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

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Words. Kill. People.

We can play a little "Travis Bickle" with these words. But no matter where you put the inflection, the meaning is clear. Words do have the power to incite violence and murder.
As a result of what has happened on January 8th in Tucson AZ, there is now a very heated debate with much handwringing from the left and mudslinging from the right taking place. 

Normally, I brush off Sarah Palin, the Tea Baggers and the Fox News assholes who vomit  misinformation and fear mongering as extremists who couldn't possibly be taken seriously. 
Well, guess what?  They are - and by millions of gun-toting Americans.
Her speech today struck me as being very revealing not only because she  made herself and her movement the victim but she said something so ridiculously hypocritical that I  realized these people; Beck, Limbaugh, Roberts etc. are so immersed in extremism that reality is whatever they say it is.  

"Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible." – Sarah Palin, Jan12, 2011

To use the term "blood libel" demonstrates an incredible amount of ignorance and insensitivity.  Do you think she knows what blood libel means? Does she know how loaded those two words are with centuries of prejudice and horrific persecution? The most galling thing about her speech is that fostering a climate of fear and hate is her movement's modus operandi.

And with the collaboration of Fox News who has a loyal audience representing a third of Americans, Sarah and company have a huge  bullhorn with which to broadcast their messages of hate and paranoid unabated.

I agree totally with TV critic, John Doyle who states in today's Globe and Mail:
"It has come to pass: Fox News does indeed define the U.S. political culture and the manner of debate inside that culture. It is to blame, but blame must be tempered by our understanding that Fox News is America and America is Fox News. There will be neither silence nor a change of tone until the Fox News Channel changes, or shuts up. That’s not going to happen. Look at the ratings. The ratings don’t lie."
Words do matter
It's been a while since politicians engaged in civil discourse – on either side of the border. Fox News and the ideologues that speak from it's soapbox are reaping what they sow. 
It's time to plough the crop of crap under.

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