There is no war against Christmas, which makes it doubly frustrating when, after years of trying to convince large sections of the general public of this, there’s a declaration of hostilities.
Several major radio companies have announced they will remove “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from seasonal playlists, citing an apparent power imbalance in the duet.
Such coercion in relationships between men and women is the great debate that’s taking place at all levels of society today – one that’s important and overdue.
However, at the same time as a groundswell is putting such conversations on the front burner, a reaction to it is also now growing. That is only emboldened when minor issues – like a slightly-known song – become a battleground.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was written in the mid-1940s by a husband-and-wife team as a romantic duet that is fairly tame.
It is quite a tender little song about two people who long to be together, even spend the night together, but are worried about social implications of the time.
Without context, the lyrics are somewhat questionable.
In bare, reading the line “Hey, what’s in this drink?” sounds a lot like what Bill Cosby was recently convicted of. Another “I ought to say no, no, no,” certainly could be connected to the “No Means No” campaigns against what’s now understood to be date rape.
That’s the argument, which doesn’t really hold up in the total view, or a complete hearing of the song.
There are velvety tones and playful interaction, and other well-crafted lyrics fill out the female part.
That’s the artistic interpretation, but it’s interpretation and contemplation that’s being left out of so many of these discussions.
It’s also not clear exactly who is objecting, or whether corporate communications and legal teams simply decided they’d rather head this off at the pass, rather than deal with some growing social media backlash akin to the #Metoo movement.
That effort has so gripped North America that there is barely an area of life today not being examined.
That’s a good thing. But to discard context, to overreact to minor issues, or completely discount valid points in opposing views does nothing to move the conversation forward.
In reality, banning the song only serves to give ammunition to those who consider the world to be “too politically correct.” Their view is that the world is increasingly run by those who only want to control how people think.
Equally out of touch is the strong reaction against being “politically correct.”
For a decade, there has been a growing grumble that Christmas is somehow threatened by multiculturalism and people being too polite for society’s own good.
Meanwhile city buses still proclaim “Merry Christmas” on scroll signs, Christmas trees are plentiful, Santa Claus and candy canes are omnipresent from mid-November on.
Nobody’s going to bother you for mentioning Jesus Christ, the nativity, or any other religious aspects of the season.
Christmas appears to be doing fine.
Could it be that both extreme sides of these arguments are equally out of touch, but so vociferous that the majority of people are just too scared or exhausted to speak up?
When bits of news and minor controversies are held up as full-on, irrefutable examples, nothing is gained, and actually detract from what’s important.
For example, Dec. 6 is set aside to remember the Montreal Massacre and advance work to end violence against women.
But in a dizzying blur, banning a romantic Christmas song headlined the week’s social media discussions.
Tackling sexism, power imbalances in relations is an important conversation that’s desperately needed.
In the new year, let’s try to be more mindful, less reactive, and focus on what’s really important.