Shane MacGowan Defends Fairytale Of New York’s Homophobic Slur

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December 7, 2018 | 7:25am EST

The Pogues frontman Shane Macgowan has defended the use of a homophobic slur in his Christmas hit Fairytale Of New York.
Since its release in 1988, the track has become one of the world’s most beloved festive songs – with revelers often singing along to his and Kirsty MacColl’s melancholy lyrics about a relationship crushed by addiction.
One line has long caused controversy, however, as MacColl, who died in 2000, sings to MacGowan that he’s a “cheap lousy f**got” midway through the song – and this year campaigners have intensified their calls for the word to be edited out when it is played.
The veteran rocker, 60, has now addressed the matter by issuing a statement to Ireland’s The Tonight Show saying that he included the slur as the song is supposed to be an accurate depiction of two nasty people.
“She is not supposed to be a nice person, or even a wholesome person,” he explained. “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.”
He went on to say that if people failed to understand he was trying to portray an authentic person, he would be “fine” with it being censored. BBC Radio 1 bosses first edited out the word in 2007, sparking criticism from MacColl’s mother, Jean. They eventually backed down and aired the song uncensored – but it has been cut again in recent years.
Fairytale of New York isn’t the only Christmas classic to cause controversy, as 1940s hit Baby It’s Cold Outside has been banned by several U.S. radio stations due to lyrics some claim hint at a potential date rape.