homepage logo

Standard Deviations: Tales of sexual abuse make this world a cold one

By Mark Saal, Standard-Examiner Staff - | Nov 28, 2017

Oh, great. The perverts of this world have now spoiled one of my favorite holiday traditions.

Every year, sometime just after Thanksgiving, our family sits down to watch "Elf." The 2003 Christmas comedy stars Will Ferrell as Buddy, a guileless man-child who was raised by Santa's elves and goes looking for his biological father in New York City.

In one of my favorite scenes from the movie, Buddy overhears Jovie -- the love interest played by Zooey Deschanel -- singing the female part to "Baby, It's Cold Outside" in the employee shower of the women's locker room at Gimbels department store.

Drawn to the music, Buddy sits on a nearby bathroom sink counter, quietly singing the male part to the duet.

When Jovie realizes someone is in the locker room harmonizing with her, she warily peeks out of the shower stall to see Buddy sitting cross-legged on the counter.

"Get out!" she screams.

Startled, he stares in frozen horror.

"Don't look at me!" she commands. "Get out!"

He obediently claps his hands tightly over his eyes, jumps up and -- without the benefit of eyesight -- proceeds to run headlong into a bank of gym lockers.

It's a scene that is both funny and sweet. But it's also one that has been forever tainted, thanks to all of the sexual-misconduct stories flying around these days.

Harvey Weinstein. Al Franken. Louis C.K. Roy Moore. Charlie Rose. Kevin Spacey. The list goes on and on.

RELATED: Democrats face hot-potato politics of sexual predation, too

Granted, accusation doesn't equal conviction. But the sheer number of women crying "Me too!" should tell us that we have a very serious problem.

As the list of accusations grows, it's reflexively sent many men scurrying through their memories in search of anything that could be remotely construed as sexual harassment.

RELATED: Seven thorny questions for Washington on sexual harassment

Ironically, the song Deschanel sings in the "Elf" shower scene is also suspect. That song -- a duet featuring a male trying to convince a female to stay at his place -- includes lyrics that some have claimed hint at date rape: "Say, what's in this drink?"

A year ago, I might have called such accusations ludicrous. I'd never considered "Baby, It's Cold Outside" to be anything other than a romantic song about a consensual couple. But given recent events, it's hard not to see it for what it is on the surface -- a woman who's trying to say no to a man's relentless romantic/sexual advances.

All sorts of other heretofore seemingly harmless things are now being criticized on a much more public scale.

For example, earlier this month a British mom asked her 6-year-old son's school to banish the story of "Sleeping Beauty" from the classroom. Why? Because of its "unhelpful message about kissing sleeping girls."

In a similar vein, Girls Scouts offered a holiday reminder to parents that they should never insist their daughters "owe" anyone a hug or kiss when they receive a Christmas gift. Placing such requirements on your child can "set the stage for her questioning whether she 'owes' another person any type of physical affection when they've bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life," according to parenting advice at GirlScouts.org.

This is the world we live in. 

It's a world where our children's favorite fairy tales have failed us. A world where we have to think twice about whether or not to encourage our children to give grandma a hug. A world where we can't even watch a heartwarming holiday movie without being reminded of the slimy people all around us.

Because as cold as it is outside? Baby, it's pretty chilly in here, too.

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at Facebook.com/MarkSaal.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)