Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dire Straits Song Deemed Unfit: One Man's Opinion

Well, over the weekend news that the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has banned the Dire Straits song Money for Nothing because it uses the word faggot three times and therefore it is not deemed to be unsuitable for air in 2011.

Now, there are a lot of jokes to be made about the quality of the actual song, but based on the content, I think this action is a mistake.

I can understand why the gay and lesbian community would find the use of that word off putting, but in the context, it doesn't seem as bad as it is being made out to be.

I think the thing that everyone who is arguing in favor of this ban is missing is the context. Mark Knopfler is singing as a bigoted character, and that is an important distinction. He is playing an Archie Bunker-type of character in 1985, so in that context such a person referring to someone like this:

in sexually dismissive and offensive terms makes that character look bad, even at that time. You aren't supposed to be sympathetic to the narrator of that song. You are supposed to think he is an asshole... that was the whole point.

Look, I am not condoning the use of that particular word, but when used in context, it can have a societally positive effect, and I wouldn't want such works to also be censored. Like something like Language of Violence by the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy or similar work which uses that language but in such a way to question its use rather than glorify it. Because I am sure there are other songs on the radio that have blanked out the actual word that really are hateful to the gay and lesbian community as a whole, and yet that is ok, isn't it because a word isn't there.

This is sort of similar to that whole Huck Finn brouhaha... though Money For Nothing isn't even in the same sport as the work of Mark Twain.

But I think the reason this action bothers me so much is I've gotten used to a certain level of intellectual freedom on our airwaves... that we didn't remove content because it made someone uncomfortable, and now some of that sense is gone now.


Peter Lynn said...

For the record, the real-life Archie Bunkers whose overheard conversation inspired Knopfler were actually talking about Mötley Crüe rather than Boy George.

Megan said...

LOL Peter! I lost complete track of my comment!

Arjan said...

..just plain silly to ban it from the radio.

Sometimes I'm glad I live in a country where people can say 'fuck' (or whatever) on the radio although sometimes they kinda milk it.
I can't imagine they'd ban this song overhere anytime soon.

MC said...

Peter Lynn: Good to know... especially knowing their road record with groupies. They infected a generation with their music... and their antics.

Megan: He knows comedy ju-jitsu!

Arjan: And the thing is, Canada is generally more open and liberal on our public airwaves than the US is. It upsets me that we are somehow becoming slightly closer to the States in that way.