Shane MacGowan has defended the Christmas hit ‘Fairytale of New York’ amid accusations of homophobia.
The Pogues hit, released in 1987, includes a conversation between two down-and-out New Yorkers performed in the style of an Irish folk ballad. At one point, the character in the song performed by Kirsty MacColl, sings the line: “You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot.”
For a number of years, there have been calls to boycott the song over the use of the word which was originally used as traditional Irish slang for a “lazy person” but the homophobic connotations of the word now have caused issues.
MacGowan was forced to defend the track last year when he wrote “her dialogue is as accurate as I could make it but she is not intended to offend,” in a statement. “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.”
Now, in a new interview with Ireland’s Late Late Show, MacGowan has again been drawn into a conversation about the controversy: “I’ve been told it’s insulting to gays,” MacGowan said “I don’t understand how that works. Nobody in the band thinks that’s worth a second’s thought.”
While some people have called for a boycott of the song, others have urged radio stations to bleep out the word in question. Discussing this possibility in a past statement, MacGowan added: “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.”