It’s almost Christmas you guys! You know what that means: another season of hanging out with your loved ones, exchanging gifts, setting up decorations and generally ignoring work for weeks at a time. Not bad, right?
Unfortunately, the Christmas season comes with one huge negative: Christmas music. I’m not talking about the soft instrumental/choral music that is usually religious in nature – I’m talking about the schmaltzy seasonal music, typically involving Santa Claus or reindeer or presents or whatever. That’s the worst thing about the season, as far as I’m concerned, and you’d REALLY have to do something special to stand out from the crowd of awful Christmas songs.
And yet, one song rises above all the rest as the oddest, creepiest and all-around worst of all: Baby, It’s Cold Outside.
If you’ve somehow never heard the song (basically if you’re between 1-5 years old and can’t comprehend language, a house pet or the luckiest person on Earth), it’s the story of two people enjoying each other’s company for a night of drinks next to a cozy fire while it’s….well, cold outside. The song centers around a woman trying to convince the man to let her leave despite his continued objections. The end result is the most rape-tastic song in music history. (Yep, even more than “My Sharona” and “Date Rape” combined.) It’s a lot like SNL’s “The Continental” sketch, only in song form.
What makes this song so rape-y? Let’s take a look at the lyrics:
Woman: My mother will start to worry…
Man: Beautiful, what’s your hurry?
Woman: My father will be pacing the floor…
Man: Listen to the fireplace roar.
Right off the bat, we have two schools of thought. The woman, who shouldn’t even NEED a justification to leave, mind you, cites family concerns as part of the reason she needs to leave. The man? He’s just like “Hey, I mean, do your parents even HAVE a fireplace? Since it’s pretty cozy in here and all.” CHECKMATE, MAN! Flawless logic.
Woman: The neighbors might think…
Man: Baby, it’s bad out there.
Woman: Say, what’s in this drink?
Man: No cabs to be had out there.
Remember how I called this a rape-y song? Here’s where we get some REALLY creepy shit. The woman, having tried to appeal to the man’s sensibilities as a decent person, tries to play the “reputation as a slut” card. The man counters with the central theme of the song: “it’s bad out there.” Because everyone knows bad weather is the best reason of all to stay with a stranger for the night, right? Look, I live in a cold-weather state, but that doesn’t mean I just hang out when it looks like I’m gonna be raped just because it’s chilly outside. The REAL kicker here is the woman saying “Say, what’s in this drink?” Don’t worry honey, that’s just Christmas spirit! And probably Rohypnol, but hey, who hasn’t been date raped by CHRISTMAS SPIRIT, right??
Woman: There’s bound to be talk tomorrow –
Man: Think of my life-long sorrow.
Woman: At least there will be plenty implied.
Man: If you caught pneumonia and died.
Woman: I really can’t stay…
Man: Get over that holdout.
Near the end of the song, the woman again plays the reputation card. The man? He’s just like “Don’t you think it totally blows how lonely I am?” and “I mean, what if you happened to die while you tried to go home?” As I’ve learned many times over throughout my life, women LOVE desperation, since it makes them feel needed – good work, dude! And when she keeps objecting? He tells her to get over her “holdout” – as though there’s only one inevitable conclusion to the night and she might as well not resist. How empowering!
Maybe it’s silly to complain about a song that was written almost 70 years ago, given the change in cultural standards since then, but the fact this song continues to be covered over and over again kind of freaks me out. Especially when there are women like Zooey Deschanel initiating the cover.
In conclusion, I’ll let Key and Peele parody this better than I ever could. Merry Christmas everyone!