After a radio station pulled the song from their Christmas line-up, the actor, 87, argued with fans on Tuesday, claiming that the 1940s holiday song should be played despite criticism that it promotes rape culture.
“Call in to CBC radio all day and get them to play ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ over and over until midnight!” Shatner tweeted in response to the radio station’s decision.
When fans lashed out at the former Star Trek actor, Shatner said not playing the song was censorship.
“I would think that censorship of classics because certain ‘types’ need to judge things through their own 2018 myopic glasses and demand they be stricken from history is important. Or is this 1984 only 34 years too late?” he wrote.
Other fans expressed their disapproval for the actor’s support of the song by accusing him of putting being entertained over the plight of sexual assault victims. In response, Shatner turned to the original video from 1949 to defend his argument.
“Have you watched the original choreography, myopic Peter or are you one of those who needs to take the lyrics & extrapolate worst case?” he tweeted back. “You must clutch your pearls over rap music.”
In a separate tweet, Shatner added: “The choreography is the interpretation of the lyrics from the timeframe when it was written(1940’s.) If 2018 prudes want to interpret the lyrics as something else; the problem obviously lies in their own minds not in the original lyrics.”
And even after the Canadian radio station restored “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” on their Christmas line-up, Shatner couldn’t resist poking fun at the people who supported the song’s removal.
“I’d still call and request the song be played just to stick it to the Myopia Censorship Club members,” he tweeted.
Shatner’s Twitter feud comes just two weeks after a Cleveland, Ohio radio station pulled the song from its 24-hour Christmas rotation because of listener complaints.
At the end last month, WDOK Christmas 102.1 received a call complaining about the song, according to local Fox 8 news. After a listener poll on the WDOK website supported this sentiment, station programmers decided to ban it.
Over the last several years, and particularly in the era of the #MeToo movement, many have suggested the song normalizes date rape in reference to the lyrics “Say, what’s in this drink?” The song details a back-and-forth, traditionally between a man and a woman, where the man tries to convince a woman to stay the night despite her continued protests, saying, “The answer is no.”
“People might say, ‘Oh, enough with that #MeToo,’ but if you really put that aside and listen to the lyrics, it’s not [a situation] I would want my daughter to be in,” midday host Desiray told Cleveland’s Fox 8. “The tune might be catchy, but let’s maybe not promote that sort of an idea.”
Since pulling the song, several other radio stations have followed suit — but not all listeners have been happy about it.
National Public Radio reported that at least two stations, one in San Francisco and another in Denver, ultimately decided to hold a vote to determine whether the song would be heard on their airwaves.
Brian Figula, the program director at the former, KOIT, described the response as a “tornado,” and the outlet cites “hundreds of comments on social media and via email” that demanded “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” be put back on the playlist.
“People are unbelievably passionate about their Christmas music,” Figula explained. “It’s the one thing that you can’t mess with … [Listeners rely on it] to reminisce to the good old days when life was easy and simple.”
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In addition, several stars personally connected to the song have spoken out on the controversy including Deana Martin (the daughter of Dean Martin, who performed the song in 1959) and Susan Loesser (the daughter of the song’s composer, Frank Loesser).
“I know my dad would be going insane right now… He would say, ‘What’s the matter with you? Get over it. It’s just a fun song.’ Because he was so sweet,” Deana said of her father’s reaction to the controversy. “He would never see anything bad in that.”
“People used to say, ‘What’s in this drink?’ as a joke. You know, ‘This drink is going straight to my head so what’s in this drink?’ Back then it didn’t mean you drugged me … Absolutely I get it,” Loesser added. “But I think it would be good if people looked at the song in the context of the time. It was written in 1944.”
Despite arguments about the song’s contentious nature, several versions of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” have surged in sales and streaming, and continue to draw airplay on the radio in the latest tracking week, according to Nielsen Music.