Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Baby it's Cold Outside": Why you shouldn't be creeped out

EVERY YEAR I have friends who talk about why "Baby it's Cold Outside" is the creepiest Christmas song ever. I disagree, because not only is it not a Christmas song (it talks about the cold, people! So it's a fall/winter/spring song depending on where you live), but there's a lot of versions of this song and so, accordingly, there can be a lot of readings of this wintertime classic.

Once a ladies man,
always a ladies man.
(Which is saying a lot;
not everyone can rock a bad wig.)
A little history: The first time most audiences heard this song was in Esther Williams' 1949 film Neptune's Daughter. The song is a comedic number that takes place in either California or Florida (it has been a while since I've watched it and I don't want to shell out the money to watch it on Amazon.com to double check the state. Sorry kids.) during swimsuit season (so obviously it's not cold outside) and Ricardo Montalban (yes, Kahn) is trying to romance Esther Williams, who is aware and skeptical of his playboy ways (those South American polo players!), never mind the fact that she's going on a date to prevent him from dating her boy-crazy sister. They sing the song and then there's a reprise with Betty Grable as Esther Williams' little sister trying to convince Red Skelton (who is pretending to be Ricardo Montalban) to stay.

I know it sounds a little convoluted, so you just go watch the movie. I promise it's adorable, with all those things you love about old movies, like fashion shows and jazz musical numbers. (In case you don't want to watch a 40s musical, I found the song clip for you.)


The song won an Academy Award for best original song and it became attached to the Christmas season because of titular cold. 

More thoughts: Some of the lyrics are distressing, I won't disagree with that. "The answer is no." is one that stands out for me and I know "Say, what's in this drink?" is frightening, to say the least. For what it's worth, when the song was written roofies hadn't been invented yet. Asking someone what they put in a cocktail isn't uncommon, and it my way to dance around any unpleasantness. In my opinion, the lyrics make it seem like the person protesting would like to stay, but doesn't want to have to contend with any scandalous rumors. So that's how I convince myself that the song is all good fun. And not creepy.

And if that's not enough to love the song again, the lyrics are less of an issue with Idina Menzel's duet with Michael Buble -- all references to drinks, cigarettes and "no means no" have been lifted and replaced with lyrics suitable for adorable lip-syncing children.

Did I miss any arguments on either side? Let me know!

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