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Canada’s Gay/Lesbian radio listeners debate Dire Straits ‘Money for Nothing’ ban

Xtra, Canada’s Gay/Lesbian news service, has strongly questioned the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council’s decision to declare Dire Straits‘ song ‘Money for Nothing’ “unacceptable for broadcast” over the airwaves. But judging from the reader comments, Gay and Lesbian Canadians are divided on the matter.

The song itself is about a crabby home appliance installation guy bitter about the supposedly cushy lives of famous pop singers, and includes the following stanza:

The little faggot with the earring and the make-up

Yeah, buddy, that’s his own hair

That little faggot’s got his own jet airplane

That little faggot, he’s a millionaire

To which the CBSC declared on Wednesday: “[L]ike other racially driven words in the English language, ‘faggot’ is one that, even if entirely or marginally acceptable in earlier days, is no longer so.  The Panel finds that it has fallen into the category of unacceptable designations on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.”

Xtra’s Friday response begs to differ. “Let’s just get this out of the way immediately: the use of the word ‘faggot’ in ‘Money for Nothing’ isn’t offensive,” the magazine insists. “The song is written from the point of view of a working person complaining about the easy life of rock stars.”

Xtra concedes that ‘Money for Nothing’ is offered from “the perspective of a homophobic dick,” but argues that it “certainly doesn’t glorify him or his detestable opinions. Rather, it ridicules his viewpoint.”

The post suggests that the station sanctioned for broadcasting the song could have done a much better job of explaining the tune’s context. But many readers see the context differently:

“I’m sorry but I think Xtra is totally out of touch with the sentiment within our community,” one writes. “The ‘f’ word is vulgar and associated with violence against us. It is often the last word we hear before we get bashed in the face by some thug with hatred in his eyes. Would the person who wrote this article be OK with the use of the ‘c’ word to describe a woman in a lyric of a song?”


“The author is full of it. Nobody teenage boy sang ( then or now) along to this song thinking, ‘oh the lyrics are written from the point of view of a disgruntled working class guy who directs his angst again artist in general- musicians particular.’

They heard faggot. Faggot was legitimized as a useful derogatory term against gays. Homophobia was sanctioned- through pop music.”

On the other hand,

“There are, apparently, still a few Canadians who think that the censorship of derogatory words can produce a more tolerant and respectful society,” the last commenter so far says. “I think the notion is misguided, however, because I can’t think of an example in history when censorship ever produced that result.”

Whole Xtra post here.

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3 Responses to Canada’s Gay/Lesbian radio listeners debate Dire Straits ‘Money for Nothing’ ban

  1. Paul Riismandel January 17, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    I’m glad to see the CSBC staying on top of the cutting edge in pop culture. I’m afraid to see what happens when they hear “I want your sex.”

  2. s.b January 17, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    Xtra’s interpretation of the song is one of many possible. I think that the argument that the song was written from the point of view of a character is completely irrelevant in this discussion. Radio stations can’t be responsible for the interpretation of lyrics; they have to look at what’s actually being said and they are reponsible for broadcasting that.

    The ban may be challenged on the ground that it seems a political decision however, because the complaint was on behalf of an organization (LBGT), rather than of an individual. Radio stations should not take political sides like that.

  3. Manuel Ortiz January 19, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    The Canadian broadcasters Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code requires them to ensure that their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material or comment which is based on matters of sexual orientation among other things. Well heres the hateful guitar riff thats too rockin for you Canadian wussies to handle Somebody call Mark Potok at the SPLC.

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