Let’s start this off right, and by right, I mean really, really wrong. Have you ever listened to the lyrics to popular Christmas song “Baby it’s cold outside”? Because I hate to break it to you, but it’s not exactly the most progressive of songs. I like to call it “the date-rape song”.
This is probably the original recording:
Or here’s a nice country version if that’s more your speed:
The gist of the song seems to be that she “really can’t stay” and “has to go away”, but his protest is that it’s “cold outside”. May I call your attention to certain key lyrics:
The neighbors might think
Baby it’s bad out there
Say, what’s in this drink?
No cabs to be had out there
That, of course, is the verse that immediately grabs the attention of the modern listener, but the rest of the song is hardly innocent; he continually compliments her while she continually tries to get away. His lyrics get less persuasive and more openly sexual as time progresses and he sees he’s getting his way; early in the song he says things like “What’s the sense in hurting my pride” (clearly more concerned with his conquest than her protests), but by the middle of the song he’s openly going on about how her “lips look delicious” (followed by “Gosh, your lips are delicious, so presumably he got his kiss?)
Of course, I highly doubt the song was meant to come off so… aggressively. Instead, it merely seeks to reinforce the stereotype that men chase while women feign protest, holding that up as a picture of a healthy, consensual relationship… which is, on the surface, indistinguishable from a rape situation. So despite being probably well-meaning, it actively reinforces one of the more unsavory aspects of the patriarchy, making it all the more insidious.
Several modern covers have attempted to correct for the sleeziness by casting both parties as male, including the Glee cover:
While they’re beautiful and talented, I’m not sure it helps much. There’s also the image of homosexual men as doubly predatory, after all.
Others turn it into an over the top comedy, like this cover by the stars of Scrubs:
(Notice the total lack of cold or snow in their southern California location, and the lack of drinks or seductive atmosphere).
Meanwhile, She & Him went for a gender-reversed (and up-tempo) version:
But their version is also noticeably less seductive in tone.
What do you think? Is it time to just retire this song? Or can it be saved?
CONTEST: Submit a video or audio recording (linked in the comments) of an… amusing… rendition you’ve done (or I suppose you can nominate someone else’s version, so long as it’s amateur). I’ve rounded up a few people on my end to make the first entries; you have until the 15th to submit something, and then we’ll vote for a winner.