Fairytale Of New York Singer Doesn't Understand Why F-Word Slur Is 'Insulting To Gays'

The Pogues singer Shane MacGowan has again defended the Christmas song's controversial lyric.

The Pogues singer Shane MacGowan has said he “doesn’t understand” how the use of the word “f****t” is “insulting to gays” in Christmas song Fairytale Of New York.

The festive track, which was first released in 1987, features the late Kirsty MacColl in character singing the line “You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy f****t”.

The lyric has been the subject of debate for a number of years now, with each Christmas seeing renewed calls for the homophobic slur to be censored.

However, the band’s frontman has once again defended the use of the word, saying on Ireland’s Late Late Show: “There is no political correctness to it.

Shane MacGowan of The Pogues
Shane MacGowan of The Pogues
Tristan Fewings via Getty Images

“I’ve been told it’s insulting to gays. I don’t understand how that works.”

He added: “Fuck that. Nobody in the band thinks that’s worth a second’s thought.”

Shane then went on to perform the song on the show, with singer Philomena Begley singing the controversial lyric uncensored.

It is not the first time Shane has defended the use of the word, previously claiming it “fitted with the way” the characters speak in the song, which is an argument between two down-on-their-luck New Yorkers, performed in the style of an Irish ballad.

Shane with the late Kirsty MacColl in 1987
Shane with the late Kirsty MacColl in 1987
Tim Roney via Getty Images

“She is not supposed to be a nice person, or even a wholesome person,” he told The Tonight Show in 2018.

“She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history and she is down on her luck and desperate. Her dialogue is as accurate as I could make it but she is not intended to offend!

“She is just supposed to be an authentic character and not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable, sometimes characters in songs and stories have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively.

“If people don’t understand that I was trying to accurately portray the character as authentically as possible, then I am absolutely fine with them bleeping the word, but I don’t want to get into an argument.”

Back in 2007, Radio 1 edited the words “f****t” and “slut” from the track to “avoid offence”.

The decision was met with a backlash at the time, with Kirsty’s mother describing it as “too ridiculous”.

The BBC later announced it had reversed the decision and continued to play the song uncensored.


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