In early December, with winter and Christmas coming on fast, 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, California, just across the bay from Berkeley, where the Free Speech Movement allegedly started. What exactly is the problem with this tune?
Frank Loesser wrote “Baby, It's Cold Outside” way back in 1944, during the final FDR Administration. The song showed up in the 1949 film Neptune's Daughter, with Ricardo Montalban and Red Skelton crooning to, respectively, Esther Williams and Betty Garrett. The song, which won an Oscar, leaves everything to the imagination, the movie style of the time. It’s all different now.
Ricardo may have been trying to get below decks with Esther, something that has happened since way back in the Garden of Eden, as Wayne Fontana said. Now such a date is “sexist,” a hissing epithet of the word police, who urge radio stations to ban the tune. Might something much worse have escaped that fate?
“Once again I gotta punch a bitch in her shit,” raps Jasper Dolphin of Odd Future, who warns that “I might blind you bitch.” Likewise, Eminem raps, “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 has managed to escape publicity. And when it comes to violent lyrics, to paraphrase Chubby Checker’s “Limbo Rock,” this is hardly as low as you can go.
I want to slit your throat and fuck 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,” before closing out with the theme of “people=shit.” 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 work 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 6,000-word autopsy report will confirm.
Public complaints about sub-nihilist non-music are rather hard to find. Throat slitting and sex with a corpse was not what the great Ray Charles had in mind for Betty Carter, in their 1961 version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” 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 God damn ways
It’s all Greek to me
To be sure, the lyrics created something of a stir, but 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, and the back story here may have been forgotten.
During the 1980s, Tipper Gore, wife of U.S. Senator Al Gore, Tennessee Democrat, launched the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) to complain about foul lyrics in rock music. In 1985 the Senate actually held hearing on the lyrics, with witnesses such as Dee Snider, whose Twisted Sister band made Tipper Gore’s “Filthy Fifteen” list.
Readings from the lyrics included the usual terms four-letter terms and even “anal vapor.” Other Witnesses included Frank Zappa and even, yes, John Denver. It was not the sort of thing anybody could make up, but you can watch the whole thing here. Nothing like it has occurred since and as the record shows, things swiftly got worse.
By the turn of the century, bands are celebrating murder, mutilation and such, and people=shit. Call it inclusive nihilism, all ignored by the people who want to ban “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
In a crowded field, the ban is a strong contender for the stupidest act of political correctness in 2018.
The trouble with the modern world is that stupidity has begun to think, Jean Cocteau reportedly said, but there’s more to it. With this ban, political correctness drops its progressive drawers to reveal a chastity belt with a LoJack alarm system on full alert. And as we say, inside every progressive is a totalitarian screaming to get out.