The song was a hit, one of the Dire Straits' most popular songs, and won the Grammy in 1985 for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with a Vocal. It's been played with the three faggots in it since then. But someone complained to the private board in Canada that's charged with keeping the airways clean, and now it won't be played anymore.
Here's the song, in case you don't know it (although you'll probably recognize it). I have some thoughts on the censorship after the jump.
The song's about a guy who complains that rock stars have life too easy, and that being a real worker is where the suffering is. The second verse is:
See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup Yeah buddy that's his own hair That little faggot got his own jet airplane That little faggot he's a millionaire
That's basically what Michael Mark Knopfler, the Dire Straits frontman who co-wrote the song with Sting, had to say about the song's meaning:
The layers of irony in "Money for Nothing" have certainly confused people.
I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London - he actually said it was "below the belt." Apart from the fact that there are stupid gay people as well as stupid other people, it suggests that maybe you can't let it have so many meanings - you have to be direct.
In fact, I'm still in two minds as to whether it's a good idea to write songs that aren't in the first person, to take on other characters. The singer in "Money for Nothing" is a real ignoramus, hard hat mentality - somebody who sees everything in financial terms. I mean, this guy has a grudging respect for rock stars. He sees it in terms of, well, that's not working and yet the guys rich: that's a good scam. He isn't sneering.
I don't have any particular love for classic rock generally or the Dire Straits particularly, but their use of the word "faggot" there seems a lot more like Green Day's use here:
Well maybe I'm the faggot America. I'm not a part of a redneck agenda. Now everybody do the propaganda. And sing along to the age of paranoia.
It's not a particularly offensive use of the term, but who am I to judge as an American writing on an American website. One thing that makes Alberto laugh about American TV is the way the swear words get bleeped out, as if hearing the word "fuck" is going to warp someone's mind. French TV just broadcasts those words because it's not like people haven't heard them before.
Taken in that context, it's not so bad. I don't mind people seeing "faggot" on the same level as the word "fuck." While there is a major question of artistic integrity here, with "faggot" being used as much more than just a random insult or a directly homophobic slur, it's a major question that's been posed a thousand times and this is the answer that at least the US and Canada seem to have settled on - when they're being broadcast on the public's airwaves, specific words should be blocked out. People can still buy the record or watch it on YouTube.