Thursday, December 20, 2007

If I Should Fall From Grace With BBC Radio

As you well know, we are big fans of "The Fairytale of New York," a.k.a. "The National Anthem of Christmas," no matter if its rendered by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, Stars, or the Georgie Washington Social Exit Loup. So it was dispiriting to hear that BBC Radio decided to edit the song because of these lyrics:

SHE: You're a bum, you're a punk
HE: You're an old slut on junk. Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
SHE: You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, happy christmas your arse. I pray God its our last.
I imagine you can guess what part of that passage inspired the BBC to make this decision. They later reversed themselves after an intense public outcry. And I think that is for the best. Still, it's worth a thought: could it not be said that part of the song's appeal is the dizzy frisson of being "allowed" the pleasure of that taboo slur? To hear it, to sing it aloud? I suspect that for not a few fans of the song, it plays a small part.

But let's put this in perspective. Consider these lyrics, from Jurassic 5's "The Game":

Get it out of here, attack from the rear
Ya'll niggas aint nothin but some bitch ass queers
I'll be in your ear, increase the fear
Rippin with the shears as the crowd just cheers
I have to say, the J5, on this track, have always filled me with more unease than The Pogues ever did with "Fairytale," and the reason is context. In the case of the Pogues, the lyrics are a conversation between a drunk and a slattern, and as Matt wrote earlier today, "The word clearly appears in the text because the character who says it is trying to direct an offensive insult at the other character." Whereas, in the case of "The Game," Jurassic 5 are speaking as and for themselves. Ironically, J5 liked to think of themselves as "socially conscious" rappers in the vein of Black Star and the Native Tongues posse. Doubly ironic: "The Game" is basically one long brag about how verbally dextrous they are. Ran out of rhymes for "rear," though?

1 comment:

Sukaluski said...

I can has Pogues tickets?