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Green Room - Week 5 - Weekend Edition

I heard "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits (regarded by many as an 80s classic) on the radio a week or so ago, and noticed that there seemed to be an entire verse missing from the song. Granted, I hadn't heard it in awhile and I don't tend to listen to a lot of commercial radio so perhaps I missed something.

A couple days later, I happened to have on the same station and (of course, because that's what commercial radio does) the song came on again and sure enough, there was an entire verse missing.

So I did a bit of research (note: very little) and saw that Canadian radio had actually banned an uncut version from their radio (or tried to, and now they seem to have some sort of compromise about it.

It's funny because I'm talking about it, but I don't want to actually repost what they cut. Maybe that says more about me than it does about the song though, because there was controversy when it came out (for the same reasons) but everyone, even the critics, understood that it was in the context of a character. The character was saying those words.

Which made me think of those who want to either remove certain "classic novels" from the shelves of libraries due to the words in them. Or put out versions with those offensive words removed.

Is it OK for a period piece - or a piece coming out *during* that period, being that it is speech "of the time" - to have language that would be deemed "not suitable" now?

With songs/books - is it better to remove something entirely than for someone else to come in and change or remove certain words?

With "radio friendly" versions of songs these days the artist is involved with it. Whereas when the push in the 80s (and indeed from what I read from what happened a few years ago with this particular song in Canada) the call was for the government to step in and regulate that sort of thing.

Is there a difference (to you)?

It's interesting for me to see what the next generation of writers will be thinking of as "how things are done" and seeing how those things are developing.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 17th, 2016 07:44 pm (UTC)
I was a little kid when that song came out, totally missed the fact that there was a controversy -- and yet still knew at the time that it was in the context of a character. And I don't know where to draw the line. Like, cartoons I saw when I was a kid? Totally racist. What about the "Indians" in the Peter Pan ride at Disney? Or half the stuff at Disney that's based on classic movies? Where do we stop?

And yet, I don't want to be disrespectful to anyone certain terms or caricatures offend, because times have changed and what we might have found acceptable then isn't now. It's a difficult line to tread, imo.
Jan. 17th, 2016 08:17 pm (UTC)
In my mind (note: does not apply to anyone else's mind) the Peter Pan stuff is a child's idea of "Indians" that exist entirely in "Neverland". Not actual Native Americans in the same way that the "Pirates" are these fantasy versions of pirates and not actual ones.

The same with "Small World" where everyone is an exaggerated doll.

I'm sure other people have other interpretations of that though.

Jan. 17th, 2016 08:19 pm (UTC)
If people are too stupid to evaluate words based on context, then they deserve to be offended.

That 80s classic song was based on an actual conversation the song writer overheard, and just like with *any* story - the language used by a character is a huge part of establishing characterization! The words, the speech patterns - this is what brings a character to life and makes them believable. Some redneck Bubba type mockingly grumbling about a rockstar with facial piercings and a feminine seeming appearance isn't going to say "By George! It is my scholarly opinion that this person may perhaps be a non-gender-conforming individual and may also not be entirely heterosexual!" He's gonna use a rather unkind word for all of the above, and in this context, the use of that word is about the *character's* opinions and personality. And *duh*, an ignorant, bigoted character is going to say ignorant, bigoted things. And if you take the time to listen to the lyrics in context, the clear winner in the story is the millionaire rockstar with his own private jet, not the redneck Bubba dude installing refrigerators and being a jealous hater.

It's easy to have knee-jerk reactions to shit and be all like OMG BAN BAN BAN MY DELICATE FEELINGS HAVE BEEN WOEFULLY ASSAULTED...but this sort of crap leads nowhere good - just straight to further ignorance. Shit like Huck Finn was satirizing the hell out of racist society, but there are people who just wanna be like "oops, there's an N-bomb, better ban it." To Kill a Mockingbird was a severe indictment of the racism that ran rampant in the south, but oops, there's an N-bomb, better ban that too. The recent YA novel Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian has been banned from schools left, right, and center because OMG IT HAS THE FUCK WORD IN IT or O NOEZ A TEENAGER MAKES A JOKE ABOUT WANKING OFF and it's just like - well no shit, Sherlock. It's a book about teenagers being teenagers. But sure, let's ban it for saying fuck and making a joke about a boner and completely ignore the giant list of very real, very relevant issues it addresses like cultural identity, familial abuse, and coping with alcoholism, just to name a few. Catering to this sort of garbage dumbs us down as a society, and there's no excuse for it at all.

