I’m quite happy to refer to myself as a faggot. This is madness. Why spoil a great song for ridiculous PC reasons?
Would it be acceptable to have a song making derogatory remarks about ethnic minorities?
No. So there is no reason for that word either.
I don’t like the word faggott at all (except for when it is a hearty winter meal), but this song is over 30 years old, it’s not as if it had been written today. Also, it’s hardly murder music like the crap that comes out of the Carribbean, calling for gays to be killed.
Paul – are you really happy to refer to yourself with such an insulting word? I’m sorry, but I don’t understand that in the slightest. Anyone who called me that would be quickly sitting on their rear end!
Paul – Are you one of those self loathing gays?
Great song? Sung by Dire Strates!
Yes – very dire.
When he sings this is he taking on a persona? It is him reporting back what he has heard other people say about him, isn’t it? The song is about workmen complaining that rock stars get their money for doing nothing. It’s the same with ‘Fairytale of New York’ which is played constantly everywhere each Christmas and used the same word.
I guess Canada’s version of Ofcom is treating homophobic language in the same way that it treats racist words.
@ Paul – “I’m quite happy to refer to myself as a faggot”
Good for you, you stupid bitch faggot. I suppose you think it would be alright for a white guy to write a song about niggas or coons, or someone who isn’t disabled to write a song about being a spaz.
They’re joking, right? Yes “faggot” is a very negative word, but the song isn’t actually against the “faggot”, it’s laughing at the idiot who uses that word. The songwriter is in fact rather complimentary of the “faggot” who has his own jet-airplane and is a millionaire. I wish people would spend more time protecting gays from actual threats and real harassment, not perceived insults and politically-incorrect word usage!
I’m happy to take back the word Faggot in the same way that others have taken back the word Queer. It’s just a word.
If we take back derogatory words, they lose the power to hurt. I find it quite empowering & it certainly takes the wind out of people’s sails if I use it happily about myself.
I’m not a self-loathing person. Far from it.
@ Dromio; yeah I was going to mention fairytale of new york.
I don’t see why it’s a big deal, sometimes PC can go way overboard.
Hmm…faggot is offensive? I know it is to some people, true enough.
But if they didn’t use faggot, they would have used some other word in exactly the same way (and have done, frequently).
When will we learn that the word is not what contains the insult. The insult is in the intention of the person using the word.
I have been called British and spat upon. I have been called British and hugged.
Take a step back, guys, and get some perspective.
(I am actually trans, but we have the same issue with the word tranny)
Well, a good comparison for us to consider is the Agatha Christie novel, ‘And Then There Were None’. This book was originally called ‘Ten Little Niggers’, the title under which it was published and sold for many years. Why not srgue, as some do here, that the novel is over 50 years old etc…? So, how many of you would like to see THAT title re-instated and on bookshops’ shelves?
People who refer to themselves as faggots are not self-loathing, but rather ensuring that when others call them by the same word it loses its capacity to hurt because, hey, they already know they’re a faggot. The word ceases to be an insult and becomes instead a statement of fact and therefore much easier to laugh off.
I know it works for me, anyway.
I agree with Canada’s action on this.
Let’s not forget the wave of teenage suicides prompted by bullying and name-calling.
Actually, mmmmmmmmm, if the word faggot offends you it is because of the meaning YOU place on the word. If it ofends you so much, maybe you need to question your own internalised homophobia? Paul is comfortable with the word because he is a) comfortable in his own skin and b) not a PC loon constantly on the lookout for words to airbrush from history. “Faggot” today, “queer” tomorrow…soon we’ll be demonizing the word “gay” itself until people are too scared to even open their mouths. What a truly crazy, f–ked up world we live in.
Those two songs (Money for nothing and Fairytale of New York) don’t really bug me as much as some think they should as in both cases the narrator isn’t talking in the first person.
In the first instance it’s some bigoted blue collar removal man carping on about pop stars he sees as he’s lugging furniture around a recording studio.
In the second it’s a relationship bust up between a couple of drunken winos in a police cell in NYC.
