Baby, That Song’s a Mess (But Do You Listen Any Less?)
The holidays are here, and so are the annual holiday culture wars.
It’s a time of year when people gather with their loved ones, engage in a little good cheer, and grin (or cringe) their way through their favorite songs or movies, even the ones that may not have aged so well. So tell us: how do you do it?
These debates are relevant year-round — Do you still watch reruns of “The Cosby Show”? What about a film produced by Harvey Weinstein? — but they are supercharged by the collision of the #MeToo movement and the hidebound traditions of the holiday season.
Maybe you hum along to “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” despite the murky and much-debated power dynamic between the duet partners. Does the woman in that song actually want to stay? And, hey, what is in her drink?
Do you watch “Love, Actually,” even though when you stop and think about it, some of its romantic subplots involve what might be considered workplace sexual harassment? Or “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which was criticized in a widely shared HuffPost video for its portrayal of bullying?
Or perhaps you sing along to “Fairytale of New York,” a Christmas duet by The Pogues that has become part of the latter-day holiday songbook. It portrays a couple’s descent into alcoholism and includes a homophobic lyric, and the man calling the woman an “old slut,” leading to calls to ban it from the radio in Britain and Ireland, where the band is from.
The band’s lead singer, Shane MacGowan, said in a statement to Irish news media that the characters in the song use that language because they are not supposed to be nice people.
“I’m absolutely fine with them bleeping the word out,” he said. “I don’t want to get into an argument.”
As they say on the internet: sometimes your faves are problematic. Here is a chance to talk about them.
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