Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Salty Pretzels: Baby, It's Stupid Outside

The Great Christmas Debate of 2018 has been much ado over a song. A song that features a duet between a man and a woman wherein the two exchange flirty banter over whether the woman will spend the night with the man. A song that was written in the 1940s when such a suggestion was completely scandalous. A song that includes a vague reference to there being a spiked drink that might lower the woman's inhibitions and protestations. The song, as depicted in this scene from Neptune's Daughter, that won an Academy Award back in 1949:

A song that has essentially become the latest indication that people are committed to arguing over utter stupidity, especially at this time of year when we already have more than enough to keep us preoccupied. Nothing says Christmas quite like an argument about writing "Xmas" or whether to say "Happy Holidays" to your non-Christian neighbor or whether it is sufficiently festive to drink your over-priced coffee in a red recyclable cup.

A radio station in Cleveland banned the song from its playlist after receiving a few complaints. Then there was a station in San Francisco that polled its listeners for a decision on the song after it received backlash for a similar decision. A station in Denver stopped playing it too, so I guess that is why the daughter of the song's composer lamented that her father's legacy was being tarnished by association with Bill "say what's in this drink" Cosby. Thus, we find ourselves in the throws of a pop culture civil war, with the decision by a radio station in Louisville, KY to play the song for two straight hours serving as a Ft. Sumter moment.

Over a song that was deemed problematic by three (3) radio stations. Mind you, there are other radio stations in Cleveland, San Francisco and Denver that probably did not remove the song from their playlists. And if you don't live in any of those cities, then it is safe to assume that you still had access to this song at least six times or more per day (as is required by the special FCC rules that mandate how often we are to subjected to various versions of the same Christmas song in a 24 hour period). So there was no nationwide effort, just a highly publicized decision made by a handful of program directors.

I am sitting here with a bag of special sour dough pretzels dusted with peppermint bark because in response to local programming decisions, the snowflakes have declared that #metoo has gone too far. All because of their sentimental attachment to a 1940s ditty about a guy begging for some booty. 

Never mind that no one has taken to the streets in pussy hats or tiki torches. Apparently I missed all of the furious organizing behind the scenes that called for boycotts of the radio stations that opted to keep the song in rotation. I'm assuming that women will be asked to wear their best LBD in protest to the office Christmas holiday party. Because my God, what else is next on the hitlist #metoo???

In the same week that folks were whining that #metoo is spoiling life as we know it, former CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves found out that his sexual harassing azz could not pass Go and thus, could not collect $120 million in severance. In the same month that a victims' event for R. Kelly accusers was shut down by a fake bomb threat, a major Black media outlet was hosting a poll to determine if he deserved to be honored as a King of R&B music. (I guess the real movement to #MuteRKelly doesn't matter, so feel free to keep this remixed version of that song on repeat this season...somehow I'm sure he would approve.)

Look, I am of the opinion that this song has issues (and plenty of people hold that same opinion), yet it's harmless, and I acknowledge the slippery slope arguments that have been offered in its defense. It is a legitimate question though, when does seduction become coercive? And maybe the hoohaw caused by this faux controversy will give us an opportunity to contemplate an appropriate response. It isn't #metoo that has gone too far; it is our acceptance of sexism, even in its so-called benign forms, as tolerable. Because if you have ever been alone with someone, you can attest that this "harmless" scenario could easily veer into a dangerous, life-altering tragedy if the other person ignores your requests to stop. If no means no, then it shouldn't matter if the person is singing it, saying it, or shouting it.

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