By now I’m sure you’ve all heard about the controversy regarding a decision by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council banning the playing of a certain version of the ’80s hit Money for Nothing by Dire Straits.
For those not familiar, a listener to a Newfoundland radio station too issue with the use of the word faggot, uttered thrice in the catchy ditty about a working stiff taking a swipe at such ’80s luminaries as Motley Crue.
So far, the controversy has attracted the scorn of people in the radio industry, free speech advocates, most intelligent people, and a heaping of gay Canadian celebrities. The defence offered by the head of the CBSC is laughable.
Most have pointed out three truths about the problem with the CBSC decision.
1. The complaint ignores the context of the lyrics, and their satirical bent, which are an attack on what was popular in the ’80s.
2. People are free to change the station if they’re offended by the content.
3. There are songs with far worse content than this relatively innocuous hit that seem to not concern anyone. But for those who are concerned, see number 2.
But the thing I find most striking about this is the fact that the CBSC even waded in at all. Or does in a lot of these cases.
Given the prevalence of satellite radio, where one can hear all sorts of uncensored music, as well as the volumes of content available on the Internet, it’s a wonder the CBSC would want to point out how irrelevant they even are.
Yes, I get that there’s a belief that if broadcasters are being given licence to transmit over the airwaves, then a set of standards needs to be enforced. But where is the line drawn. Well apparently the word fag is OK, but faggot is not. And what about bitch? As a fellow blogger, and Calgary radio employee pointed out, the song Smack My Bitch Up is playable, as are some very objectionable lyrics courtesy Nickelback.
But hey, maybe we’re so desensitized how objectionable Nickelback is that we’ve stopped caring.
As far as Dire Straits goes, why is it just the word, and not the context? Surely the people at the CBSC decision can grasp the notion of context.
Beyond that, if a radio station wants to play music that may or may not be objectionable, why do they not have the right? Why is it the right not to be offended so entrenched in Canadian society that we don’t want to let listeners, or readers, or viewers make judgment calls on their own.
And for those that suggest that we need to control what is on television or radio because of the accessibility of the media by people of all ages, may I remind you of the vast wealth of filth of all kinds on the Internet.
I’m not calling for a radio free-for-all. There should be standards. The paper whose site you’re readint tries to live up to certain standards. But do we really need a blanket ban on a song because one person in Newfoundland complained?