Friday, January 14, 2011

Much Ado About Money For Nothing

It looks like I maybe swimming against the current on this one, but after turning this around in my head for a couple days, I am coming out as a supporter of the recent Canadian Broadcast Standards Council  CBSC decision to prohibit the word "faggot" in the song Money For Nothing, to be heard on Canadian airwaves.
The council (CBSC) is an independent, non-governmental group created to administer standards established by its members, Canada's private broadcasters. Its membership includes more than 700 private radio and TV stations across the country. 
Last year, a listener to radio station CHOZ-FM in St. John's complained that the '80s rock song includes the word "faggot" in its lyrics and is discriminatory to gays.
The broadcaster argued that the song had been played countless times since its release decades ago and has won music industry awards.
A CBSC panel concluded that the word "faggot," even if once acceptable, has evolved to become unacceptable in most circumstances
"See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup
Yeah buddy that’s his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot he’s a millionaire"

Do those lyrics do make you wince? They certainly did me in 1985. But we were all mesmerized by MTV then and watched the story of this little narrative play out with totally cool computer animations. The offending words made you take notice. But they were lost in the song's wicked music hook. And, it had a great beat to dance to. -  well, so does dancehall music.

We have evolved since 1985. Gays have put up with a lot of shit up until a short time ago. The hearing of that word shouted at you freezes your soul and fills you with panic. The word was and is often followed by sticks and stones. (and much worse)

Much of the defense of these lyrics lies in the context of the song. Mark Knopfler was singing in character as an appliance delivery guy bitching about rock stars and the cushy lives they have. He says he wrote down what they were saying almost verbatim. Not everyone got the irony. Go to any karaoke bar and listen to a bunch of drunks when that lyric rolls up on the monitor. It's right up there with the improvised bridge in Mony Mony.

Mark Knoefler has himself censored this song.   They're not to be found on the Dire Straight's Greatest Hits compilation, nor their live concert footage.  Seems times and sensitivities do change. Point is, the song isn't banned, those words are.
The song is great, with or without the offending word. 

Am I being too sensitive?

Dire Straits - Money for Nothing


  1. Anonymous14/1/11 17:33

    I don't think you're being to sensitive. IT's an ugly hate word that Mark Knoefler himself wisely doesn't use anymore. And as someone who was called 'faggot' more times that I can even remember, not hearing on our Canadian airways is OK by me, Ray.

  2. Thanks, Jeffrey. Glad you agree. Have to say we're not in the majority. Maybe if they walked a mile in our shoes...


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