“Baby It’s Cold Outside” is not controversial, rather a product of its time


IMAGE / Wikimedia Commons

‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ is a holiday classic that has come under fire in the modern era.

By Holly Hoskey, Reporter

As the holidays are fast approaching, songs like “Jingle Bell Rock” start playing, and other songs ignite controversies.

With the progression of society, popular culture is criticized more, and thus with movements, like #MeToo, discussions of consent have become mainstream.

Lyrics such as, “Say what’s in this drink” or “I ought to say “No, no, no sir”” remain some of the more ‘controversial’ lyrics, along with the overall nature of the song causing people discomfort as they interpret his lyrics as forceful and that he wants to assault her.

This dynamic is seen throughout the piece, but watching the original clip from the romantic comedy, Neptune’s Daughter, it appears more so that she is flirting rather than being forced.

Neptune’s Daughter, where this song first appeared, was about a woman named Eve Barrett, played by Esther Williams along with her sister, Betty Barrett, played by actress Betty Garrett, and a series of miscommunications.

They both mistake men for the same person and unknowingly they become close with these men. After a date and several meetings between Eve and her love interest Jose O’Rourke, played by Ricardo Montalbán, she discovers that he is seeing her sister too and she storms to his apartment.

After figuring out the confused identities, she apologizes, they begin flirting, and start singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

Knowing their relationship before they sing this song adds a more flirtatious tone to the song rather than a predatory one.

During the song, they both are giving one another loving looks, and often most of the more controversial lines such as “What’s in this drink?” are played more comically and flirtatiously than the more sinister manner that people associate with it.

Also, multiple times throughout the song Eve is making excuses for staying a bit longer, saying “Maybe just a half a drink more” and “maybe just a cigarette more.”

Many assert that these excuses are not a clear yes to his advances and also claim she has no need for excuses, she either does or does not wish to stay.

For women maintaining a pure reputation was important and they were forced into this purity by a strict social standards.

This societal pressure is seen as an excuse in the song, as she says, “My mother will start to worry” and “My father will be pacing the floor.”

But, after the line, “At least I’m going to say that I tried,” she forgets about the societal expectations, shown through the fact that she is willing now to stay. She has been rejecting his advances due to the stir it will cause, not because she doesn’t want to stay, as she has been flirting with him throughout the song.

It is also worth mentioning that the composer of this song, Frank Loesser, originally wrote ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’ as a duet for his wife and himself to perform at housewarming parties as their guests began to leave.

When looking back upon these older songs, it is important to take into account the context rather than just looking at it with a modern eye.