The Euphemist

Reflections on Jewish Studies and many other subjects big and little, by a perpetual student who sometimes searches a little too long for just the right word ...

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Christian, truth seeker, husband, son, brother & uncle, Lutheran pastor, musician (cello, etc.), Jewish Studies grad student, intellectual historian, aquarium enthusiast & pet owner, philologist, astronomer, Norwegian-American, Ford pickup driver, buffoon.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bowdlerization, 21st Century style

This evening I was flipping through stations, as I occasionally do when driving alone, and an Oldies station, to my surprise, was playing Money For Nothing by Dire Straits (I didn't remember that station playing anything newer than the 70s before). I have a hard time resisting the urge to assist Sting on his harmony vocals.

Then came the little surprise. The line came in which the appliance-moving protagonist points out "that little [practitioner of an alternative lifestyle] with the earring and the makeup...", but somehow it didn't sound the same. Sure enough, when the same word came up again, it had been electronically garbled so, to my ears, it sounded roughly like "fed-huff" as pronounced by some patron of the cantina in Mos Eisley (you know, the one in which Han shot first, ehem).

That little fed-huff has his own jet airplane
That little fed-huff is a millionaire

Nothing else was changed, of course. Certainly not the parts in which the protagonist is lusting after the "easy easy chicks for free." Just the parts which don't fit with today's ethic.

I suppose there are much better songs to sing along with anyway.


Anonymous Dave said...

There are better songs to sing along with? I'm still waiting to hear them.

Apparently Mark Knopfler self-censors the song in concert.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I'm glad to hear that Knopfler self-censors the song. I guess I felt torn by a small amount of loyalty to the "original text" of the song, plus the fact that I don't think the intent of the song was to call homosexuals names, but to portray a character. And there are lots of people who really talk and think like the guy in the song.

But, since words are powerful, I guess I'm glad that Knopfler is in on the bowdlerization himself. But I looked up Money For Nothing on Wikipedia, & found that words such as "mother" have been substituted for the word in question, which doesn't help much, since "mother" as an epithet is short for, well, something else.

My suggestion for a substitute word would be "yoyo", since it's much more innocent, & appears elsewhere in the song.

But my main point, which may not have been very clear, is that if we're going to censor one moral issue, we ought to censor others as well. But the portrayal of lust in Money For Nothing is pretty mild compared to some of the stuff by Fergie and Nelly Furtado & many others, so by today's standards that's seems to be out of the question.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous michael h said...

I wonder whose idea the electronic alteration of that lyric really was. I am inclined to believe it was just more P.C. historical revisionism (Orwell's "newspeak"), but maybe I am just paranoid like that...

5:06 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

The historical revisionism angle had occurred to me too. The day could be coming when one could be convicted for a "hate crime" for owning a copy of the unaltered version.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous michael h said...

In Canada, it's illegal to preach a sermon about homosexuality being a sin. The law defines it as "hate speech".

8:07 AM  

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