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It’s Winter, So That Means It’s Time To Relitigate ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ For The Millionth Time

It seems like not a year goes by without a huge discussion on the merits of the beloved holiday classic song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and whether or not it’s “rapey” (it’s not). This has been quite a year for the song, and the latest in a surprisingly long list of incidents over it was Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, chiming in to add that the song is good (it is).

The CBC quickly changed course and put the song back into rotation. KOIT in California and KOSI in Denver also pulled about-faces on a ban after listener outcry. The radio station that started the trend in response to a single listener complaint, WDOK in Cleveland, appears to be sticking to its guns and hasn’t yet announced the song will be returning to the airwaves.

A lot of ink has been spilled about the Oscar-winning 1949 song, which appeared in the film Neptune’s Daughter.

Opinions range from it caused 9-11 to it’s an outdated song about rape and you should be ashamed of yourself for enjoying to it to the song is about a woman fighting against the slut shaming culture of the 1940s. The latter is much closer to the truth, as the duet is a choreographed dance of words where two people navigate the social mores around sex that ends with them singing the phrase “baby it’s cold outside” in unison, as clear a message as any that they’re spending the night together consensually.

All the annual outrage really proves is that, even though it isn’t “Christmas in Hollis,” people really like this song. No one is going to be outraged if radio stations start pulling “Wonderful Christmastime” from the air. The result of the controversy is that the song is having a moment of popularity with three different versions shooting up the Billboard charts. This isn’t the dead-cat bounce of too-online agitators buying something that’s shit to own the libs, either; the song has topped the Billboard adult contemporary charts on multiple occasions, as recently as last year.

People have genuinely loved this song for generations, whether it’s sung by Dean Martin, Zooey Deschanel or Seth MacFarlane. It’s been recorded by someone almost every year for the past 30 years and there are numerous versions older than that as well. It’s pretty easy to see why, too. It’s catchy and it’s one of the few Christmas songs about boning.

We have this conversation every year now, and people haven’t stopped loving the song. They’re probably not going to, either, especially not because people tell them they’re supposed to. And radio stations all over the country (and in other countries) have learned that pulling the song is incredibly unpopular.

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