All afternoon, I have been thinking about the “Baby It’s Cold” by Dean Martin controversy. I wanted to write about the issue, but it is getting so much attention that I almost didn’t. But I have a few thoughts from an English teacher’s perspective, and this fits with the topic of banned books we have been talking about all semester. There are people saying that we shouldn’t play it because it supports the rape culture. Then there is Dean Martin’s daughter and others who point out the time period that it was written and the history of the song. From an English professor’s standpoint, both of these people are analyzing this song from different theories.
When we discuss literature in English classes, we often tell our students that there is no wrong way to interpret the literature as long as the argument is supported by the literature. The side that is complaining about the rape context is analyzing the song from a reader’s response or structuralism theory. They are looking at how the song fits with what they relate to and what they know. While the other side is using post structuralism or historical theory looking at the time period in which it was written. Both have good points and the literature supports it.
The real problem goes to censorship. The group protesting the song is trying to sensor what is aired and what people should listen to. This song is a classic, meaning that it is relatable to many generations. It should not be censored because some people find it offensive. We cannot and should not censor things for the few who speak loudly. There are many things in this world that are offensive, and we must learn to live with it. Life can be offensive at times, and if we do not know how to live with things and people who do not please us, we cannot function well in the world. Part of our rights is about free speech. Censorship impedes free speech.
This is like the book bannings that have happened in this country for decades. People find something in a book and contest the fact that it is in a library or a school. The book has something that the readers could benefit from, but it has bad language, violence, sex, drugs, witchcraft, racism, and many more issues. So, parents or others complain and try to get it taken off the shelves, but these are the things that need to be addressed to teach the lessons that need to be made. Learning about racism in a first person narrative is much more meaningful than being told that it is bad and that people are just people. Same with this song, if a parent or teacher thinks that this song is about the rape culture, then it needs to be used as a teaching tool instead of taken off the air. Those who see it as a classic should be allowed to enjoy it without criticism.
I like the classic songs. They are much more pleasing to me than most of the current ones, but I do not intend to tell r anyone what they can or cannot listen to. Please do the same for me and leave the song be.