'Cultural vandalism' | 

BBC censoring Fairytale of New York slammed as ‘ridiculous’ new Christmas tradition

“Censoring Fairytale of New York has become as much of a Christmas tradition as hanging up stockings and putting the tree up.”

Singers Kirsty MacColl (1959 - 2000) and Shane MacGowan with toy guns and an inflatable Santa in a festive scenario, circa 1987. In 1987, the pair collaborated on the Pogues' Christmas song 'Fairytale of New York'. (Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images)© Getty Images

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

BBC Radio 2 has become the latest station to censor The Pogues’ Christmas song Fairytale of New York, a move slammed as “ridiculous.”

Every festive season, the song continues to come under fire for the use of a homophobic slur in one of the verses.

BBC Radio 1 already censored the song in Christmas of 2020.

Ella Whelan, a journalist with Spiked Online, took to Newstalk Breakfast this morning to slam the move as "cultural vandalism.”

"Censoring Fairytale of New York has become as much of a Christmas tradition as hanging up stockings and putting the tree up,” she told listeners.

"It’s getting ridiculous now.”

The journalist blamed some members of the younger generation for their “oversensitive kneejerk” reactions to the word.

"They shouldn’t take offence to just hearing a word.

“Most importantly, hearing a word in a song like that out of context should not offend and hurt you so much for you to want to censor it,” she added.

“If you are going to try to censor things, it is similar to going into an art gallery and sticking black tape over the nipples of a nude renaissance painting.

“It is changing an art form and I think that’s wrong.”

Fairytale of New York is an annual source of debate, with The Pogues’ frontman Shane MacGowan defending the use of the word “because it fitted with the way she would speak and with her character.”

“She is not supposed to be a nice person or even a wholesome person. She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history and she is down on her luck and desperate," he had said.

“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.”

However, he has previously said he has no issue with the word being bleeped out on radio.

Frontman MacGowan is currently in hospital as he recovers from an infection.

Taking to Twitter to share an update, his wife Victoria Mary Clarke said: “I just wanted to thank everyone who has been sending good wishes.

"He is being treated for an infection and the doctors are confident that he will be OK. I am just incredibly grateful to them and to all of you."

The singer has permanently been confined to a wheelchair as a result of accidents in 2016 and 2020.

He now has a fulltime carer since a fall that broke his pelvis in 2016.

His wife Victoria said the accident was brought on by his attempting of a “complicated dance move.”

In late 2020, he suffered a knee injury and torn ligaments from which he has never fully recovered.

In a rare interview with The Guardian earlier this year, he was described as looking “better than he used to” after decades of alcohol and drug use.

He credits an intervention by fellow Irish artist Sinéad O’Connor for bringing him out of his heroin addiction in 2000.


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