Context matters. Characterization matters. Just because a word is being used does not mean the word is being glorified or endorsed, or that a word being used in one context is promoting its use in a different one, or that a "shocking" word is necessarily bad at all. Teenagers are going to say boner and fuck. Villains and distasteful characters are going to do and say distasteful things. And sometimes a word is being used in a completely neutral context and someone's own personal issues cause them to apply their own personal context and then get all bent out of shape over the word itself. I recently stumbled into some clusterfuck on FB where some Special Snowflake was getting all cheesed off over someone using "hey guys!" as a gender neutral way to address a large group. Stuff like that is just like - OKAY. Please take a moment, switch your brain to the ON position, and evaluate whether you truly believe this person was questioning people's gender identities and excluding women, or just using a colloquial second person plural as a generic greeting.

The same holds true for all this crap. Switch your brain to the ON position, look at what is (or isn't!) actually being said, think about whose issue that truly is, and proceed from there.

Jan. 17th, 2016 08:36 pm (UTC)
I love you when you're righteous.
Jan. 18th, 2016 05:30 pm (UTC)
Righteo...ohhh, I get it. You misspelled "hung over and cranky." :p
Jan. 18th, 2016 09:24 pm (UTC)
Righteo...ohhh, I get it. You misspelled "hung over and cranky." :p
Jan. 17th, 2016 08:32 pm (UTC)
Radio friendly versions of songs have been around since I was a kid. (and I'm old, so...) If they have offensive language, I think it's best for broadcast not to offend people, but if people want to be able to buy the original version, they should be able to.

I remember working at my campus radio station, and the manager had taken a nail to certain songs on certain albums so no one could play them "accidentally."

If you go back and try to sanitize everything, you lose your history. And you put all the art in the hands of the kind of people who feel the need to police art.

Plus, who decides what to change? I had a choir director once who wanted to change The Prayer of St Francis from, "Oh, Divine Master, grant that I may not..." to "Oh, Divine Maker, grant..." I lost it all over the sanctuary. I mean, first, it's the freaking prayer of St Francis. Hands the fuck off of it. Second, it's not master as in master and slave, it's as in master and student. And if it's gender you're worried about, maybe you should pick another freaking song (good luck with that in the historical church music department). Because, as I go back to my original point, it's The freaking Prayer of St Francis.

Geez, I can still get riled about it and it's probably
been thirty years. The irony is, you have to consider that was the height of my rabid lesbian feminist days, and yet, I repeat, if you're not actually St Francis, back the fuck off (sing your own prayer if you're that worried about it).

I remember during that rant making a point about the Hallelujah Chorus, suggesting if she wanted to change that from "He shall reign" maybe she could have everyone sing "It shall reign" and give everyone umbrellas. "...forever and ever..."
Jan. 17th, 2016 10:31 pm (UTC)
if the artist is involved with releasing a "cleaner" version of their own work, it's not as annoying to me.
I don't really think governments should ever be involved in such an endeavor.
Jan. 17th, 2016 10:41 pm (UTC)

Steelers are leading 10-6 as I'm writing thjs.  If they win...Hehhehheh 😈

Jan. 18th, 2016 01:17 am (UTC)
They did not.

Jan. 17th, 2016 11:25 pm (UTC)
The gov't needs to focus on bigger ways to take care of people. Being like your parents and saying what you, esp adults, are/ are not allowed to see and hear is ridiculous. If you don't like something you hear, we should use good sense and switch stations, scroll past or put the reading material down and find something else.

Was the specific verse the one about the little " politically incorrect gay-guy" word?

The artists and the public should work these issues out. Not the government.

Jan. 18th, 2016 02:07 am (UTC)
Yep, that was the verse.

