The Strangeness of Christmas Songs (ctd)

First, a follow up on my post about “Last Christmas.” I was driving to day care with one of my children. He loves Christmas songs. “Last Christmas” came on, and before even the second measure passed, he let me know that this is not a Christmas song.

I had planned to address “Baby It’s Cold Outside” at some point. But not early. After all, it’s the song about … coercion. Rape culture.

But of course there’s more, and it’s making its way around Facebook. So now, I guess, is the time.

I think in 2017 it’s facile to merely say, “context! it’s a thing from two generations ago, and things were different! lighten up!”

It’s true that things were different, and I think Slay Bell has a strong case for the how the context is important. In short, two items work for me: first, that the entirety of the lyrics show that the two are debating; second, that the structure of the song shows them in harmony.

In 2017, though, much of the context (the song was originally written in 1939) has faded from our day-to-day lives. But the song, in many versions, is a near-constant presence in pop culture from November 1 to December 25 every year. And, decontextualized as it is these days, it does present plenty of opportunities to model pushy behavior. You know, sexual abuse.

Hooray for Betty Garrett and Red Skelton, anyway.

 

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