The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council yesterday banned the Dire Strait’s song Money for Nothing as being unfit for play on Canadian radio. The ban was prompted by a complaint from a listener of CMOZ-FM in Newfoundland. The listener complained about the use of the word “faggot” in the lyrics as being homophobic.
The controversy over “Money for Nothing” actually isn’t new.
The song was a massive hit upon its release in ’85. It won a Grammy, reached No. 1 on the charts in Canada and the U.S. and spawned a famous music video that featured crude computer animation and became interwoven with the popularity of the then-fledgling music network MTV.
Yet Cross (Alan Cross is a Canadian radio veteran) points out that sanitized versions of the song have always existed — even its original seven-inch pressing, he said, arrived without the verse in question.
At the time, there was debate over whether the song was homophobic. But songwriter Mark Knopfler responded by pointing out that the lyric was meant with some irony. He has said he actually wrote the song in a hardware store, after he heard an employee watching MTV and complaining about what he saw.
I guess this would be the Canadian equivalent of either banning or sanitizing Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn due to language that is deemed to be socially unacceptable now but not when it was written.