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Saturday 21 September 2019

Gay slur in 'Fairytale' was to make character authentic - MacGowan

Controversy: The Pogues singer Shane MacGowan with Kirsty MacColl back in 1987. Photo: Tim Roney/Getty Images
Controversy: The Pogues singer Shane MacGowan with Kirsty MacColl back in 1987. Photo: Tim Roney/Getty Images
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Singer Shane MacGowan has responded to recent criticism of the use of a word which is offensive to the gay community in his classic Christmas song 'Fairytale of New York'.

A debate about the use of the word 'faggot' emerged after a student newspaper editor in London called for it to be bleeped out.

There were also calls from two 2fm DJs to have the lyrics censored. Presenter Eoghan McDermott took to Twitter this week to object to the word which he condemned as a "slur" and "insult", while presenter Stephen Byrne revealed how he felt when he heard it played in a club.

"I stood in a room as over 200 people screamed a word that's been used to make me feel like an outsider, with such joy and cheer," he said.

RTÉ later confirmed it would not censor The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl's festive hit.

The Pogues frontman issued a statement to Virgin Media Television's 'The Tonight Show' in response to calls from the DJs to have the word censored.

MacGowan, who wrote the song in 1987, explained why he included the word.

"The word was used by the character because it fitted with the way she would speak and with her character," he wrote.

"She is not supposed to be a nice person, or even a wholesome person. She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history and she is down on her luck and desperate."

He continued: "Her dialogue is as accurate as I could make it but she is not intended to offend!

"She is just supposed to be an authentic character and not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable.

"Sometimes characters in songs and stories have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively."

MacGowan went on to say that he does not want to get into an argument about the song and has no problem with it being censored during radio airplay.

"If people don't understand that I was trying to accurately portray the character as authentically as possible then I am absolutely fine with them bleeping the word, but I don't want to get into an argument," he concluded.

'Mrs Brown's Boys' star Rory Cowan said the song did not need to be censored.

"Nonsense issues distract from real ones," he said.

The debate comes days after a US radio station revealed that it had dropped 'Baby It's Cold Outside' due to a lyric which it perceives as out of step with the #MeToo movement.

Irish Independent

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