The Radio 1 listener: Alex Hood
A tradition warfare across the Pogues’ music Fairytale of New York seems like a brand new Christmas custom, like a Lindt chocolate Santa, however homophobic. On this 12 months’s iteration, Radio 1 has eliminated two offensive phrases from the recording it performs, however Radio 2 will proceed to play the unique; Radio 6 Music DJs can select between the recordings.
This perennial debate has develop into extra tiresome by the 12 months, however merely put: popularising slurs towards the LGBTQ+ neighborhood, significantly on a mainstream platform similar to a BBC radio station, is unacceptable. The music has not, and mustn’t, be outright banned, however we shouldn’t have to just accept slurs of any type – particularly on this occasion, when there’s a completely acceptable different lyric within the rerecorded model from 1992.
As a youngster, it’s extremely irritating to see that this initiative hasn’t been applied as a blanket rule throughout the entire BBC radio stations. I welcome Radio 1’s transfer to paved the way, and I perceive the necessity to make totally different selections based mostly on every station’s viewers expectations. However the BBC’s general resolution turns homophobia right into a generational problem. By selecting to proceed enjoying the uncensored model of the observe on Radio 2 and Radio 6 Music, Radio 1 listeners, who predominantly fall into the Gen Z bracket, are being left open to focused vitriol on-line, and being characterised as homogenous. We’re all forged as “snowflakes”, hypersensitive and childish, distracting from a debate must be about respecting these offended by the slurs, no matter age.
The BBC’s lack of rigour on this problem has turned those that are outraged by these derogatory phrases into the issue, casting them as censors who can’t deal with advanced artwork. I’d argue that it’s an mental and ethical failing to say songs ought to have a free move for homophobic slurs – you possibly can have advanced artwork with out them. Why do you so keenly wish to hear this phrase? Why are you so offended that you could’t sing it out loud? Why is that this so aggressively and deeply argued 12 months on 12 months?
I’m certain that different youthful listeners are conscious that the slurs on this music are archaic slang and a product of their time, however what these phrases are used for now – oppression – is the one factor that issues on this debate.
The Radio 2 listener: Patrick Strudwick
How inconsistent, it’s tempting to say, that “faggot” and “slut” could also be sung by the Pogues on Radio 2 however not on Radio 1. Effectively, can we first acknowledge an essential consistency within the BBC’s resolution right here? For as soon as, the main target isn’t just in regards to the homophobic epithet but additionally the misogynistic one; the one which swirls by means of our rape tradition and repeats so usually in pornography as to develop into white noise. “Slut” echoes spherical playgrounds at nearly the identical age – 12 months 8? Yr 7? – as little boys hear “faggot” as a prelude to a punch.
However hatred morphs as you age. Till about 30, as a distinctly in-your-face homosexual man, name-calling and violence had been fairly the factor for me: being chased, threatened, hospitalised. After 30? It’s not the apparent one-word insults you must be careful for, it’s the arguments devised by political and non secular leaders, impressed by the promise of cash and energy, and enunciated in such a method as to sound cheap and morally justified.
Social perspective surveys additionally reveal homophobia to be proportional to age: your grandad is more likely to suppose you’re a faggot than your classmate, he simply could not say it to your face. So if there’s one demographic that shouldn’t be listening to “faggot” and “slut”, it’s the Radio 2 viewers aged 40 and over, like me, who grew up at a time when a Radio 1 DJ refused to play Calm down by Frankie Goes to Hollywood as a result of a celebration of sodomy was an excessive amount of for his delicate heterosexuality.
The almost certainly alternative of station for households collectively (hopefully) this Christmas is Radio 2. Need to defend the younger? How about beginning within the kitchen as they collect to stuff the turkey, with a glass of mulled wine and the radio on. In case your grandad doesn’t say faggot, Kirsty MacColl will do it for him. Somebody on the desk will chortle. Nobody will say it’s ugly. House is the place the hatred that basically wounds is.
