The lyrics of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" just got a questionable makeover.
Over the last few years, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" has gone from being that cutesy duet you probably first heard in Elf to a song banned by radio stations over the holidays. The tune, which was written by Frank Loesser and popularized in the 1949 film Neptune's Daughter, has left fans feeling more and more uncomfortable due to its suggestive lyrics, which have led many to wonder if they describe an instance of date rape.
In a scene where a male character is trying to keep a woman from leaving, she sings "My answer is no," before he responds that she can't possibly leave because of the heavy snow. "What's the sense of hurting my pride?" he asks as she tries to leave again, before she eventually exclaims, "Say, what's in this drink?" It's that line in particular that has made people question if the man in the scenario has slipped her something stronger than just alcohol.
In a new version of the song, titled "Baby, Just GO Outside," Penn Holderness — the patriarch of the YouTube-famous Holderness Family — takes a heavy-handed approach to changing some of the male part's more controversial lyrics.
- Woman: "I really can't stay."
- Holderness: "OK, you're free to go."
- Woman: "I've got to go away."
- Holderness: "Understood, no means no."
- Woman: "There's bound to be talk tomorrow."
- Holderness: "Hopefully not about us."
- Woman: "I simply must go."
- Holderness: "Uber is right outside."
As Vox's Emily Crockett wrote in her explanation for the song's annual holiday controversy, the original lyrics come off as "a little rapey." But Holderness's new edition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" misses the mark, too. The reason why people find the events described in the song troubling is because of how our perspectives about sexual consent and sexual assault have evolved since it came out in the 1940s, most recently with the #MeToo movement.
But, as we saw with the backlash to Henry Cavill's asinine comment to GQ in July about how he's scared to flirt with women because of #MeToo, lest he "be called a rapist or something," flirting and sexual assault are not the same thing. Flirting and rape are not the same thing. Context is key.
All of this is to say that Holderness's "Baby, Just GO Outside" is a condescending approach to course-correcting the song. With smug lyrics like "I know how to spell harassment" and "I do understand consent," the cover is making the song's male character the victim of a woman who won't take no for an answer, and it's putting all the responsibility on the woman to leave. Rather than fixing the uncomfortable vibe of the original, all Holderness's lyrics seem to do is mock the controversy, catering to an audience that feels the lyrics shouldn't have been criticized in the first place.
If you need a palate cleanser after watching the above take on the song, check out Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski's version, which is a much more effective way of tweaking the original lyrics to reflect consent.