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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Radio stations courting yuletide controversy by icing out "Baby, It's Cold Outside"

Illustration for article titled Radio stations courting yuletide controversy by icing out "Baby, It's Cold Outside"
Screenshot: Talk Radio

It’s the holidays, that time of year when our country theatrically longs for a sense of bygone simplicity that never existed. And, as always, our promises to go ice-skating, sip hot cocoa, and roast chestnuts have instead curdled into the same old debates about the myriad ways people are trying to take “Christ” out of Christmas or whatever.


One of the latest controversies to inevitably ignite tension at the family table is the question of what we do with “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” an Oscar-winning 1944 song that’s either deeply uncomfortable or radically feminist, depending on who you ask. As NPR reports, a number of radio stations have decided to stop playing it, citing that, irregardless of the song’s original intent, it just seriously sounds like a date rape waiting to happen. “I’ve got to go away,” the female performer sings.Hey, what’s in this drink?” Meanwhile, the male performer urges her to stay by repeatedly invading her space and oogling those “delicious” lips. Woof.

Cleveland’s WDOK is one such station. “I do realize that when the song was written in 1944, it was a different time, but now while reading it, it seems very manipulative and wrong,” host Glenn Anderson wrote on the station’s site. “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.”

San Francisco’s KOIT also banned the song, but reportedly faced a “tornado” of blowback, not from fans of the song, we imagine, so much as the Fox News cabal. “People are unbelievably passionate about their Christmas music, it’s the one thing that you can’t mess with,” KOIT’s Brian Figula said.

KOIT is now leaving the ban up to the listeners, asking them in a poll to decide whether or not the station add it back into their lineup. KOSI in Denver already did a similar experiment, finding that the vast majority of the 15,000 respondents demanded the song’s return.

“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,” said program director Jim Lawson.

Also, did you hear Rudolph is political now? Happy holidays!


Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.