Hodge: Freezing out Baby, It’s Cold Outside is wrong

Christmas classic from another era shouldn’t be banned from radio play, says columnist Charlie Hodge

Merry Christmas.

Oh yes, and Happy Holidays as well.

The pendulum swing has surely reached its maximum apex with the latest round of sensitivity censorship nailing off certain Christmas classic songs. Oops, that should be happy holiday classic songs.

As I pen this, the news is fresh regarding the eyebrow raising case of censorship on radio. For a radio station it’s difficult to prove censorship since it creates its own playlists—unless, of course, they admit it, in which case, they should get a lump of coal.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside has been stuffed into the record deep freeze by a couple major Canadian radio stations.

On Tuesday, CBC Radio announced it had joined Rogers Media and Bell Media in removing the iconic Christmas favourite from its record rotations this year. Huh?

Written in 1944, Baby, It’s Cold Outside won the Academy Award for best original song in the film Neptune’s Daughter.

The winter classic has been recorded by a plethora of stars including Ray Charles and Betty Carter, Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart, and most recently Idina Menzel and Canadian star Michael Bublé. Despite its historical traditional place in our Christmas scene, some alterations in the song have occurred over the years. In fact, some artists have rewritten or reinterpreted the lyrics.

Without question, Lady Gaga turned more heads than normal when she and Joseph Gordon-Levitt flipped gender roles in a segment of the pop singer’s 2013 holiday special with the Muppets.

Some pundits suggest the radio station bans are largely influenced by a renewed scrutiny on inappropriate lyrics since the #MeToo movement explosion.

Bell Media runs two 24-hour Christmas stations in Vancouver and Ottawa and chose not to include the Christmas tune on its playlists this year, saying there are no plans to play it in the future. Rogers Media runs a number of all-Christmas music stations including 98.1 CHFI-FM in Toronto and 98.5 CIOC-FM in Victoria. Rogers has also removed the song.

I’m hoping Santa drops several lumps of coal under their corporate Christmas trees — if they have any.

I understand the desire to appease all and be sensitive to all, however, I also believe there comes a point of recognizing tradition and the time period of the song’s popularity. As a society, we are growing and evolving all the time in our change, awareness, willingness to learn and grow. However, we must be cautious of becoming too focused, controlled and safe. We cannot live in bubbles and then demand everyone to respect or change to who or how we are.

Change comes in various speeds. To trample on time held traditions such as “frisky” lyrics in a seasonal song seem minor in the world compared to some of the messages and lyrics played nonstop.

Is this the start then of a full scan on appropriate songs for Christmas time (Happy Holidays) or year round? I am confident there are a bundle of other not so nice lyrics in tunes out there between now and new year’s we will hear if we want to go down that scrutiny path.

Should other festive season songs be nervous?

Personally, I find the whole idea way over the top, strategically stupid, and even a tad insulting.

Baby It’s Cold Outside is a classic by its true sense. It is dated in not only its lyrics but the entire presentation. Broadcasters naturally have the right to decide their playlists and understandably not every song in the world can get airplay. What Bell or Rodgers want to build their listener clientele around in the way of song choices is their right.

If they had truly wanted to make the move because it was the “right thing to do,” they could have done it quietly and quite likely few would have noticed. If they announced the decision to get recognition on how consciously aware and supportive they are in eliminating some suggestive (and perhaps time-sensitively archaic) lyrics from a classic song then they failed. Most people simply see it as silly and over the top.

***

Speaking of some wonderful music and wonderful people, I gather from Jim LeGuilloux the wrap up of the 25th Whiski Jacks Rock4Kids event was top shelf. Awesome.

Last week I mentioned Scotty and the Slamdogs might end the night. After all, it was the Slamdogs who hosted the first Rock4Kids. Thanks to Scotty Martin, Eddie and Alfie Galpin and Richard Girard for appropriately ‘shutting ‘er down’!

***

Charlie’s Angels Christmas List is running next Friday so you have until Wednesday at noon to send me your nomination. If you have an angel to tell me about send their name and the reason they are an angel in your world. Send it to charliehodge333@gmail.com.

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