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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex in Media: Books, Magazines, Films, TV & More » Censoring "Fairytale of New York".

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Author Topic: Censoring "Fairytale of New York".
mizchastain
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Well, it's the Christmas season, and so I recalled this. A year or two or three ago, I don't remember the exact date, there was a kerfuffle over the lyrics of the Pogues' song "Fairytale of New York". This is one of the most popular Christmas songs in the UK, but in the final verse the female character addresses the male character as "you cheap lousy faggot". There was quite an argument over whether this line should be censored or the lyrics changed (they were going to change it to "you're mean and you're haggard", which doesn't rhyme as well, but then it's quite hard to find something that rhymes with that). I think they eventually left it in.

What's getting to me is that earlier in the verse the male character calls the female one an "old slut on junk". Correct me if I'm wrong, but plenty of people here and elsewhere have given me the impression that they find "slut" just as offensive, if not more so. (I've seen one or two people call themselves "fag" or similar when they know they're among people who won't be offended, but I have yet to see a woman call herself a "slut" in casual conversation.) However, there seemed to be no concern about censoring or changing that line. Was there a fuss about that and I just missed it?

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Heather
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Oh, I love that song. I heart the Pogues.

You know, I missed this whole flap. I'm often seriously unplugged from a lot of things that go on outside the work I do and larger politics, and clearly this is no exception.

I wouldn't be surprised, though, if there were complaints about the former lyric piece but not the other you brought up. Around the world, women are pretty much overwhelmingly the most oppressed group of people that there is (and obviously, some women are members of more than one oppressed group). What that often results in is offense being taken on every other group's behalf first, and women last, if at all.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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mizchastain
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I think it was a UK thing, which might be why it was missed across the pond.

Personally, I'd never direct either of those words or any similarly offensive terms at a real person (unless they'd actually told me it was okay and we were around people who knew they didn't mind and wouldn't be upset), but neither bothers me in the context of the song. I recognise that other people could be bothered, though, so I understand why they tried to change it. Just struck me as inconsistent to change one part and not the other.

I like the Pogues too [Smile]

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Heather
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It certainly sounds inconsistent. I'm with you: I've never been bothered by either lyric in context.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Pumpkin_Pie
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I think that you have to look not just at the words used but how they're used and the message they're portraying...and I'm not sure we're supposed to think either of the two protagonists in Fairytale of New York are people to admire or aspire to.

The word "faggot" makes me cringe but it's ultimately true to the song in a lot of ways.

And if you are to censor it then yes, slut is a horrendous word also.

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