If you want a more striking example Pink Floyd’s rock opera “The Wall” has some highly controversial lyrics in the song “In the flesh?” in which the central character, a burned out drug addled rockstar called ‘Pink’ imagines himself as an unthinking facist demagogue and starts telling his unquestioning fans that he intends to round up the gays and have the lot of them shot.
But within context it’s shown to be part of his downward spiral into addiction and madness.
Similar issues occur when you have a bigoted TV sitcom character such as Alf Garnet. It’s down to whether the audience thinks they should be laughing with him or at him.
Buju Banton puts his own name to the bigotry. That would be the difference for me.
I’m happy to take back the word Faggot in the same way that others have taken back the word Queer. It’s just a word.
If we take back derogatory words, they lose the power to hurt. I find it quite empowering & it certainly takes the wind out of people’s sails if I use it happily about myself.”
This is very foolish. Words have meaning and power. This weird reclaiming of insults just means it legitimises its use all over again. The word should be frowned upon regardless of who uses it. If you use it to describe yourself, people will just laught at you still, not with you. I disagree with using ‘queer’ on the same grounds.
“Actually, mmmmmmmmm, if the word faggot offends you it is because of the meaning YOU place on the word. If it ofends you so much, maybe you need to question your own internalised homophobia? Paul is comfortable with the word because he is a) comfortable in his own skin and b) not a PC loon constantly on the lookout for words to airbrush from history. “Faggot” today, “queer” tomorrow…soon we’ll be demonizing the word “gay” itself until people are too scared to even open their mouths. What a truly crazy, f–ked up world we live in.”
Ok, you’re obviously not very bright for several reasons. Firstly, I didn’t turn faggot into an insult, some Americans did, it is hardly ME that placed the negative meaning to it. Secondly, if you had read my post, I didn’t advocate banning the song. I cited its historical context and, if you know the song, you’d understand that it is reporting someone else’s behaviour, not giving the opinion of the singer/songwriter.
And lastly, you’ve made yourself look very uneducated and irrational by using that whole ‘you don’t agree with me, so you must be a self-hating gay’ crap. It still amazes me how many sad people on here trawl that out. On every occasion, it is from someone who has very little to say of substance and who doesn’t have the intelligence to understand what the poster has written. Not to mention that you have ‘confirmed’ that Paul Kirwan is comfortable in his skin. Do you know him personally? How have you managed to deduce that from one two-line post? Talk about baseless theories, you’d make a crap scientist!
All of this makes you look very daft. If you don’t even understand the power of words, then I doubt you’d understand much else.
Excellent series of points.
William, take note.
I did not know the song even had the word in it until now!
You know the sad thing is as a kid I remember a school coach trip that included the playing and singing of that song a lot.
Also it must be said in the 80′s the word faggot was just offal meat balls in gravy!
We should not appropriate the American meaning of the word.
For what its worth, I always thought it was meant to be some knuckle scraper expressing his jealousy of someone like Elton John. AS for the word “faggott” itself, it has no real sting for me, its not British English. Same as fag and ciggy.
So they’re replacing a derogatory word for gays with the word “mother”?
I’ve never understood why calling someone a “Mother” as a massive insult, or “Motherf**her” is not seen as derogatory to women as a concept. Maybe because casual sexism is so ingrained that it isn’t even seen as an issue.
Out of all the slang nouns that can be used – swear word or otherwise – to decribe someone they dislike immensly, think is pathetic, and imply, lyrically, they have no respect for; they choose “faggot” and then “mother”.
Language and its use is interesting. We shape what our language and words mean by the context we use them in, and they in turn can shape how we see other people and they see us.
So….it’s not as simple as this reaction being a PC response.
It’s not a word I would use, because I am not American.
Well, at least I’m happy enough about myself to use my real name.
I love the way language evolves & hate censorship of all types. I can’t see any reason why the Agatha Christie novel, for example, needed re-titling. It was of its time. What’s the big deal?
If you listen to kids these days they use the word “gay” to mean “lame”.
Language evolves. Groups reclaim words to take the sting out of them. It happens all the time. I know travelling people who happily refer to themselves as “Pikeys” for the same reason.
