Everything Is Problematic: Christmas Music Edition
Everything is Problematic: Christmas Music Edition
Maybe you've heard that the song Baby, It's Cold Outside is being banned from radio stations. I'll admit, even I had gotten a sort of, well, Cosby vibe from the song. Especially the line "what's in this drink." South Park, Key and Peele and other comedies have tackled the song and how it seems to be something of a date rape anthem.
That said, apparently a former English teacher and 30's jazz aficionado weighed in online trying to stick up for the tune and explaining how it's far from rapey and actually could be considered an empowerment anthem for the time. The former teacher explained that the female in the duet "is excusing her uncharacteristically bold behaviour (either to the guy or to herself) by blaming it on the drink." The writer went on to point out that, "It is not a joke about how she's drunk and about to be raped."
"It's a joke about how she's perfectly sober and about to have awesome consensual sex and use the drink for plausible deniability because she's living in a society where women aren't supposed to have sexual agency." Baby, It's Cold Outside is just one facet of the Christmas celebration that's come under fire recently. There's too much considered "problematic" about Christmas to cover in one place, so we'll only be focusing on a handful of songs and trust me, for every song mentioned here you can probably find another three to five at least that are also being attacked as dangerously behind the times.
However, a former English teacher wrote a feminist defence of the song in a viral Tumblr post, suggesting the woman "is excusing her uncharacteristically bold behaviour (either to the guy or to herself) by blaming it on the drink".
"It is not a joke about how she's drunk and about to be raped," the blog's author wrote.
"It's a joke about how she's perfectly sober and about to have awesome consensual sex and use the drink for plausible deniability because she's living in a society where women aren't supposed to have sexual agency."
BBC spoke with a radio disc jockey who admitted, "In all of my time working at radio stations, I've never had anyone come to me and say 'we shouldn't play a song.' It only seems to be in the last few years that the sensitivity around particular songs are magnified. I think social media is responsible for magnifying these arguments nowadays."
My personal favorite Irish Christmas Drinking Song is Fairytale of New York by the Pogues. The song came under fire
for use of the words "faggot" and "slut." Initially, BBC Radio 1 had edited the words out, but after receiving ample criticism from listeners they edited it back in. To be fair though, once again, context is important.
You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last
That sounds less like hate speech and more like the kind of Scots-Irish bonding that's fairly common in my family.
But probably the most hilarious case of "problematic" Christmas music is the song Do They Even Know It's Christmas? which, ironically, was written to raise funds for Ethiopia in 1984 for Band Aid.
"There exists a paternalistic way of thinking about Africa, likely exacerbated by the original (and the second, and the third) Band Aid singles, in which it must be 'saved', and usually from itself. We say 'Africa' in a way that we would never say 'Europe', or 'Asia'," Bim Adewunmi explained in an article from The Guardian four years ago.
Just goes to show the purity spiral truly has no end and that regardless your intents and any other context or nuance, it's either considered bigoted or will be by next Thursday.
Oh, also apparently Jingle Bells is racist? Yes, that's right, Professor Kyna Hamill of Boston University pointed out that the song Jingle Bells was apparently a minstrel song originally performed in blackface. Which begs the question, when are they going to ban the song Mr. Bojangles from the radio?
I used to feel sorry for Bojangles. All that makes him happy is his dog and dancing "the old soft shoe." But then one day "his dog up and dies" at which point, he's certainly not going to feel like dancing. Pretty sad song, huh? But don't worry, because if you listened closely you'll remember "he used to play in minstrel shows throughout the land." That's right, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Bojangles was a performer in blackface so you don't have to feel at all sorry for that old dog-less bigot.
It doesn't end there though. It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas came under fire from Bustle for reinforcing gender stereotypes. Santa Baby, 12 Days of Christmas (no, you heard that right), and, just to prove that humor is a dying practice, Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus are also recently on rundowns of "problematic" Christmas tunes.
If you'll notice, however, Deck the Halls is completely fine. In the future, it could potentially be the only Christmas song allowed. For one, it's nice and secular, so no mentions of Jesus or religion to offend people who aren't religious or practice other religions. Also, it appears to espouse a pro-LGBTQIA agenda requesting the listeners to don "gay apparel."
Oh, hold on, actually I'm now being told, yes, that the practice of cross-dressing is also potentially problematic. In fact, I'm seeing elsewhere that using the term cross-dressing is equally problematic so let's use the medical term transvestitism (hope that's ok). But yes, apparently even transvestitism is potentially an issue with the hypersensitive. I suppose we really are all doomed...
In all seriousness though, hope you and yours enjoy the Christmas holiday and may your moods be merry and bright, but may some of your Christmases be "of color" so as to promote diversity. Tune in next week when Everything Is Problematic tackles classic, Christmas cartoons and movies that are now considered to be too problematic to survive in this most perfect of all centuries here in the Current Year.