Should the song 'Fairytale of New York' be censored?

Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues’ lead singer Shane MacGowan in 1987. [Photo: Getty]
Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues’ lead singer Shane MacGowan in 1987. [Photo: Getty]

“Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl is the most played Christmas song of the 21st century – but people are calling for its most famous line to be censored.

As part of the anti-romantic Christmas duet, MacColl sings: “You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot.”

Critics are taking issue with the song’s use of the word “faggot”.

Irish DJ Eoghan McDermott kicked off the debate with a tweet last Tuesday, in which he said “faggot” was as offensive towards the gay community, based on accounts from two gay members of his team.

He concluded that, at very least, the word “faggot” should be censored.

The debate was picked up in an article by Tom Haynes, assistant editor at student newspaper The Tab, entitled: “Dear straight people, stop singing the word ‘faggot’ in Fairytale of New York.”

In the article, he comes to the same conclusion as McDermott: “When Fairytale of New York plays on your next night out, just don’t sing one word of it. That’s all – one word, two syllables. Not too much of a stretch, right?”

However, not everyone on the internet agrees, with some suggesting its critics were “too easily offended” and “snowflakes” – the latter being a term for someone who gets offended easily.

As another Twitter user pointed out, the word “faggot” is meant in a different context to a homophobic slur.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was originally a pejorative term used to refer to a lazy person.

Shane McGowan, lead singer of The Pogues, has since issued a statement on the controversy.

Speaking to Virgin Media Television’s “The Tonight Show”, he said he would be happy to have it censored.

Shane said: “The word was used by the character because it fitted with the way she would speak and with her character.”

He concluded: “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.”

This isn’t the only Christmas song to fall under controversy this year.

Last week, it was revealed a US radio station removed “Baby It’s Cold Outside” from its Christmas playlist.

The move came amid concerns the “manipulative” song lyrics were at odds with the #MeToo movement.

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