“IT was Christmas Eve babe, in the drunk tank.” The drunk tank this year is a nice place though. There’s no swearing, violence or name-calling because the powers-that-be have told us that doesn’t happen. Can’t happen.
It takes more than 33 years for something to become tradition, but The Pogues’ song A Fairytale of New York is pretty much a Christmas staple.
Eschewing the usual cliché-ridden festive subject matter, it focuses on a couple whose December 25 will not be spent around a tree, opening presents in front of a roaring fire, glass of mulled wine in hand.
The song has, of course, become the latest victim of the censor spurred on by fake public outrage, social media and fear of offending the delicate ears of listeners. Put your bet on: snowflakes will definitely be in evidence this Christmas Day.
Yes, it uses the derogatory word “faggot”, just as other songs use “nigger”, “ho” and other unacceptable terms.
It’s not the word that should matter though, but the way in which it is used and why.
It is not slurred by the songwriter as his insult, but is shouted by a character in the middle of a row with another drunk struggling with life.
If you apply the rule of removing a word from every form of art without contextualising it there will be no art.
Remove the racist or homophobe from a film, gritty TV drama or musical and you take away the story and the lesson that may be learned from it. In fact, the whole point. You may as well never play the song, watch the film or read the book.
In a way the banning of lyrics tackling issues fits in with a modern life that is all about being safe, unchallenged and cosseted, staying in on a Saturday watching Strictly or the endless round of quizzes and reality programmes populated by minor celebrities.
Personally, I would rather see these banned and people forced to educate themselves, but I suspect that would prove an unpopular move.
If we are going to continue along the road of banning this, that and the other, why not take a look at some of the people behind the innocuous songs, TV programmes and theatre that dominates our lives?
Let’s ban everything by Gary Barlow and Take That for attempting to rip the nation off by concealing millions in tax, Jimmy Carr for the same, Michael McIntyre for being the world’s most irritating man, the playing of Michael Jackson songs for, well, you know...
We won’t do that though, because they stand as the smug, smiling, friendly faces of popular entertainment, the sort that will be dominating your TV screens and music choices as you enjoy your sixth mince pie on Christmas Day.
Talent show winners are queuing up to document that sort of family activity in a song.
Meanwhile, out on the streets there’s the other side of Christmas: two homeless drunks rowing, calling each other names, offending passers-by who will walk on, the spirit of the season unrecognised or ignored.
Their Christmases won’t ever be sung about again.