Perhaps you’ve seen the meme going around about the irony that “Baby It’s Cold Outside” was temporarily taken off several Canadian radio stations last year (I thought it was in 2018, but I could be wrong…) and now, this week in 2020 the most popular song is “WAP” by Cardi B. The meme said to “let that sink in,” so I decided to do that. I let it sink in and I do believe I have a better understanding of this apparent irony. May I share?
For those of you who are not aware of “WAP,” it is a song where Cardi B explicitly spells out what she wants a man to do with her sexually. The song is so explicit it gets heavily censored when played on the radio. The title itself is an acronym, one that I will not deconstruct. But I’m sure some of you will Google it and shake your head as you read a few lines. What is this world coming to??
On the other hand, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” though filled with sexual innuendo, does seem to be innocent enough. It seems like it’s meant to be given to listeners with a wink and a smirk. You can imagine someone smiling while saying to the singer, “Oh you’re so bad!” in a playful reprimand. Well… “WAP” sure ain’t like that!
But let’s look at this from another perspective.
Let me first state: 1) I am not a fan of Cardi B. No, not in the slightest. Not much of a fan about any of the new music coming from these danged young people, just like any other self-respecting grumpy old man. Furthermore, 2) I am ok with “BICO” to be played on the radio. The song is nuanced today, but asking for its removal may be a little drastic. I would be ok with either song being either kept or removed from the radio. Radio stations, do your thing. I know how to use a dial. And how to put together a playlist, despite my grumpy-old-man-ness.
With those caveats behind us, let’s consider this… “WAP” is about sex between two consenting adults. Not all of us are ok with that being sung about in such an irreverent way, not to mention being made available to the public to listen to, including impressionable kids. However, that has more to do with each of us and our comfortability with the subject of sex. Cardi isn’t singing about hurting anyone, despite how much her music might hurt the ears.
“BICO” on the other hand has been criticized as of late because the male character in the song, as we all know well, is trying hard to not only convince a woman to stay and get… cozy… with him but is appearing to not take no for an answer, and may or may not be trying to weaken her resolve with strong drink (or whatever is in that drink). There is even a line that teases the idea she may be a minor.
But this song hasn’t been under fire in recent days because we are all just too darned sensitive and can’t take a sexually suggestive song. It is because we live in a different time now. We know better. Testimonies of countless victims have changed how we think and how we interact. Sure, the protests may seem annoying, but doesn’t it feel good to know that you are alive at a time when being “rape-y” is not ok and gets called out so quickly?
And perhaps we don’t like it when people throw out the “if it was a man” argument, but consider for a moment that “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot only garnered grimaces, giggles, and the odd “Do you know what that song is actually saying? Hahaha, don’t sing that song. Trust me! Hahaha.” Whereas Cardi’s song is just plain tasteless and deplorable. What is this world coming to? And Mix-a-Lot’s song was recorded 28 years ago. What is this world coming to? Actually not much has changed.
Also remember that artists will often throw things in the face of their critics. An actor pours his heart and soul into a performance and all he hears after is how he wore an ugly pink tie, the next time he’s in front of a camera he might get himself all decked out in hot pink. A songstress is mocked for a song that doesn’t seem to make sense, she might make the next one ten times more convoluted. Or maybe insultingly oversimplify it as if she’s addressing third graders. This is especially true when the criticism seems shallow. In fact, those who get offended by sexual talk are often the ones who poke and prod entertainers, often catapulting them into notoriety and/or superstardom.
And let’s just take a peek into the Black Lives Matter movement for a second. When an unarmed teenage boy got shot in the back, many of us responded with “Yes, but…” When an unarmed woman without a criminal record got shot multiple times in her own home, many of us responded with “Yes, but…” Since “WAP” has hit the top of the charts with all its vulgarity, I have yet to hear any of us respond with “Yes, but…” Yes, these are very different matters. But we have to take a hard look at what shocks us. It says a lot about who we are and what we value.
So… I did let it sink in. This is what I found.
And now we turn our attention to a woman who is badass for all the right reasons. Gal Gadot was a struggling young actress who had made a definite decision to give up on acting. She was not getting any significant roles and the 15-hour trips back to home in Israel made it all the more discouraging. She decided to try out for just one more part as a final effort. It was only a reading and she had no idea what the part was for (None of the auditioners did.). It was only after her first call back that she was told she was on the short list for playing Wonder Woman. Thankfully, she was the one they’d settled on.
Congratulations Wonder Woman. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Best Actor: Woody Harrelson as Hamitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games.
Best Quote: “Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be.” — Gal Gadot as Diana Prince in Wonder Woman.
And seeing as the nominees this week were badass female characters, here’s a tip of the hat to a real life badass who left the world too early: The Notorious RBG. She fought for causes that not everyone was on board with, but she proved herself to be a woman of virtue who’s honest desire was to help people and make the world a better place. Like Diana Prince in Wonder Woman, she wanted to “fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.”