Monday, June 06, 2005

bleep that mumble

This is my first post, so it should be something weighty, right? A post about a topical political issue like the assassination (oops, I mean reform) of Social Security, or a scandal like Tom DeLay's entire political life, or maybe profound thoughts about former FBI agent Mark Felt being Woodward's Deep Throat.

Too obvious, sorry. Instead, let's talk music ... and censorship. Over the past couple of days I've spent a couple of hours listening to the local classic rock station and in that span heard three censored songs.

One was "Jet Airliner" by the Steve Miller Band -- you know the line, about "funky shit going down in the city"? I've heard it censored before (usually on AM radio), either as "funky kicks" or in this case, "funky (inaudible)". That didn't surprise me too much.

Another was Pink Floyd's "Money" -- "don't give me that do goody-good bullshit" was rendered "goody-good bull (silence)". I don't remember hearing that song censored before, but I could be wrong.

The first one I heard was Dire Strait's "Money for Nothing" -- you know, the one with the microwave delivery guys griping about how they have to work hard while rock stars get money for nothing, and chicks for free, while Sting croons "I want my MTV" at the song's end.

The lyrics in question: "the little faggot with an earring and a mink coat. Yeah buddy, that's his own hair. The little faggot's got his own jet airplane, the little faggot, he's a millionaire."

Yesterday when I heard the song, at each spot where Mark Knopfler sings the word "faggot", there was just a sort of musical mumble -- you could tell there was a word there but you couldn't make it out.

This bit of editing surprised me a bit, because I have never heard a radio station bleep that bit before. Don't get me wrong -- "faggot" is an ugly word, I don't use it, and I find it offensive. But in Knopfler's lyrics, it works: this is just how the song's working class stiffs would gripe about Prince, who I've always assumed was the guy in question.

I dunno why the classic rock station did that. I could call and check I guess but I'm not a journalist (oops, the first clue to who I am, or at least who I am not). But I find myself wondering if the FCC's recent rampage against obscenity is responsible. This radio station's demographic ranges well over 18, we've all heard these three songs before with the original salty language, and anybody who would be badly offended by shit, bullshit, and faggot (in these contexts) would probably be listening to classical music or Jesus radio anyway.

Maybe the station manager is a prude. But maybe he/she is just afraid of being fined by the FCC if some fan of James Dobson or some other blue-nosed, holier than thou, interfering fundamentalist type happened to hear the offending words and decided to complain to the FCC.

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