps under the influence of wicked mistletoe or bourbon-infused eggnog. Are we to be left with no sense of humor when it comes to completely natural interaction between humans of opposite genders or of the same if that’s their inclination? Yes, flirting is risky behavior. There are boundaries to be respected, or crossed respectfully, as the case may be. But failing to take such risks, failing to flirt—failing to be alive—is an existential risk to the human race.
Dean Martin’s version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” currently ranks as a Top 10 recording, owing largely to this ridiculous controversy. Choose your targets better, #metoo. Picking on this one is brain-dead misguided, not to mention hormone-dead.
Steve Parks is a retired journalist now living in Easton.