Sticks & stones…
Dire Straits . . . in this instance, appears to do what it says on the label . . . O dear
On the theme of . . . O dear
O dear . . . More self-loathing, more low self-esteem, more PC screaming gays . . . I see on this thread again!!!
This stupid, as others said he isn’t calling anyone a faggot. Its portraying a blue collar worker of the time resenting mucisians having a great life for what they see little effort.
I think it’s a brilliant song and is quite accurate for the times, this is just pc gone mad.
Personally I see these songs as being like a drama set to music with the singer playing a role the same way an actor would.
In most of the above instances we’re not intended to share the characters worldview on any deep level, whether the bitter bigoted removal man in “money for nothing”, the drunken couple having a no-holds-barred marital spat in a police cell in “Fairytale of New York” or wannabe facist junkie rockstar in Pink Floyd’s “in the Flesh”.
They are deeply disfunctional characters in a mini-drama set to music.
In the same way, Shakespeare’s mass-murderer Macbeth wasn’t intended as a role model for ambitious junior management types.
Why are these words only considered offensive if a non-gay/black/disabled person says them?
Either they are offensive words or they aren’t. Why would you expect non-minorities to consider them offensive, and then expect them not to be offended just because a person who the term pertains to says it? Or do you wish to have some kind of privilege over others?
It should have been banned for being crap years ago
I agree with the people saying that this song should have been banned years ago sue to being bad…
As for the whole faggot-naming thing, it is stupid and counter-productive for the gay rights movement for a song to be censored because it says faggot a few times in an ironic tone.
I’ve never been offended by the work “faggot” and except for some kids aping Americans I’ve hardly ever heard it spoken in real life . . . not in Manchester anyway.
When I was growing up the words shouted at me were Homo & gay but the words themselves meant little, it was the venom behind them that was threatening.
I worked at Polygram Distribution in Canada when the recording was first released and all the product managers were raving about it. I felt hurt , slighted and
marginalised. That was then but this is now. I got over it.
Incidentally the ban applies only to privately owned radio stations.
CBC, the national broadcaster, delighted in playing it several times the other day, and opened up the lines for discussion.
“Actually, mmmmmmmmm, if the word faggot offends you it is because of the meaning YOU place on the word. If it offends you so much, maybe you need to question your own internalised homophobia? “Faggot” today, “queer” tomorrow…soon we’ll be demonizing the word “gay” itself until people are too scared to even open their mouths. What a truly crazy, f–ked up world we live in”.
So this is how, as adults, we’re supposed to tell the next generation to cope with homophobic bullying? Tell them it’s all their own fault for “internalising” homophobia? How F-cked-up, indeed.
The point is, homophobes already regard these words as socially acceptable. Are these the same people “scared to open their mouths” for fear of offending? Awww! Those poor ickle homophobes!
What kind of person casually uses those words in everyday vocabulary anyway? You? Or the person holding the broken bottle to your throat because they’ve clocked you as being “gay” after a night out?
Justifying a free-for-all by claiming that words have no power, and it’s up to the individual how to take it, goes against hundreds of years of history. Tell people it’s okay to hate, that homophobia has no consequences, and segregation will follow as surely as night into day.
When you’re picking broken teeth up from the pavement – punched out by those same thugs you don’t mind empowering – remember that THIS is the direct cause. Homophobes aren’t born, they’re educated.
Trust me, “faggot” is no more a term of endearment as calling someone a “f-cking c-nt”.
Here’s a tissue. To wipe the blood from your eyes.
Oh, gosh . . . I’m rather with Paul Kirwan on this one – and Flapjack’s explication is dead-on.
I find “faggot” offensive when it’s used to slur or attack me personally.
“Don’t call me a faggot, not unless you are a friend” (a lyric by Joe Jackson, in the song “Real Men”) is an intentional usage that makes a point.
I’m American, so the “cigarette” meaning of “fag” is one that I’ve known about (and my late Dad, who was in the Air Force and served with Brits used it casually until about 1980).
Christopher Isherwood observed that he liked “the crisp karate-chop sound of the word ‘faggot,’” but he preferred “musical” or “so” over “gay” because it was a generational usage.
I’m a gay American with an appreciation for the word “queer” (the concepts of “queer theory” and especially “queer theology” and “queer poetry” occupy much of my writing).
I tend to be “gay” with straight friends, “queer” with LGBTQ friends (who are comfortable with the word), and find that single-sytllable words are easier to employ – because “non-heterprogenitive-conforming” stops conversations dead.
I also remember the initial 1980 controversy over this song. Knopfler’s explanation (“the words of a character who hates his job, his work, and envies the easy life of ‘money for nothing’”) remains valid.
“I’ve never been offended by the work “faggot” [and] I’ve hardly ever heard it spoken in real life . . . not in Manchester anyway”.
Hilarious! I can’t actually believe this was written by an adult in charge of their own faculties. Unless that’s you having a laugh, Stephen Green? Haha.
“I worked at Polygram Distribution in Canada when the recording was first released and all the product managers were raving about it. I felt hurt, slighted and
NOW you’re getting it… You may be over it now but, if unchallenged, homophobia sets like a cancer in the next generation.
Many seem to rush to judgement without even listening to this song and realising what it is all about, as “Dromino” pointed out.
This is a classic case of taking something totally out of context.
Next we’ll hear that Peter Tatchell is being taken to task for using the words “batty boy” in his campaign against reggae ‘hate lyrics’.
Suggested on-line reading on the Dire Straits controversy (or sould that be “dire straights”?) . First Mark Twain, Next Mark Knopfler, Now That Ain’t Workin’, by CBC’s senior Washington correspondent Neil Macdonald. http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2011/01/13/f-rfa-macdonald.html
Ian Bower :Paul – Are you one of those self loathing gays?
I’m not. It’s all the other faggots I loathe.
As Mark Knopfler said himself:
“There are stupid gay people as well as stupid other people, it suggests that maybe you can’t let it have so many meanings – you have to be direct.”
I AM GAY… A statement I know to be well-accepted and respected here in Canada. Faggot is a very derogatory and negative word towards the gay community ! Our youth has to have positive images of themselves- faggot calling certainly does not help them in their struggles to come to terms with their gayness as teenagers. Let us help them !!!!!!!!
If people understand the meaning of the song, its ok. I’ve looked at the lyrics and I get what he’s trying to say. But there are people out there who don’t realise Alf Garnett is irony who would actually think the song is anti-gay and identify with the ‘character’. That’s the problem.
Love the Mark Knopfler quote.
As others have said above, the word isn’t the problem. It’s the intent of those using it that counts.
If I use it about myself, that’s ironic & empowering.
I haven’t heard any feminists complaining about the use of the word “chicks” in the song we’re discussing. It could be perceived as a derogatory term, but most people see it in context.
I think that by embracing the word “faggot” about myself I am helping the next generation _not_ to be so upset by name-calling.
Time to move on to more important issues methinks.
Can`t believe we`re struggling for equal rights around the world and some faggots enjoy being called as such !!! Are we moving forward or heading back in time ?????
Paul Kirwan wrote
“I think that by embracing the word “faggot” about myself I am helping the next generation _not_ to be so upset by name-calling.”
. . . . . . . . . . .
No . . . you are helping the next generation think that it is ok to call you names.
Paul . . . why do you like being called names?
Paul . . . in what way does having people call you homophobic names, help you feel good about yourself?
If it can empower you, it can empower others – our enemies. Also, you are setting a bad example – young people copy adults. If they hear you using that word about yourself and your other gay friends, they will pick it up and think it’s fine to use – but probably not in a nice context. And potentially insulting a lot of people. You are helping no-one by continuing to use it. And I say that for n***er, queer or anything else. Poofter is probably the one word I don’t have a problem with because there seems to be less hatred in it, more an implication that you are bit camp and weak. It could be used to describe camp straight men as well. Still, if it was used too much today, I might think of it differently.
Re ‘chicks’, this is colloquial and not offensive. The word doesn’t remotely imply that women are sub-human, cheap or disgusting. It is not comparable to faggot as it is not hate speech in the slightest. Bad example.
