Shane MacGowan responds to calls for the word ‘f****t’ to be removed from ‘Fairytale Of New York’

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The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan has responded after it was argued that the word ‘f****t’ should be removed from their classic Christmas song ‘Fairytale of New York’ because it’s a “homophobic slur”.

Thomas Haynes, who this week wrote an article for The Tab, said the lyric in track was “as bad as using the N-word”.

The verse that contains the word that he finds offensive reads: “You’re a bum / You’re a punk / You’re an old slut on junk / Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed / You scumbag, you maggot / You cheap lousy f****t / Happy Christmas your arse / I pray God it’s our last.”

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl – 'Fairytale Of New York' (1987)

But MacGowan has now responded and says that the reference was never intended to be homophobic.

“The word was used by the character 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”, MacGowan said in a statement.

“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.”

In the original article, Haynes wrote: “For some, “f****t” is just another weapon turned against homophobes, a way to way to snigger at ‘the straights’ being bone-headed and ignorant. But for others it will always evoke very specific memories of being bullied either online or in real life, or having to listen to their mates band it about as an insult.”

The student called on YouTube to remove the video from the platform because none of The Pogues bandmembers nor its guest singer, the late Kirsty McColl, are gay.

There has been a backlash to the article. Facebook users highlighted the fact that Shane MacGowan and McColl were referring to the old Irish slang word, which means a lazy person, when they wrote the song.

Aisling Daly commented beneath the article shared to Facebook, “‘Fairytale of New York’ was written by an Irishman. ‘F****t’ is an old Irish slang word for a lazy person or a waster, and that’s the meaning that Shane McGowan intended when he wrote the song. Nothing to do with homophobia.”

Chris Bad-lad Smith wrote: “Sorry as a gay man ..it doesn’t offend me ….never has .never will …some people just need to get over themselves,” while Mark David Johnson said, “I can’t tell if this is serious or not. Bore off you fucking snowflake.”

People on Twitter have spoken out against the use of the word in the song – and elsewhere.

Chris Brosnahan said, “As someone who got called quite a lot of names in the 90s at school, ‘f****t’ did not mean ‘lazy’. And the Pogues were British-Irish, gigging in London. In Fairytale of New York, the idea that ‘f****t’ wasn’t abusive is a transparent attempt to rewrite history.”

Adam Toner wants to start a petition “to get the derogatory lyrics ‘cheap lousy f****t’ removed” from the 1988 Pogues song.

And Twitter user @Ginandchronic__ said: “The pogues are a London based crock of shite interested in perpetuating stereotypical irishness for cash dollar and 👏 if you say faggot anywhere near me this Christmas period I will fight you 👏 faggot is unacceptable in ireland and anywhere 👏 this is the hill I will die on 👏.”