The humorless scolds have decided they are in charge, and for complicated reasons the rest of the culture is going along.
And they are driving us all crazy.
Then there’s the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” In 1944, the songwriter Frank Loesser began performing a skit in song form at the parties he attended in Hollywood with his then-wife, Lynn. He was “the wolf,” she the “mouse,” and they were together at his home when she decided to take her leave.
“Baby It’s Cold Outside” is one of the greatest entries in the American songbook, ineffably catchy and irresistibly witty.
The wit is contained in the fact that she wants to canoodle as much as he does but is required by social norms to resist … a little. The point of the song is that her protests are pro forma. They are knowingly, adorably disingenuous.
This isn’t date rape. It’s mutual foreplay; indeed, it’s just about the most harmonious portrayal of foreplay in the annals of Western culture. They are enjoying their own wit, and we are enjoying their wit.
But here’s the problem: Wit often eludes the literal. It did in 1949 when an Egyptian visitor to the United States named Syad Qutb heard “Baby It’s Cold Outside” at a church dance in Greeley, Colo. As it played, Qutb later wrote, “The room convulsed with the feverish music from the gramophone. Dancing naked legs filled the hall, arms draped around the waists, chests met chests, lips met lips.”
He left America and became a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and is considered the intellectual father of the Islamic extremism that found its darkest flowing in the 9/11 attacks.
Congratulations … You’ve given Sayid Qutb what he wanted. Radio stations in Denver, San Francisco and Cleveland all announced they were banning “Baby It’s Cold Outside” from their airwaves.