For several years I have been paying attention to the lyrics in the song. I have friends who speak through music so it has always been something I have noticed, especially as a poet.
Recognizing the spirit of a poet was probably the reason my dad wouldn’t let me listen to Alice Cooper as a kid. That’s also probably part of the reason I have always been a huge fan, but I also recognize that just because I like something doesn’t make it appropriate for everyone.
It’s usually kids that cause people to stop and think about the lyrics of the music they listen to. In general, if we listened to it as kids, it’s probably OK for kids to listen to now, but that is very much not the case.
For instance one of my favorite songs at this time of year is, “Baby it’s cold outside.” It’s more of a general winter song so I can listen to it until at least March without feeling awkward about carrying over Christmas.
I have always recognized the sinister undertones of that song, but this year it makes me emotional.
This has been part of the popular holiday repertoire for decades. Every so often it is renewed in a fun duo that sets us all singing once again.
It’s a fun song and, I am certain, intended to be not much more, which is why this year this song makes me sad.
In light of the intense sexual assault scrutiny that exists in the current climate, this fun loving song is no longer appropriate.
In the song, one person is coercing another person to stay longer with romantic intent. Without the performance, this song is about #metoo.
It’s both the performance and the understanding that allows us to understand that the individual really does want to stay.
If you have not played this game with someone, then you are missing out on a simple joy in life. I have played this with both friends and lovers, understanding that sometimes we’d prefer to enjoy the moment and forget responsibilities.
Actually I am fairly certain that it is a family tradition to ask a cousin if they would like one more cup of tea the moment they say it’s time to go, every time they say it’s time to go, all in the same visit. It’s their way of saying, “I love you. I wish I could spend more time with you.”
Certainly there are situations in which the conversation could be overheard where it is not at all what the frivolous song portrays, and that makes me angry.
It makes me angry that we have to set aside a cute little song because it represents a significant problem.
Among all the friendly banter is a horrifying line.
“Say what’s in this drink,” changes everything.
What had been a fun song that represented the annoying machismo of a cultural era just became indicative of the greater problem:
How often have we exposed our children to those small moments that we ignore without any explanation? It’s not like they didn’t hear it. When they do come across that situation, we have already shown them you can ignore it occasionally, especially if that person seems willing.
Or maybe we have used it as a teaching moment because we know we cannot control 100 percent of their environment.
Maybe we have taught them that sometimes people don’t think about things that they say or do, especially in movies and music. Maybe it’s a good time to learn that art can be a good expression of things we can’t share in other ways. It usually provides an excellent opportunity to teach how we have changed culturally and that can be reflected in the media around us.
It can also provide us the opportunity to stop and say this behavior is not OK. That’s why we don’t listen to this song.
I really don’t like the fact that I’m going to have to set this song aside and I cannot promise that I won’t listen to it when I’m alone, but I hate what it represents and I am willing to put myself out a little bit for the sake of setting a better example.
It may be a small change, but this is how we make the difference.
Beanie Taylor is a staff reporter with The Tribune. She can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.