Susan Loesser, daughter of the iconic Frank Loesser, has been defending her father’s song, “Baby, it’s Cold Outside.”
“Absolutely I get it,” she said. “But I think it would be good if people looked at the song in the context of the time. It was written in 1944”
I think people understand the context in which the song was written (can we all admit that recognition of women’s rights or sexual assault really didn’t exist in 1944?) but we should also understand that songs, books, and films might get outdated as society changes as well. Just think about the language used to address people of color in the 1940s, the heart of the Jim Crow era: are we hanging onto those terms, even if they weren’t intended to harm? Like Gilbert and Sullivan, Loesser had some great songs but also ones that make people cringe (Mikado!) that many people have decided to move on from. Well, some people.
When you think about those who are most upset about the pushback against the song being pulled, it tends to be people who believe that there’s a war against Christmas. Yet, at the end of the day, this mediocre song has nothing to do with Christmas (the religious or secular version of the holiday). So are we only hanging because it is familiar or because we’re afraid that this is part of a larger war against the culture we know?
Yes, there are many other problematic songs out there that should probably be reconsidered but I think what people are really upset about here is the universal, harmless, approach to a darker meaning in today’s context and how it is tied to family traditions.
Is the crusade against “Baby It’s Cold Outside” really obscuring a song once used as women for radical empowerment as some claim, is it really a sign that the PC police has gone to far, or is it an important move for those who have experience trauma through sexual assault? Perhaps before deciding which camp we find ourselves in, we should take a step back and ask what what we’re trying to achieve, what kinds of values we want to celebrate, and if whatever action we take is worth the cost. No one is looking at why we believe what we believe and whether our actions are creating actual pain for others or not.
Perhaps the answer for the song is contained within the lyrics itself:
I really can’t stay…I gotta go away
You’ve really been grand, But don’t you see?
There’s bound to be talk tomorrow
At least there will be plenty implied