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The task is daunting and the field jostles with contenders, but the 2018 prize for politically correct stupidity goes to the campaign against “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” a tune written by Frank Loesser in 1944, during World War II and the last administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It took awhile but the tune caught on.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” showed up in the 1949 film “Neptune’s Daughter,” with Ricardo Montalban crooning to Esther Williams and Red Skelton to Betty Garrett. The song won an Oscar and many artists have covered it, including the great Ray Charles with Betty Carter in 1961. Ricardo, Red, Ray, and the rest may have been trying to get below decks with the ladies, something that has happened since way back in the Garden of Eden.
As Wayne Fontana said, the purpose of a man is to love a woman, and the purpose of a woman is to love a man. And if you can’t be with the one you love, as Stephen Stills put it, then love the one you’re with. Now all that sort of thing, including a song about a date between consenting adults, is “sexist” and, according to the word police, has no place on the radio.
In early December, with Christmas and winter coming on, WDOK in Cleveland, Ohio, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, slapped a ban on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” A similar ban followed from KOIT in San Francisco, just across the bay from Berkeley, where the Free Speech Movement allegedly started. Millennials and such might wonder what the fuss was about, and if the politically correct word police had ever looked the other way at songs that were much worse.
“Once again I gotta punch a bitch in her shit,” raps Jasper Dolphin of Odd Future. In similar style, Likewise, Eminem warns, “Slut, you think I won’t choke no whore? Till the vocal cords don’t work in her throat no more.” It’s all about violence against women but any proposal to keep this material off the radio escaped national publicity. That was also the case with more explicit material.
I want to slit your throat and f–k the wound
I want to push my face in and feel the swoon
The lyrics are from the 2001 “Disasterpiece” by the band Slipknot, whose “People=Shit” says: “Blood’s on my face and my hands, and I don’t know why, I’m not afraid to cry.” Slipknot is normally classified “heavy metal,” “death metal,” or “deathcore,” but the true genre here is sub-nihilist. As John Goodman said in “The Big Lebowski,” whatever you think of the tenets of national socialism, at least that was an ethos.
Slipknot fans, known as “maggots,” have been involved in deadly violence. The 2013 double murder in Davis, California, by Daniel Marsh, 15, shows inspiration from Slipknot. Like his heroes, Marsh wore a mask as he slashed and mutilated his victims. Marsh was also a fan of Chelsea Grin, a band named after a torture Marsh perpetrated on one of his victims. That never emerged in trial but the 16-page 6,000-word autopsy will confirm. To be fair, violent lyrics should not be singled out, and before violence came racism.
Police and niggers, that’s right
Get outta my way
Don’t need to buy none of your
Gold chains today
That is from the 1988 “One in in Million,” by Guns N’ Roses. The tune also says:
Immigrants and faggots
They make no sense to me
They come to our country
And think they’ll do as they please
Like start some mini-Iran
Or spread some fucking disease
And they talk so many Goddamn ways
It’s all Greek to me
Check and see if the outrage matched the campaign to ban “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” What might be called Ku Klucker rock was not a new trend. At a musical event in 1979, Elvis Costello called Ray Charles a “blind ignorant nigger” and James Brown a “jive-ass nigger.” Bonnie Bramlett, who sang with the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, promptly knocked Costello on his ass. That’s forgotten now, along with a backstory to the lyrics controversy.
During the 1980s, Tipper Gore, wife of U.S. Senator Al Gore (D-Tenn.), launched the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) to complain about foul lyrics in rock music. In 1985, the Senate actually held hearing on the subject, with witnesses such as Dee Snider, whose Twisted Sister band made Tipper Gore’s “Filthy Fifteen” list. Witnesses included Frank Zappa and even, yes, John Denver. Anybody curious can watch the whole thing here.
By the turn of the century, bands were celebrating murder and mutilation. Call it inclusive nihilism, all ignored by the kind of “progressive” people, maybe some wearing pink pussy hats, who want to ban “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Stupidity has begun to think, as Jean Cocteau said, and the politically correct mob is now the strike force of ignorance, bigotry and prudery.
Photo Credit: Getty Images