Is Dire Straits ‘Money For Nothing’ Gonna Make a Grand Return To Canadian Radio?

Might Canadian radio stations be able to play the uncensored, “little faggot” version of Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” sometime soon? While the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council this month banned the nation’s terrestrial radio stations from playing an unedited version of the song (handily ignored by some), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission asked the Council to revisit its decision and consider “the age and origin of the song and the date of its performance,” “the prominence of the contested word in the song and the use of that word over time,” and “the length of time and frequency that it has been playing on the airwaves.” The CBSC agreed. Why is the CRTC so concerned about radio stations skipping over a few harsh lyrics? Because its reputation is on the line. Some Canadians thought CRTC, and not CBSC, was responsible for the censorship; it received some 250 letters campaigning against the ban.

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  • sfsilver

    Is have mixed feelings about this. I understand why we would obviously object to the use of “faggot” in the ding, but I don’t support censoring the song. Let the ugliness of it stand for itself. I was struck by how stupid I have found the censorship of Mark Twain’s novels is lately. Perhaps there really is a point to letting the hateful and bigoted relics of our culture stand as examples of their times. Are we really concerned that anyone is looking to 80s pop for the formation of their cultural and politic al philosophies anyway?

  • Justin Stayshyn

    And understanding what distinguishes them is key to understanding this issue. The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (the group that banned Money For Nothing) is run by the broadcasters themselves. It’s a self-regulating watchdog.
    The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is a government body.
    The CBSC was created to AVOID government interference, which is what is happening now.
    So any conservatives applauding this move are really asking for greater government interference.

  • Kev C

    When was the last time Huckleberry Finn was played on the public airwaves?

  • Josh

    Oh, come on now. The song was released in 1985, a time when MTV was just getting huge and a lot of musicians were wondering about the effect of commercialism and mass marketing on popular music. The narrator of “Money for Nothing” insults blacks, women, and yes, gays in his song; he’s supposed to be a bitter, rather repugnant individual who regrets not pursuing a fame he sees as ridiculously easy to achieve.

    I can see why a radio station that censors other curse words might want to censor “faggot” used in this instance; that said, I’m certain that the members of Dire Straits are not hateful bigots.

  • EdWoody

    An older guy came into my store the other day, complaining because he’d bought a Dire Straits best of that included a censored version of this song. He wanted the original, uncensored version. I had to special-order him a copy of the “Brothers in Arms” album to get hold of it. Even though neither of us said the word, I knew perfectly well that he wanted the “faggot” version. Customer Service rules prevented me from making an issue of it, and of course he’s probably just an old fart who wants what he grew up with and doesn’t see what the issue is. Still, it made me rather uncomfortable.

  • jason

    Music can be played repeatedly and consistently. Besides, the word “faggot” is a slur. So is “nigger” and “cunt”. One might use such a slur in criticism but to have it in song – which basically celebrates it and insulates it from criticism – is quite disgusting.

    I think Canada’s gay community needs to stand up and be counted on this. Don’t let the bigot rockers get away with their anti-gay slurs.

  • Mad Hominem

    Wasn’t the song written from the POV of a real-life ignorant appliance guy? I’m gonna quote Wikipedia quoting a Mark Knopfler interview from 1985, when the single came out.

    “The lead character in “Money for Nothing” is a guy who works in the hardware department in a television/custom kitchen/refrigerator/microwave appliance store. He’s singing the song. I wrote the song when I was actually in the store. I borrowed a bit of paper and started to write the song down in the store. I wanted to use a lot of the language that the real guy actually used when I heard him, because it was more real….”

    I’d like Knopfler to actually weigh in on this. Step back and look and the song reads a lot more like a satire than an endorsement of redneck sensibilities.

  • MikeE

    @Mad Hominem: Really? That’s fascinating. I didn’t know that. /sarcasm off And the funny thing is NO ONE knows that if they haven’t read an interview with the songwriter, because NONE of that is in the song.

    Knopfler can say whatever the hell he likes, the song is still offensive. Anyone homophobe, upon hearing this song, will feel vindicated in their homophobia. There is absolutely nothing in the lyrics that “contextualize” them as satire. If you READ the entire lyrics, there is NO justification for the use of the F-word other than to be offensive.

    Notice which verse was cut when Dire Straits had to themselves create a “shorter” version of the song? Yup, the offensive verse. Which means they KNEW they were doing something wrong when they wrote it.

  • MikeE

    And to anyone who is asking “why did it take 25 years for someone to complain”, “it’s just proof that no one was offended by the song until now”:

    I can assure you that I, for one, found this song HEAVILY offensive from the first time I heard it. I just did not know there WAS a way to complain about it, which is probably what most people who hated the song thought as well.

    You have to jump through hoops to get the complaint to the CBSC, with exact air-times, copies letters as of proof that you’ve already complained to the radio station in question, etc…

    And the SONG is not banned from the airwaves. The LONG version, which includes the offensive lyrics, is.

  • just sayin

    I loved the song when it first came out, still do. When that riff ends: that little “faggot’, he’s a millionaire – it always felt like a big ‘fuck you’ to the rednecks. Still does.

  • GeriHew

    You know probably every member of Dire Straits has experienced being called a “queer”, “poof”, “pansy” etc. in his time and probably “gay” and “fag” too. They all had long hair when they were young and that was a time when guys with long hair often got called those things in the UK.

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