A whole new generation will never know that the guy on the screen is a millionaire... actually, they will never know that there is a guy on the screen at all!
Jan. 18th, 2016 01:34 am (UTC)
It always amuses me when they mute out foul language in the radio (like the 'f' in You Oughta Know), because... well, we don't speak English here. O_o

In general, I don't like to run into foul language, which I've pointed out at the office and my coworkers will either keep to a G-rated vocabulary when I'm within hearing or apologize when they slip. Works for us.

But in literature and art... fictional characters get a free pass. They aren't talking to *me*, after all. I either like the book/song, or I don't, and it's rare that I dislike a character's vocabulary so much that I must quit reading.

As for non-PC vocabulary... *eyeroll* There is something we say right now that, in fifty years, will have teenagers giggling and adults cringing. It happens. Language evolves. Society changes. Words that our grandparents or older uncles thought nothing of saying are now grave insults. Okay. Fine. Don't use those words. But for Christ's sake, leave the books alone.
Jan. 18th, 2016 03:13 am (UTC)
I think that when it comes to "problematic" media, one of the biggest problems is sometimes fans of it want to defend it like it's not problematic. They want to go "Oh, it was a product of the times, you can't be bothered by it now, don't get your panties in a wad." Uh, yeah, I can wad my panties if I want, but not in a BAN IT, DESTROY IT!!!! way. Instead, in a "see, this...yeah, maybe we shouldn't do this" kind of way.

I mean, my username...Heinlein has some seriously problematic works. And I don't try to say they're not, I say "Yeah...they are. And we can learn from that."

I do believe in not financially supporting problematic creators of things while still enjoying their things...I buy used. There, I've supported a local business instead.

My personal example:
I *love* Ender's Game. That book...changed my young life and I reread it about every couple of years. I keep spare copies of it to give to people who've never read it, but I ONLY every buy them used, because I'm not giving money to Orson Scott Card, he's a giant douche canoe.

If I recommend it to someone and they go "No, OSC is a douche canoe" then I just go "Okay, I understand." And don't try to explain away his douche canoeness just to get someone to read a book. I respect their choice to not read it because of who wrote it.

Humans can, and do all the damn time, hold two (or more) conflicting ideals in their minds. You can acknowledge something is problematic and why, while still acknowledging it's creativity or skill or impact or whatever.

...all of which I don't think answered any questions you actually asked, but I'm exhausted and rambly tonight, so.

Jan. 18th, 2016 07:04 pm (UTC)
There is a saying that well behaved women rarely make history. I don't recall who originated it, or indeed, if it is even attributed. But the same applies in any sort of history, for all demographics.

We as a race have traditionally not been capable of making changes — even those that desperately need to be made — by always playing nicey-nice and pretending everything is okay. And even if and when we do get any aspect of our society to a point at which we have done away with some particular evil, the quickest path to seeing its ugly head reared again is to white wash over it, sweep it under the rug, and pretend it never happen. Then we become desensitized to it, and raise a whole new generation who doesn't know to avoid that particular pitfall.

We as a progressive people have a responsibility with our art to address these issues, to hold a mirror in front of a public that does not want to see, and to force ourselves to look at the ugliness in ourselves, so that may be disgusted enough to want to change it. And when it does change, and becomes outdated and archaic, then we can feel we have accomplished something, but we cannot forget where we have come from, lest we end up right back there again.

We can't burn books that represent who we used to be, and we cannot stop writing works that represent who we really are. This is not a Stepford world, and if we keep trying to pretend that it is, we will only destroy it.

Jan. 18th, 2016 11:36 pm (UTC)
Eleanor Roosevelt.
Jan. 18th, 2016 11:48 pm (UTC)
Actually, that's a common misconception, the way that people often attribute Shakespeare to the Bible. I actually knew who said it, but I also knew that it's commonly incorrectly attributed, and didn't want to make a kerfluffle of it, as that wasn't really the point, but only a lead-in to the point. (Sometimes I feign ignorance for the sake of moving past a hotly debated item.) ;)
Jan. 18th, 2016 07:27 pm (UTC)
I think the Red Hot Chili Peppers said it best:

Jan. 19th, 2016 04:46 pm (UTC)
Best example that comes to my mind -- I love the cleaned up, family friendly, network television version of "Coming to America."
I cannot watch the uncensored version.
I do not think the government should ban the uncensored version, however, as many other people do LIKE that version. Just not me...
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )


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