However I’m conflicted. The usage of “faggot” is arguably a query of intention – Todrick Corridor has a music known as Fag however he weaponises it proper again at you. In Fairytale of New York, that intention is abusive: the phrase is hurled as an insult. What complicates all the pieces, together with whether or not to bleep out phrases, is that the music is pure, rollocking artistry – simply as Michael Jackson’s music is, and funnily sufficient, baby abuse offends me much more than a phrase. I nonetheless take heed to Jackson. And I’d relatively folks hear nice music with offensive phrases in it – whether or not that’s hip-hop or folk-pop – than mediocre music that makes you’re feeling nothing. That’s not straightforward listening, it’s loss of life.
Simple pondering, in the meantime, would have it that the BBC’s transfer is censorship. It isn’t. It’s choice in accordance with viewers, no extra censorship than not listening to the phrase “fuck” earlier than the watershed. And if you happen to don’t realise these are ugly characters within the music, drunkenly preventing, and never folks worthy of emulation, then you’re as silly as somebody who thinks that loving the identical intercourse is fallacious or a girl’s sexuality is shameful. Idiocy and bigotry are a decent overlap. The humanities, in contrast, are the perfect of humanity.
There is just one reply to this battle, one that can by no means be achieved – however may start – with the deletion of a phrase. We have to change our world, one expression at a time, in order that nice music is rarely hate music.
A ultimate phrase on consistency. Should you hear a Conservative MP complaining in regards to the BBC’s deletion, please remind them of one other deletion made right this moment by a robust establishment: the Conservative authorities’s resolution to finish funding for anti-LGBT bullying initiatives in faculties. Pupils will nonetheless hear the phrase faggot this Christmas, however there can be nobody there to fix the injury.
That story was reported by the BBC’s LGBT correspondent. Not like the federal government, a minimum of the Beeb is attempting.
The 6 Music listener: Luke Turner
Whereas the argument over Fairytale of New York is just not a brand new one, this 12 months it has felt particularly fraught, like a foul dose of port’n’turkey flavoured acid reflux disorder at 4am on Boxing Day. I admit that, on a private degree, the up to date enthusiasm for deeming this or that music or artist #problematic and past redemption is exhausting and troubling. The perfect artwork challenges preconceptions, makes us really feel uncomfortable, forces us to confront the protection blanket of orthodox views. Does Fairytale of New York fall into that class?
Shane MacGowan’s clarification for the lyrics – that they’re the phrases of a personality and that “typically characters in songs and tales need to be evil or nasty so as to inform the story successfully” – is completely cheap. Throughout the pop spectrum from, say, the devilish characters Nick Cave created in Homicide Ballads to the horrific storytelling on Immortal Approach’s Dance With the Satan, offensive lyrics are key to the inventive means of writing a convincing, dramatic work. The identical applies to artwork, tv, literature. However is “faggot” actually including something to the music that Kirsty MacColl’s substitute “haggard” doesn’t serve? I don’t suppose so.
Past that, my problem with the lyrics of Fairytale is the Christmas context. It is a music suited to being bellowed out by completely hammered folks at their seasonal dos, a final collective singalong for the workplace occasion earlier than everybody disperses to be sick right into a McDonald’s bag on the commute residence. I’ve heard it occur, and as a bisexual man, a load of straight folks all of a sudden singing “low cost awful faggot” has made me really feel uncomfortable. It isn’t their phrase to sing. A load of white lads doing the gun fingers and rapping the N-word together with hip-hop has rightly been past the pale for years.
There may be, nonetheless, some extent past the offence attributable to MacGowan’s lyrics. Like John Lennon’s Think about with a Santa hat on, Fairytale of New York is insufferably sentimental and trite. As anybody who has been subjected to the repetitive sonic torture of working in retail at Christmas properly is aware of, the repertoire is just not precisely missing in festive songs that don’t characteristic homophobic slurs, so maybe as a substitute of Fairytale of New York without end ammunition for each side within the tedious stalemate of the tradition wars, it would simply be ignored. This fairytale ought to move, blissfully, into forgotten delusion.