Friday, January 14, 2011

Money for Nothing critics don't know their facts

You know what bugs me the most about this Money for Nothing controversy? The stupid journalists who forget the context. They are all coming out against the censoring of the lyrics, but they have their historical context wrong ...which bugs me more than the censoring of the 25-year-old lyric.
In fact, the Post had an opinion piece to put the song in context, and they got the context wrong. The most offensive paragraphs are as follows:

"Dire Straits are in a sense poking fun at themselves as the musicians who are getting their 'money for nothing,' but also clearly at what Knopfler has called the 'hard-hat mentality' of the delivery guy. If you pay attention, it’s practically impossible to conflate the identity of the character in the song with that of the singer. The panel seems to be suffering from a severe irony deficiency.

What’s more, the panel mentions, confusingly, that 'like other racially driven [sic] words in the English language, ‘faggot’ is one that, even if entirely or marginally acceptable in earlier days, is no longer so.' But again, this distinction misses the point that Knopfler was singing it in character and ridiculing the kind of person who would use the word “faggot” to designate something other than a bundle of wood."

The writer is wrong. From what I remember of the time, Knopfler hated MTV. But MTV had become so important to marketing music, he could no longer avoid it, so he succumbed. But he did it by taking a shot at the medium through Money for Nothing. And you'll notice the video is animated. He wouldn't put himself in it.

The song is about vapid videos. The song is about style over substance. You have to remember the time. This was the age of Boy George and Culture Club, Duran Duran pretty boys, George Michael (gasp!). Knopfler was speaking through the working man, in this case, a delivery guy, against these "yo yos" who couldn't play worth a damn, but who wore make-up and looked wild.

Knopfler is an accomplished musician. To him, many of these acts (as is still the case) were nothing more than made-up window dressing. They made all the dough, while real musicians struggled. And that is what the MTV age ushered in. And it's no different today. There are bands out there with great, great musicianship and talent, who travel in vans to dives in second-rate cities, while the Lady Gaga's of the world rake in millions.

It makes me angry.

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