Muse Reporting on the arts and culture

Baby, it’s nuts outside

Arts | Radio listeners get riled up about the sexual ethics of an old seasonal song
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 12/07/18, 04:29 pm

Radio listeners in Cleveland accused WDOK of spoiling the Christmas season by deciding not to play the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The station said it received complaints that the tune glorified sexual aggression toward women, but critics said the station caved to political correctness.

“It’s not a date rape song. … get over it … program director needs fired (sic) over this,” Facebook user Kevin Davis wrote on the station’s Facebook page. He joined a chorus of commenters who vowed never to listen to the station again, and he even suggested calling the station’s sponsors to request they stop supporting it.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser for him and his wife, Lynn Garland, to perform at parties. Loesser later sold it to MGM, which used it in the 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter, where it gained national popularity and earned an Oscar for best original song.

The two characters in the song are known as “Wolf” and “Mouse.” The wolf, most often sung by a man, is trying to convince the mouse, a woman, to linger at his house longer than would have been decorous at the time. He gives her reasons not to go—mainly because it’s cold outside—and she argues that her father and the neighbors wouldn’t approve. Lyrics like “The answer is no / But baby, it’s cold outside” and “I really can’t stay / Get over that old out” appear disrespectful to the mouse on paper, but when sung in a playful lilt, they could be interpreted as merely flirtatious.

“Now, I do realize that when the song was written in 1944, it was a different time,” WDOK’s Glenn Anderson wrote in a blog post explaining why the station pulled the song. “But now while reading it, it seems very manipulative and wrong. The world we live in is extra sensitive now, and people get easily offended, but in a world where #MeToo has finally given women the voice they deserve, the song has no place.”

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has raised eyebrows before, but the #MeToo movement seems to have galvanized opposition to it. KOIT in San Francisco and KOSI in Denver also announced they were banning the song this year. But KOSI reversed its decision after an online poll with more than 15,000 respondents showed 95 percent of them wanted the tune back on the air. KOIT is conducting a similar poll and plans to announce the results Monday.

The song even has support from some feminists who have an entirely different take on it. They say the woman’s part gives voice to the sexual repression of the period in which it was penned.

“At the time period the song was written … ‘good girls,’ especially young, unmarried girls, did not spend the night at a man’s house unsupervised,” a writer for the feminist blog Persephone wrote in 2006. “The tension in the song comes from her own desire to stay and society’s expectations that she’ll go.”

So the song is an ode to either sexual harassment or sexual freedom, or something in between, but regardless, it involves a woman staying late at night at the home of a man to whom she is not married. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” might be a victim of political correctness run amok, but it’s not one that Bible-believing radio listeners should miss all that much.

Associated Press/Photo by Matriana Eliano Associated Press/Photo by Matriana Eliano The impressionist painting by Camille Pissarro on display at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid in 2005

Art heritage

The great-grandson of a German Jew who gave a priceless painting to the Nazis in exchange for her safety during World War II took a Spanish museum to court this week to get the artwork back. The Thyssen-Bornemisza museum in Madrid claims it rightfully owns the work by French impressionist master Camille Pissarro. The 1897 painting, which depicts a Parisian streetscape in the rain, is valued at $30 million. Lilly Cassirer’s father-in-law bought it directly from Pissarro’s art dealer and left it to her and her husband when he died.

Lawyers for the museum said Cassirer forfeited her rights when she accepted $13,000 from Germany in 1958 as payment for the piece, which was thought to have been lost forever. But it traded hands several times, and Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, one of the 20th century’s most prominent art collectors, bought it from New York gallery owner Stephen Hahn in 1976. Thyssen-Bornemisza, who died in 2002, sold the painting and hundreds of other works to Spain in 1993.

A friend of Cassirer’s grandson, who lived in the United States, saw the painting in a catalog, and in 2000, the family began working to get it back. After years of legal wrangling, both sides questioned witnesses before U.S. District Judge John F. Walter this week. He is expected to rule in the case sometime this spring. —L.L.

Associated Press/Annapurna Pictures/Photo by Matt Kennedy Associated Press/Annapurna Pictures/Photo by Matt Kennedy Christian Bale as Dick Cheney (left) and Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush,

Not all that glitters

Golden Globe nominations were announced Thursday, and Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic Vice led the pack. It garnered six nominations, edging out more expected favorites such as A Star Is Born, Green Book, and The Favorite. Love for Vice among the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group of freelance film journalists that selects the nominees, underscores the entertainment industry’s ongoing disdain for Republicans.

“I’ve never seen a movie that’s purer character assassination and insane conspiracy theorizing than #Vice,” WORLD movie reviewer Megan Basham tweeted. “Nasty & dishonest, not to mention dull, in its depiction of Cheney—that it received 6 #GoldenGlobe nominations is both laughable and predictable.”

