Thursday, December 27, 2018

Offensive Songs and Stories

Recently I heard that a radio in Cleveland was banning the song, “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” I couldn’t believe that we have come to this.

According to the article,

“The song, first penned by Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls) in 1944 as a duet for him to sing with his wife at parties. Loesser later sold the song to MGM for use in 1949’s Neptune’s Daughter, in which the song plays seriously between Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban, and gender-swapped for humor between Betty Garrett and Red Skelton. In the years since, the duet has become an enduring holiday classic, sung by everyone from Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart to Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel to Chris Colfer and Darren Criss on an episode of Glee.”

There is nothing date-rapey about this song when it was written. It is a good old-fashioned holiday song. In fact, it was supposed to be romantic, but people can turn almost anything into something offensive if they really try. It all depends on the context it is used and how it is used.

If a rapist plays this song while raping someone, I would find it offensive too.

Words mean different things now than they did many years ago. Years ago I could use the word “gay” without it having to do with anything about homosexuals. The word “bad” used to mean not good but now it could mean great depending on how it is used.

I remember how some people tried to say that the story of Little Red Riding Hood was about sexual predators and the story of the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe had to do with child neglect!

One time on a trip, my friend was highly offended by the song YMCA by the Village People. I like the lyrics, but they don’t specifically talk about gay people.  It could be targeted to gay people, but I think over time it has become more than that. It is a fun song and if you take it in the context that the song is about the YMCA, it is a good song.

I remember my parents not letting me hear a lot of the Beatle’s songs because they felt they revered to drugs too much. But once I got to be an adult, I made my own choices.

I think it is important to teach students to look at lyrics and stories and to see how they can be viewed from different perspectives. This is a good way to teach students to do critical thinking.

What do you think about song lyrics and their impact? Please share.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash


No comments: