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The annual homophobia debate over Fairytale of New York has already begun and we are so very, very tired

Patrick Kelleher December 2, 2019
Photo from Fairytale of New York music video, where the lyrics say "faggot"

Fairytale of New York (YouTube)

It’s that time of year again. Christmas trees are going up, lights are twinkling in homes across the nation, and the debate about a homophobic slur in ‘Fairytale of New York’ has started again.

The debate seems to take over much of the Christmas season each year, with people everywhere getting very upset over that line in the hit festive song.

In the song, recorded by The Pogues, Kirsty MacColl sings: “You scumbag you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, happy Christmas your arse I pray God it’s our last.”

Every year, the debate begins – seemingly earlier each festive season – about whether the line is acceptable. Some believe it should be censored when it’s played on the radio or in public; some believe it shouldn’t be played at all due to its use of a hurtful homophobic slur. But some also believe the controversy is manufactured and don’t have an issue with the use of the word.

‘Fairytale of New York’ debate took on a life of its own last year.

And then we have reams and reams of straight people who get personally offended every December when gay people get uncomfortable with them singing “faggot” while singing along to the song.

The debate boiled over spectacularly last year after a student wrote an article for The Tab asking people to stop singing the line and said it was as bad as the “N word”. Shane McGowan of The Pogues, who co-wrote the song, later released a statement in which he said the lyrics are “not intended to offend”. He also said he was fine with radio stations choosing to censor the word.

Ah December, when a gay person even thinks about not liking the word “faggot” in ‘Fairytale of New York’ and flocks of heteros swoop down saying that it’s only harmless.

Unsurprisingly, the debate is already kicking off again on Twitter, where countless people have made their views known.

The whole thing is a bit of a minefield.

Meanwhile, some people are very upset at even the prospect of the song being censored.

Others were quick to suggest alternative lyrics.

Brace yourselves – there are still three weeks until Christmas, with plenty of opportunities to publicly debate the use of homophobic slurs in popular songs before then.

More: Christmas, faggot, Fairytale of New York, Homophobia, kirsty maccoll, the pogues

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