Friday, January 14, 2011

The language shows no signs of abating.

In a recent ruling by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (based on a single complaint by a Newfoundland resident), a 25-year-old Dire Straits song (“Money For Nothing”) was seen to contain enough offensive material to be banned from broadcast in this country.

When I heard the decision, my first thought was the opening guitar lick, which attempts to recycle the rhythm and many of the intervals of the Rolling Stones’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. However, as details emerged, it was the word “faggot” (sung three times) that has caused the commotion.

Context being everything (and nothing), I Googled the lyrics. As those familiar with the song will know (and who didn’t hear it enough when it first came out), the lyric is from the perspective of a embittered working man, quite possibly an African-American, given the language (“mama”), leading me to wonder, Is it the anti-gay reference or the negative depiction of an African-American working man that is at issue?

More repugnant to me is a noun that recurs more than any other (at least 20 times), and that, coincidentally, is the name of a broadcaster, one that has had an even bigger hand in the infantilization of the culture: MTV.

In a more recent release, a Dire Straits band member has said that the group has taken to using the word “fudger” (not to be confused with "fudge packer") in place of “faggot”. But I don’t think they are taking it far enough. If they really wanted to turn this number around, they would have taken a page from Huckleberry Finn.

1 comment:

  1. Strange that the reference to women as "chicks" in the same song is perfectly acceptable; unless, of course, they meant chickens.