Listen To The Banned: As cultural sensitivities shift, a debate heats up over three classics
‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’
A number of US radio stations have banned classic Christmas song ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ after the 1944 song is accused of being “manipulative and wrong”.
From the Neptune’s Daughter soundtrack it was written by Frank Loesser and won an Oscar for song of the year.
The call-and-response is about a man and woman at the end of a date, with he persuading her to stay as there are no cabs at that time of the night and ‘Baby’s It’s Cold Outside’.
She responds, “I’ve got to go away” … “Hey, what’s in this drink?” and “The answer is no.”
His response is: “Mind if I move in closer … Gosh, your lips are delicious … How can you do this thing to me?”
Glenn Andeson, a presenter at Star102 FM in Cleveland, Ohio – the first station to pull the track this Christmas period – posted on its website that the song may have been written in a different era, but the lyrics feel “manipulative and wrong”.
“The world we live in is extra sensitive now, and people get easily offended, but in a world where #MeToo has finally given women the voice they deserve, the song has no place,” he said.
However, critics of the ban say too much is being read into the lyrics.
They say it reflects harmless flirting in an era when a “proper” woman would have to play hard to get even if she wants to stay, and is expressing her sexuality in a veiled era-friendly way.
It is argued that the line about the contents in the drink, which sent alarm bells ringing about date rape, is she suggesting that the drink needs more alcohol.
Stations who took a listeners’ poll found twice as many votes that they did not find the song offensive and some have already reinstated its airplay.
‘The Fairytale of New York’
Shane McGowan of The Pogues has responded to a call to ban ‘Fairytale of New York’, which he co-wrote with the late Kirsty McColl, because of its use of the word “faggot”.
Thomas Haynes, in an article for The Tab, said the lyric in track was “as bad as using the N-word” and evoked bad memories for those bullied online or in real life.
The offending verse goes: “You’re a bum / You’re a punk / You’re an old slut on junk / Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed / You scumbag, you maggot / You cheap lousy f****t / Happy Christmas your arse / I pray God it’s our last.”
MacGowan explains the reference was never intended to be homophobic.
“The word was used by the character because it fitted with the way she would speak and with her character.
“She is not supposed to be a nice person, or even a wholesome person.
“She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history and she is down on her luck and desperate.
“Her dialogue is as accurate as I could make it but she is not intended to offend!
“She is just supposed to be an authentic character and not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable, sometimes characters in songs and stories have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively.”
There was a Facebook backlash against Thomas Haynes’ comments and accusations.
Aisling Daly commented: “F****t’ is an old Irish slang word for a lazy person or a waster, and that’s the meaning that Shane McGowan intended when he wrote the song.
“Nothing to do with homophobia.”
‘Kiss The Girl’
An all-male a capella college group from Princeton University, Tigertones, has announced that it will no longer perform ‘Kiss The Girl’ from the 1989 Disney romantic movie The Little Mermaid after negative comments from some students that it was contrary to the #MeToo era.
In the song, Sebastian, a crab encourages Prince Eric to kiss Ariel to break the spell of her mute tongue so she can find true love.
A student, Noa Wollstein, wrote in the college newspaper that the song was “misogynistic and dismissive of consent.”
Wollstein added: “The song launches a heteronormative attack on women’s right to oppose the romantic and sexual liberties taken by men, further inundating the listener with themes of toxic masculinity.
“In trying to motivate Eric to kiss Ariel, the crab, Sebastian, makes use of lines such as, ‘Looks like the boy’s too shy,’ ‘Don’t be scared,’ and ‘It’s such a shame, too bad/You’re gonna miss the girl.'”