By Dave Brindle
We want our/We want our/We want our faggot in the lyrics.
Is it censorship or sensitive to our times that the old biddies on the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council have designated the Dire Straits ’80s classic “Money for Nothing” unacceptable for play on Canadian radio because of its use of the word “faggot?”
It would be interesting to learn the age of the “listener to radio station CHOZ-FM in St. John’s, N.L., [who] complained last year that the song includes the word ‘faggot’ in its lyrics and is discriminatory to gays.” Not only would I like to the know the individual’s age, but their sexuality, too, because his or her complaint has obscured the meaning of this ’80s gay liberation anthem just a surely as the editing of the n-word from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn has diminished the power of his American classic. (If the complainant is a little faggot, he should know his history better.)
Not only is it censorship, the decision ignores the sensitivity of the time when, rather than being discriminatory, the lyric, in context, was empowering to us young, in-your-face faggots of the ’80s.
This was our time. We had healed from the assassination of human rights champion Harvey Milk two years earlier. We did not retreat. We were on the streets. Our packed clubs played the beats. We danced to this song.
“Money for Nothing” (the “Queenie” version)
The complaint and the Council’s decision not only ignore the word in the context of the song, but the song in the context of gay history. I would venture to say with confidence that the overwhelming majority of us “old faggots” who were there and were fighting for our rights and freedoms are pissed off that they’re messing with our song. Faggots don’t like censorship.
“Money for Nothing” was the first hit song and hit video that said our name – it was what we called ourselves then and do to this day. It recognized us as a reckoning force of social change and anticipated our future economic power. The faggots were taking over the music industry. MTV was ours. The song satirically mocked the new MTV generation as lazy, looking for the easy way, couch-potatoes who jeered many of the new, emerging video stars as faggots.
See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup
Yeah buddy that’s his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot he’s a millionaire
What’s discriminatory about that? If I had my own jet airplane and if I had been a millionaire back in the ’80s – and more and more of us faggots had planes and were becoming millionaires then – you could call me anything you want. We were having too much fun to care.
One of my first acts when I return to the airwaves with a new radio broadcast will be to play “Money for Nothing,” not as the Council deems suitably edited, but unedited and in-your-face.
Dave Brindle is a new media broadcaster, writer, and journalist living in Lund, B.C.