Dire Straits for Contextual Creativity

So the big news from the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council is their ban of the Dire Straits’ classic rock song “Money for Nothing” from play on Canadian radio. Why? Because Mark Knopfler put the language of many uneducated, low-income males into the mouths of uneducated, low-income males.

I won’t get into the debate of whether the word “faggot” should be considered offensive enough to warrant such a ban, but I will say this: the context in which it was used here was entirely appropriate. Men such as those depicted in the song aren’t going to be using the word “homosexuals”.

Side note: I sang this song in my high school band and was too sensitive to others to use the pejorative. I substituted it for the word “fella”.

Prose should follow the same rules. In my own novel, Raincloud, uneducated, low-income males use many offensive slurs against First Nations people. Conversely, the First Nations characters use references and display attitudes that could be considered offensive to whites. These characters are not politically correct and reflect attitudes that are prevalent in the real world.

Is using pejoratives such as “faggot” in literature glorifying it? I don’t think so.  If anything, using them exposes archaic attitudes that need to be addressed. And I’d be quite surprised if Mark Knopfler is homophobic or intended to promote homophobia.

Not that I know him or anything…

Richard Todd is a Canadian author and blogger. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com

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Behold – The Jon Cohen Experimental

Montreal-based The Jon Cohen Experimental pulls into Toronto this weekend for two gigs as part of their three-month North American tour – and you can get your very own copy of their CD Behold by being one of the first 20 people in the door!

At first listen, the CD conjurs up thoughts of 70s progressive bands that didn’t worry about hit singles, opting instead to remain true to their art. But what sets Behold apart is that it’s so marvellously understated. No screaming vocals, no screeching guitar, no pounding drums to shake your speakers or keyboards flooding the background. Everything fits cohesively, from Cohen’s gentle vocals to the dynamic rhythm section to the array of guest musicians.

Understatement encourages closer attention and the listener is rewarded with enough little bits to keep them interested throughout. A sitar rings, a saxophone weaves in and out and a bold brass section underpins the guitars and drums that hold it all together. On top of it all are the aforementioned vocals of Cohen and his poetic, introspective lyrics, such as these from “Hold the Fire”:

“I had to bury a dream, that I had written on a patch of snow. And now compassion, compassion is the muscle that I exercise like a flame to help it grow.”

The Jon Cohen Experimental will be at Toronto’s Korova Milk Bar (Jan 6th) and the Hard Luck Bar (Jan 7th). The first 20 people in the door to either gig will recieve a free copy of Behold.  Can’t make it to one of the Toronto dates? Click here to see other tour dates near you. No matter where you are, be sure to check them out!

Behold (JCX001); The Jon Cohen Experimental (3.5 out of 5)

Richard S. Todd is a Canadian author and blogger. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.

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