Imua 'Iolani

563 Kamoku Street

Honolulu, Hawai'i

imua@iolani.org

Christmas Songs

December 25, 2018

     It’s almost Christmas, and the carols that we have all come to know and love are heard, even through `Iolani’s halls. Or will they?

     Recently, classic Christmas songs are being taken off the air, as more people take offense to certain songs for inappropriate lyrics that suggested not-so-jolly things. An example would be the song, “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The song was taken off air in many cities because of “unwanted sexual advances” and “drug references”, according to The Guardian. Other songs have also been evaluated and deemed inappropriate, and some radio stations have argued that it is insensitive during this time, especially with the #MeToo movement. However, I believe that removing these songs for being “too offensive” is ridiculous and unreasonable action.

 

     The first song, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” was taken off air primarily because of its implications of date rape, especially in the line of, “What’s in this drink?” and implications of coercion when the woman in the song seems to be repeatedly telling the man that she should leave. However, to me, it appears that they are just flirting and teasing, and the lyric, “What’s in this drink?” has been contested so many times that I think it’s important to look at context in this scenario. The original performers and writers of the song, Frank and Lynn Loesser, performed it as a flirtatious song as a way into the entertainment business. In fact, their daughter Susan Loesser says that, “In those days, in the entertainment business, you had to bring an act to parties. This was their act.”

     As for allegations regarding the #MeToo movement, Lynn Loesser states that, “We’re all kind of mystified. The #MeToo movement, which I approve of, has really overstepped in this. You have to look at things in cultural and historical context.” Loesser brings up a good point about context. Context is always important, especially in cases like these where lyrics are questioned for their meaning. It helps determine the actual meaning of these lyrics, and without the necessary context, people can easily misconstrue what seems like an egregious song when in reality, it may just be a simple song with flirtatious undertones.

     The good thing is we can learn from our mistakes. Since context is very important, I think it is important to keep in mind that context is again important, and without it, we can miss out valuable information that can clear up a lot of confusion.

     The second song, “Frosty the Snowman,” was criticized for racism and sexism in the song. Frosty is considered racist because he is made of “white” snow, hinting that he is white. Advocates of removing “Frosty the Snowman” also bring up that since he can only survive in cold and snowy environments, it defeats the whole point of desegregation. According to the Daily Wire, “He is a creature made of snow (that is, made of whiteness) who “belongs” in the snow (that is, among other white people”). However, snow has no race and is not a race, and the fact that this comparison was made is beyond ridiculous. Snow melts in heat, which is why Frosty cannot leave snowy environments; it’s not a matter of sticking to one certain environments by choice, but by necessity.

     What’s worse is that people believe that Frosty is sexist simply because of “snowman.” According to the Daily Wire, “[Frosty the Snowman] is grounded in an outmoded, masculocentric point of view where anything magical, anything wonderful, anything happy or joyful must automatically be male.” However, “Frosty the Snowman” is sung in third person, and not focused on any single character’s point of view. There is no evidence in the lyrics of the song either that anything good that happens must only be for males or portrayed as male, and in general is relatively unfounded.

     From my observation, many critics seem to be over-analyzing “Frosty the Snowman.” There is little to no evidence for these claims, and they seem to have been found based on a prior bias or just looking for something that doesn’t even exist in the song. This is also seen in the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” controversy. I believe that people need to understand that most songs are just simple, innocent songs that don’t have any hidden messages and that looking for things to nit-pick turn up these sort of results. Context is also important, as without it, people will fail to understand the actual meaning behind songs. This leads to misunderstandings that spark undeserving contempt at songs that aren’t intending to send these messages. In conclusion,  looking out for these factors help when making “connections” that might not even be there.

 

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