If it seems that Christmas music has started up earlier than usual this year, it’s not your imagination. And the debate over the lyrics in the Pogues’ “A Fairytale of New York” has begun sooner than in past years.
The beloved Christmas season song, which is routinely voted as the best Xmas song of all time, is again in the news for its inclusion of a homophobic word in the lyrics.
In case you’ve been living underground since 1987, the song features a dysfunctional fictional couple (played by Shane McGowan and Kirsty MacColl) scrapping it out, throwing epithets and insults at each other. At one point, the female character calls her man “a cheap lousy faggot.” And therein lies the issue.
This dodgy bit of lyric-writing attracted few comments in the early years, but as society has become more woke, we’ve seen an annual debate over censorship. There’s no doubt that the word is offensive. However, people like to point out that this line is part of a line spoken by characters in a song so that we may better understand what kind of offensive people they are.
This has led to an annual debate over whether the song should be censored, something that Shane McGowan has been called upon to defend again and again.
This year, BBC Radio 1 will play just the censored version. BBC Radio 2, however, will play the uncensored version. Strange, that.
Quick poll: Censor “Fairytale of New York” or not?
It’s become an annual debate. Should the homophobic slur be censored out of the Pogues “A Fairytale of New York?” BBC Radio 1 is doing it this year.— Alan Cross (@alancross) November 19, 2020