So, since I don’t watch Glee and I rarely listen to the radio, I found out only the other day that Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck you!” has a pg-13 version under the more subdued title of “Forget you”; they call it a ‘radio edit’ but, where a radio edit is usually edited for length, this one is just edited for language.
I’m not one who usually thinks it’s particularly interesting or challenging to put a ‘fuck’ right there in the chorus, but I still do wonder what’s the point of making a song with a swearword in it if then you agree to have it removed in order to get more air- and screen-play.
“But,” I hear you saying, “being on TV and the radio is the only way a song can get popular. And if to get on the radio one has to sanitize the song, well, that’s the price to pay.”
Yes, my dears. That’s the price to pay to get popular and possibly rich with the song you didn’t believe in in the first place. Because either the song needed that ‘fuck you’, and so you wouldn’t have allowed anyone to remove it, or it didn’t need it in the first place and was there just for the chock value.
I’m reminded of similar acts of puritanism during the ’80s in Italy, though for different reasons. A tumor in De Gregori’s “Alice” became a “something” in the radio version; Guccini’s “Dio è morto” (God is dead) couldn’t be aired without an extra cringe-worthy strophe with a resurrection; and, in a spectacular case of Not Getting It, when Milva sung Fossati’s “Una notte in Italia”, the bit about “her breasts aimed straight to my heart” became a contemplative “his eyes”. Dull.
Now, let me tell you about a song that came out just a few days ago. A song whose first verses are, aptly enough:
They don’t play the song on the radio,
they don’t show the tits on the video
I’m talking about Amanda Palmer’s “Map of Tasmania”, which is a song about many things:
It’s a song about Australian slang.
It’s a song about pubic hair.
It’s a song about not being afraid of showing what others would find distasteful.
It’s a song about the media, and things going viral, and about not doing things a certain way because that’s how things are done, but because they’re your way, and they work for you, and they make you feel right.
“Map of Tasmania” has no advertising beyond that of the fans, is getting no airtime beyond that of some small radios, doesn’t have a recording label behind to push it to the top of the charts. But it’s fast becoming popular on Twitter, because of dedicated fans and the power of the interwebs, but most of all because it’s a fucking good song with phat beats that is not afraid to use language and talk about lady bits and be honest about what it’s showing off.
We are the media. We don’t need your silly restrictions.
post scriptum: since I mentioned it in the title but then failed to talk about it in the actual post, there are also several ways to swear-without-swearing that have been used since forever in both radio and television – frak, frell, yotz, and so on. Even euphemisms like ‘Map of Tasmania’. If one wants to swear, he’ll find a way.