Me during the broadcast of "Much On Demand" outside in front of the Muchmusic building in Toronto, ON on September 25, 2003.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" and Bullying

Here are my thoughts on this whole Dire Straits "Money For Nothing" fiasco, where the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that the 1985 song should now be censored, with the offending word "faggot" removed from the song.

And, as usual, my opinions are completely different from anyone else's, and don't reflect anything I've read anywhere so far.

While I can totally understand the arguments against censorship or editing of this song, I don't mind if it's edited to take the word "faggot" out. (And I'm not gay.) Actually, I'd rather hear that word or the "N" word bleeped out of songs than the various sexual representations of coarse language like "fuck" or "cock."

You see, there is an element out there that think that that song is actually celebrating the attitudes of the two retail appliance workers Mark Knopfler overheard and immortalized in song.

I personally refer to that element in society as the "macho redneck caveman bullies (MRCB)."

These are the guys who were bullies when they were 10 years old in 1972, and probably still are today. It's great that people are trying to do things about bullying in schools now, but what about the 10-year old 1972 bullies who are 40-something-year-old truck drivers and factory workers now? Do people think they're too far gone for help? That they can't deal with the potential verbal and physical violence from these MRCB if they tried to somehow corral their redneck behaviour and attitudes?

When I read in the papers of today's bullies and what kind of things they bully people about, NONE of it matches what the MRCB of the '70s cared about and bullied people over.

Basically, these guys want all males around their age to be exactly like them. You must be a sports fan, - preferably listing hockey fights as your favorite "sport" - you must drink beer very, very fast, you must work in the warehouse and DESPISE all so called "office people" when they are not standing there, you must wear a baseball cap and have a mustache, and you must judge music artists by how hard it is to play the guitars in their songs, which is why the favorite band of MRCB is Rush. (Wonder what the MRCB think of Maroon 5 or hip-hop music, or anything on Muchmusic's New.Music.Live.) The MRCB figure that if anyone can learn to play the instruments in a given song, then what good is the band that plays that song? Then you try to get the MRCBs to explain guitar playing, to explain what the difference between Rush and Kiss guitar playing is, and why and how Rush playing is more intricate, and instead of an intelligent answer, the MRCBs just become more and more upset, start yelling and screaming, and don't answer your question. I had to wait 20 years to read the answer in a guitar magazine, and it was actually so intellectual of an answer that I couldn't totally understand it myself, since I'm not a guitar player.

If you don't fit in with all of the above atributes, like for example, if it takes you an hour to drink a beer like I used to be (I can drink one in half an hour now), then you are branded a "faggot" by the MRCB and you are bullied. Period. I think of the song "If You Don't Start Drinking, I'm Gonna Leave" by George Thorogood. That's the only song that comes close to acknowledging the existance of MRCBs, and, wouldn't you know it, it's a song that supports them. Except around here, it should be called, "If You Don't Start Drinking, YOU'RE Gonna Leave." That's more what I'm accustomed to. If you and the MRCB are 10 years old in 1972, you are bullied on the schoolyard at recess, until a teacher shows up. Then the bully changes his attitude and the teacher wonders what the problem is. If you and the MRCB are 45 years old in 2007, you are bullied in the workplace, until an "office person" shows up. Then the bully changes his attitude and the "office person" wonders what the problem is. Oh, and the bully is the warehouse manager, too. And his boss, the CEO is a bully, too, but I don't want to digress here. Let's get back to the Dire Straits song.

The argument of the MRCB is that Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits know what "good music" is (which is basically anything played on CITI FM) and so, the appliance workers Knopfler overheard inspired him to write "Money For Nothing" to point out, through quoting those workers, how awful and terrible artists like Michael Jackson and Prince are, which includes calling them faggots. Doesn't matter that the MRCB are completely and totally off the mark. They'll just say to anyone reading this who will try to tell them that Knopfler wrote that song to expose how ignorant those workers are, "How do you know? Do you know Dire Straits personally?" The MRCB don't know them personally, either, of course, but you can't convince them that what they look upon as normal behaviour by people who they think are "their own kind" is anything but. Oh, and don't think I've neglected an artist's look, either: in order for an artist to gain the respect of the MRCB, they must look like the way Boston or Foreigner look on the covers of their first albums. They can't wear anything or have hairstyles that would cause the MRCB to NOT WANT TO BE SEEN WITH THEM IN PUBLIC, i.e., anything that would brand them as "faggots." (1970s FM radio fans beating up AM radio fans could be another image the mind conjures up here.)

And, because there are so many MRCBs still out there, that's why this issue involving this song from 1985 has hit a nerve with the Canadian public. (The issue would be more intense only if the song were from 1975 or 1978 rather than 1985.)

Do something about bullies in high school today, those hip-hop-or-weird-band-loving gang members? Sure, why not? Everyone supports that. But try to take one small step against the MRCBs that have never been attacked before - "hey, that's US!" and all hell breaks loose.

The MRCBs have it coming, and have had it coming for 40 years now. I don't like being called a faggot, even though I'm not gay.

So if the CBSC wants that word censored, they'll get no argument from me. If it isn't censored, well, hopefully what the press writes about the real reasons Knopfler wrote the song are correct, and so that's fine with me, too. Either way, hopefully this will finally open up discussion on finally doing something about bullying from the MRCBs.

Now if we can only get the uncensored version of "Patron Tequila" by The Paradiso Girls played on Hot 103, heh, heh.....