Faggot is a word I associate with the most disgustingly bigotted people in American society. And it’s sadly becoming more common here to. If you think this issue isn’t important enough, then maybe you’d like to be an American gay guy in high school and see what you reckon there.
there was an interview with the guys from Dire Straits about how they wrote the song (can’t remember if it was Mark K or who…) anyway, it was about he overheard a TV sales/home improvement center guy say the phrase.
so yeah, its not really dire straits saying that, they’re only repeating what was said.
as long as it doesn’t get repeated out of context by some stupid bnp-voting daily mail reading twat, its ok.
on the other hand, i was watching OFAH the other night where Del boy says “go get yourself an ice cream from the paki shop”… but i’m just quoting, see?
You need to feel the sting (the venom, as someone said) of being called ‘faggot” in public, at school, at church, at the shops, the beach, or in your own garden by a neighbor…as a younster or a senior…. to realise the the word is crippling and deadly.
Whilst I don’t have a problem with the songs mentioned here, I do agree with Rose’s point.
An educated listener understands artistic context, a casual listener might not.
When Pink Floyd first released “in the Flesh” for example the National Front [essentially the BNP before they rebranded themselves] took the Nuremburg rally allusions out of context and adopted it as a political anthem, much to the band’s dismay.
If they’d listened to the end of “the Wall” they would have heard the final track on the album is actually rooting for ‘the bleeding hearts and artists’.
They are trying to get through to the burnt out downward spiralling central character, who has degenerated into a facist demagogue by building a metaphorical wall to distance himself from other people.
The last line reads “And when they’ve given their all/ Some stagger and fall, after all it’s not easy/ banging your heart against some mad bugger’s wall”.
The problem when writing about a bigot or fascist in a dramatic context is that some people will miss the point and assume the writer shares the worldview of the character they’ve created.
“Are there any Queer’s in the audience tonight?
Get them up against the wall!!”
Pink Floyd could be just as guilty as Dire Straits. It’s like making out that actors that play bad guys ARE bad guys. Can we not play roles and use metaphors to get our point across?
Both the PF and DS songs are close to 30 years old. A recent article I read complained of the censorship of the word ‘n*gger’ in Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn novels even though they are considered classic American literature written 140 years ago.
Interestingly, this site actually prevented me from typing the full ‘n’ word on here. If Mark Twain could use it, why can’t I?
Censorship is insidious.
Paul, mmmm etc., Chicks is a veryoffensive word for women, implying their objectification as possessions for men, whose opinions count for nothing as long as they look good and put out for the man on request. In this instance, that word was used by the same unreconstructed character that used ‘faggot’. It’s thesame fight against the same mentality.
“Interestingly, this site actually prevented me from typing the full ‘n’ word on here. If Mark Twain could use it, why can’t I?”
. . . . . . . .
What is the issue?
Chicks is an offensive word becasue it perpetuates the idea that women they should be subordination to the desires of men.
Chicks is an offensive word becasue it perpetuates the idea that women should be subordinate to the desires of men.
“Paul, mmmm etc., Chicks is a veryoffensive word for women, implying their objectification as possessions for men, whose opinions count for nothing as long as they look good and put out for the man on request. In this instance, that word was used by the same unreconstructed character that used ‘faggot’. It’s thesame fight against the same mentality.”
Sorry, I think that’s crap. I have never even heard a woman attempt to complain about the term ‘chick’ – although I can well-imagine some militant feminists doing so. It’s no different in its power to degrade than lass, bird or anything of that ilk. Broad, yeah, I could see how that could be a bit impolite. But the rest, nah. Chick is no worse than bloke, guy or chap. If you want to see it as calling for the subordination of women, then you will definitely see it that way. Ask the general population what they think – and I doubt anyone has a real problem with it.
In any case, it is certainly not comparable to faggot, dyke, lesbo or queer.
So “chick” or “bird” is comparable to say, “Pooftah”? ;)
Any word can be used offensively by applying a particular tone or context. A bitch can be a dog or it can be a nasty woman. But some words are just nasty regardless of how they are used.
“some words are just nasty regardless of how they are used”
That’s just daft. Words in themselves aren’t nasty, the way people use them can be.
