'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Christmas song controversy isn't new: A brief history of the lyrics debate

MeToo movement puts Christmas classic on ice

Radio stations in San Francisco and Cleveland have pulled ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ in show of support for the #MeToo movement.

The Christmas classic "Baby, It's Cold Outside" once again made headlines this year when a radio station in Ohio removed the holiday hit from its lineup in November after a listener expressed concerns. The move reignited an old debate across the country — with many once again closely reevaluating the lyrics to the 1940's song.

“It wasn't really our decision. It's the decision of our listeners," WDOK Christmas 102.1 host Desiray told Fox 8, adding there have been many valid points raised about the song. "People might say, ‘Oh, enough with that #MeToo,’ but if you really put that aside and listen to the lyrics … the tune might be catchy, but let's maybe not promote that sort of an idea."

Afterward, radio stations across the country considered echoing WDOK's action and celebrities slowly started weighing in as well.

OHIO RADIO STATION STOPS PLAYING 'BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE' AFTER LISTENER EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER SON'S LYRICS

But this isn't the first time "Baby, It's Cold Outside" has been in the hot seat.

In the tune, a female sings: "I really can’t stay,” to which a man responds: "But baby, it’s cold outside.”

In another part of a song, a woman is heard singing lines like "Say what's in this drink?," "The answer is no" and "I've gotta get home."

The potentially problematic lyrics of the 1944 song, written by Frank Loesser, have been discussed for years. Here's a brief history of the seemingly annual trend.

2018 

Cleveland radio station WDOK Christmas 102.1 said they pulled "Baby, It's Cold Outside" from its Christmas lineup after a listener noted the inappropriate nature of the song's lyrics. The station later said it conducted a poll online and the results — which were not visible online — revealed the majority were in favor of ditching it.

Many radio stations started following suit, conducting polls on their respective websites to determine if their listeners felt the same way.

KOSI 101 in Denver also said they briefly “decided to rest the song” until they got feedback from listeners. But in the end, roughly 95 percent of people polled said they were in favor of KOSI playing the holiday tune.

FATE OF 'BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE' BEING ASSESSED BY MULTIPLE RADIO STATIONS AFTER SONG WAS PULLED BY OHIO STATION

“While we are sensitive to those who may be upset by some of the lyrics, the majority of our listeners have expressed their interpretation of the song to be non-offensive," KOSI 101.1 program director, Jim Lawson, said in a news release.

Dean Martin's daughter, Deana, vowed to continue performing the classic, despite the negative feedback it has received over the years.

“It won the Oscar for ‘Best Original Song’ in the 1949 film ‘Neptune’s Daughter.’ It’s been recorded by dozens of the world’s top recording artists for over 60 years, including my dad Dean Martin… This song is included in his very successful 1959 ‘Winter Romance’ album and I’m very proud that it has become an evergreen favorite that is played every holiday season," Deanna told Fox News in December.

“’Baby It’s Cold Outside’ is a cute, flirtatious and romantic song,” she added.

2016

The author of a 2016 article published by Vox posted the lyrics to "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with annotations — with the goal of pointing out how some people may interpret the song as "romantic" while others dub it "rapey."

"In the 'romantic' reading, the woman really does want to stay but feels socially pressured to leave," writer Emily Crockett first explains." It’s 1944, after all, and it’s scandalous for an unmarried woman to spend the night with a man. But since it’s obvious to her date that she really does want to stay, he feels no compunction about pressuring her — and she’s also more than happy to be given an excuse to do what she wants to do anyway."

'BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE' SALES SOAR AMID CONTROVERSY, REPORT SAYS

"The 'rapey' reading, on the other hand, finds the events of the song troubling given our modern understanding of how sexual consent and sexual assault work. Regardless of what Loesser intended, it’s a lousy model for romance that normalizes sexual coercion and date rape," she continues.

Crockett later points readers to a new version of the song performed by Minneapolis duo Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski. The pair's updated lyrics "emphasized the importance of affirmative consent," she adds.

A video of their performance has garnered nearly 770,000 views on YouTube since it was published on Dec. 9, 2016.

2012

Again, a writer questioned whether "Baby, It's Cold Outside" was a "date-rape anthem," noting that it isn't the first time the issue has been discussed.

Author Stephen Deusner, writing for Salon, called the lyrics "icky at best" and "reprehensible" at worst. Without a doubt, Deusner said the song describes what is likely a date rape.

"Ultimately there’s something sinister about the song’s playful ambiguity, as we’ll never truly know if she wants to stay or if it’s just the roofie talking," he writes, in part.

"Ultimately there’s something sinister about the song’s playful ambiguity, as we’ll never truly know if she wants to stay or if it’s just the roofie talking."

Deusner even suggested switching up the lyrics a bit.

"Switch the parts. Have the woman play the Wolf and the man play the Mouse. Or have two men or two women sing the song. Play around with the gender roles and sexual orientations. Find new ways to stage this disturbing little playlet. It might not make for the definitive version of the song, but at least it would give a new twist to the drama and might make 'Baby, It’s Cold Outside' somewhat bearable again," he concluded.

2007

According to Rolling Stone, this is when the debate about "Baby, It's Cold Outside" truly began — thanks to the birth of social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter.

In December 2007, Funny or Die released a parody video of a man acting very creepy. At one point, he drags her away from the door as she clutches the doorknob. He even ties her up with twine.

That's not the first time Funny or Die has tackled the popular song either. The program recreated it again in 2015 — again, showing a man forcing a woman to stay and even slipping drugs into her cocktail. At the end he ties her up and tapes her to a chair before she breaks free and knocks him out with a fireplace tool.

The video, which Funny or Die dubbed an "honest performance" of the song, has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of YouTube users.

2006

A 2006 Livejournal entry by Brad Hicks — who "'achieved limited notoriety' for operating an early Internet bulletin board," per Rolling Stone — went through each line of the song and discussed various points about the song, which he noted he "still rather likes."

He argues the song is "clearly meant as an amusingly rendered seduction," though admits that it's controversial.

"Up until only about a decade and a half ago, it was still a prosecutable crime in some states. And even shorn of the sexist legal principles aimed at protecting a father's financial interest in his daughter's virginity, there are still people who want seduction to be a prosecutable crime now," Hicks wrote.

Fox News’ Mariah Haas, Stephanie Nolasco and Elizabeth Zwirz contributed to this report.

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