On the television side, nominations were widely dispersed among the likes of spy thriller The Americans, Bill Hader’s hit-man comedy Barry, the Julia Roberts–led conspiracy thriller Homecoming, Chuck Lorre’s acting coach series The Kominsky Method, and last year’s champ, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, the FX anthology series about the Italian fashion designer’s murder, led all small-screen nominees with four nods. —L.L.

BOTUS will be back

Marlon Bundo, Vice President Mike Pence’s famous pet rabbit (he has 32,700 Instagram followers!), will star next year in two sequels to his best-selling debut picture book, Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President. Pence’s daughter Charlotte writes the stories, and his wife, Karen, illustrates them with watercolor paintings. The two donate proceeds from the books to charities that fight human trafficking and support art therapy for cancer patients. The first installment came out in March to positive critical acclaim. It also inspired a caustic parody by comedian John Oliver, who took aim at the vice president’s Biblical stance on sexuality. Charlotte and Karen Pence didn’t take offense, though, and urged people to buy both books since Oliver was also donating the proceeds to charities that work to prevent suicide among LGBT youth and end the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

The next adventures of BOTUS (Bunny of the United States) are titled Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Nation’s Capital and Marlon Bundo’s Best Christmas Ever. —L.L.

Paying the piper

Former CBS CEO Les Moonves stands to lose his $120 million severance package over allegations he not only sexually abused numerous women over the years but also may have failed to cooperate in the investigation that followed. Moonves left the network in September after a bombshell New Yorker piece labeled him a #MeToo offender. Lawyers hired by CBS said they found Moonves “evasive and untruthful at times and to have deliberately lied about and minimized the extent of his sexual misconduct,” according to an investigative report obtained by The New York Times. The report concludes the CBS board of directors had cause to fire Moonves and deny him severance pay. —L.L.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

Read more from this writer


You must be a WORLD Member and logged in to the website to comment.
  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Sat, 12/08/2018 12:53 am

    The most popular narratives in the world we live in are those which are untrue.  Why?  Because there is a lot of money to made and poltical power to be gained by feigned moral outrage.  Progressivism has become a type of counterfeit Christianity with a doctrine based on opposing tradition.  This is relativism without boundaries, where faux morals are renewed daily, finding the next thing to be outraged about.  What is the anitdote?  Actual truth!

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Sun, 12/09/2018 09:03 am

    I would be hard to top the comment from Xion who really seemed to sum up the problem.  In the conservative world in which  I was raised  women, even strong women, were protected first and the song always had a slight romantic and gentlemanly motive to it.  He really doesn't want her to be in danger or terribly uncomfortable on her way home.  The men I knew and grew up around didn't force their attentions on women.  Makes me an old fogey.  It's difficult to remember in this progressive society but sometimes men would not take advantage even if the girl was willing and/or vulnerable.  Wow!  That was a long time ago.  

    Posted: Sun, 12/09/2018 06:33 pm

    "Baby it's Cold Outside" is not per se a Christmas song. It is at best a winter time song. As such it doesnt belong in the canon of standard Christmas ditties and I take a sort of prideful joy in stating a good while back that the song definitely would not pass muster in our post #metoo era. I recall seeing a version performed where the female is the aggressive pursuer and the young man trying to evade her (a young Red Skelton) is the hapless would-be victim.

  • Janet B
    Posted: Tue, 12/11/2018 11:47 am

    Sawgunner, I believe that the scene you are speaking of is also in the movie Neptune's Daughter, which is where the song originally played.  The Red Skelton/Betty Garrett (I am sure it is her) scene is a parody on the Ricardo Montelban/Esther Williams scene.

    You can rent it on iTunes!

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Tue, 12/11/2018 02:08 pm

    A video from that part of the movie is linked to in the article.

    Posted: Sun, 12/09/2018 06:34 pm

    If Moonves gets the deserved heave ho for his own Weinsteinesque piggery, it looks as if his wife Julie Chen will depart the network as well. She will likely one day run for a US Senate seat from NY. 

  • Bob R
    Posted: Wed, 12/12/2018 05:18 pm

    I believe you’ve missed what would be probably the most disturbing lyrics, those involving her responses to his attempts to ply her with alcohol:  "...Maybe just a half a drink more ", and "Say, what's in this drink? ... I wish I knew how break this spell."  In light of today’s hypersensitivity towards victimhood, I've been expecting this kind of reaction for some time. 

    We’re constantly lectured to that any form of sexual activity is perfectly acceptable regardless who, what, when, or where it occurs.  I suppose we should be grateful that there is at least ONE behavior still considered to be out of bounds: it's still considered WRONG to force or coerce sexual immorality!