Words can hurt only when meant in harmful way and if you are weak enough. Some people are. It is not the case with this song. We should embrace tolerance. Black, Jew, we gay and any other “minorities” should be less thin skin. Walking in Gay pride parade in 5 inch heels (no platforms) toughness you up. So does marriage and charity work. Self respect comes from within.
This song is not homophobic. The Gay 80s had plenty of homosexual performers and these lyrics (remember the animated video on MTV?) are depicting some macho tv repairman making a bemused observation.
Political correctness only creates idiots, as we rewrite history to blot out everything that made us, US. One can’t even use a phrase like “blood libel” without being accused of being anti-Semitic, the censors on high are blotting out the words ‘Negro’ and the other which is now forbidden to say from Huckleberry Finn. We will soon have no history or cultural identity to speak of.
Good work, politically correct keepers of the flame.
I want to write an addendum to my last comment: the lyrics. They’re not “that’s his real hair”, it’s “that’s his only fare”, which in vernacular also means, “that is ALL that he does for a living.” Which adds more to the frustration of the working man tv repairman who has to bust tail for meager wages. Didja forget that, too?
And not once have I seen anyone step up in defense of the working class guy, saying this song makes them look stupid and ignorant. Double standard trumps again. :/
you tell that to the people who committed suicide> I reckon aids tooks the best gay people and were left with the trash
So you reckon the talented gay guy should apologise for being creative and accept being called a faggot cause to blue collar man has a chip on his shoulder?
“No . . . you are helping the next generation think that it is ok to call you names.
Paul . . . in what way does having people call you homophobic names, help you feel good about yourself?”
Did you read what I said?
I said I’m happy to refer to myself as a faggot. I didn’t say I like being called names. Most of the negative commenter’s on this thread have really missed my point.
@Graham: Did I say that?
People will still call you names even if you aren’t gay, black jewish etc.
It’s called ‘society’ – get used to it.
Seems to me there are at least two separate issues here. 1) What exactly is meant by the usage of the word “faggot” in the song, and how people react to that. 2) Whether it’s proper for a modern democratic government to use its power to censor expression and tell adults what they can say and sing, or what they can hear, read or see.
Regardless of what you think of question 1, I’m appalled that even a few readers on this thread apparently think the answer to question 2 is yes. As a USAian, I’m often envious of a lot of the ways in which Canada seems more advanced than us, socially and politically. This is not an example of that.
This song was inspired by an actual workman whom the songwriter met- whether his actual words were quoted verbatim or not is neither here or there. I thing songwriters should have some license to use terms like ‘faggot’ in context.
I am a huge fan of The Sopranos. The characters in that show often use homophobic, mysongenistic, and racist language. This shows them for the bigots that they are. I would not want shows with genuine artistic merit to be banned because of it- nor this particular song.
I’ve more of a problem with certain rap lyrics which are written from the perspective of the actual artist.
Does no-one read properly? You seem to be responding to something I didn’t say.
Sadly we’ve built a xenophobic conformist society that pigeonholes everyone that’s different with derogatory terms.
So trying to control the name-calling by accepting or “reclaiming” doesn’t really solve the problem. Nor does touchiness.
This song was written in the days when we had many songs written just to tell a story. The repairman was making a comment, and it took 30 years for anyone to notice the word ‘faggot’ and take offense.
Vitriol! Our society uses it as a condiment; we stir it into our tea. Peace out, folks.
It’s been said that total freedom of speech is also defined as anarchy, innit.
The song is about a conversation Knoppler heard in an electricals shop. it was one of the workers complaining that rock musicians have an easy life. it irked him as (like most bands) Dire Straits had worked hard, toured etc and done it the hard way. So he wrote the song from that man’s perspective; in character. the character is supposed to be an idiot. If a listener is so unsubtle and oversensitive not to understand that then that’s their problem. And yes, I’m 31 and I actually rather like Dire Straits! :)
Hmmm the day we start censoring songs for being offensive is the day we restrict artistic freedom and uphold the Ministry of Truth (Minitru) in true Orwellian style.
Surely that song must have been about John Travolta… I don;t know ant fags who own planes and are millionairs.