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I’ll be honest, when I was writing about the Arctic Monkeys’ latest album “Suck It And See” and the possibility that it might somehow be offensive, I wasn’t really sure how much of a big deal it really was. Clearly there was an element of cultural misunderstanding going on, but then it’s not as if the band don’t know a good double entendre when they hear one. And we’re all reasonable people, aren’t we?
So you can imagine my state of shock when I read some of the comments that came through on BBC America’s Facebook page about this political hot potato.
Not least the one from Madeleine Harbin reminding me of the band Candyland who… Well I’ll let her tell the story:
“This is the sad thing: circa 1991 a British group called Candyland released an album with the exact same title. It wasn’t a hit or anything, yet I remember it. Look it up. Nothing new.”
Now, maybe if Candyland were brilliant, this would’ve been a national outrage. And looking at their album, I can certainly see why people would think it was offensive. I mean look at it! It’s a graphical nightmare!
Anyway here are some of the excellent points made on this issue by the BBCA Facebook massive. Err, not that I’m calling anyone fat, you understand, that’s just another idiom at work. There’s another one at the end of this first comment, and I’ve no idea what it means. That’s part of the glory of words:
Jennifer Faith: OMFG, gimme a break! Speaking as an American with a solid belief in free speech (I THOUGHT we had that here, anyway) some people need to freaking LIGHTEN UP! As others have already stated, it’s the ones in the minority with the loudest mouths here. It’s the whole short-guy/little dog syndrome.
Wendy Larch-Munoz: I don’t remember controversy over “Take Off Your Pants and Jacket”. But that was Blink 182 and they used symbols instead of text. Bit more clever. I guess Arctic Monkeys don’t care for that. Just put it out there.
Kathleen Sommers Vavich: Yes it is offensive, especially to children. I chose not to use such vulgarity. That said, this is America. The land of free speech. I sure don’t want to be censored about what I say or write. You’re free to offend me, just don’t get in a huff if I offend you. Those speaking out against the album cover also have freedom of speech.
Abby Gates: I love the Arctic Monkeys, and I think that the cover fits it perfectly, it’s just one of those phrases that we dont use over here, and people freak out when they are too stupid to find out what it means, and make up some other meaning for it in their heads that is wrong.
Holly Wickman: Some people sure get uptight over things. In a world that should be more open minded it seems many of time it gets less and less.
Rebecca Hall: There’s definitely an alternate meaning for “suck it” over here in the States, but that doesn’t quite carry over into “suck it and see.” It sounds naughty to my uneducated ears, but now that I know what it means (and that it carries the candy theme from “Humbug”), I like it.
Michelle Hermark: Well, when I saw that an image saying only, “Suck It And See” was posted by BBC America I automatically assumed it was some kind of idiom and made the candy connection. But if I just saw this on a shelf by itself, without any context, I wouldn’t have made the connection and been mystified. I’m going to put this in the same unfortunate category as the Peace Sign/V for Victory/Two Finger Salute gesture dissconnect.
Cynthia Finnegan: To me, it’s not. It’s funny, cheeky, irreverent, and a teeny bit rude, but not offensive.
Jim Brenneman: I for one am more offended by people who are offended than a bunch of words. At least it says “SUCK” and not some of the more enjoyable four letter words.
Casey Malone: Well, I guess if the music can’t gain the attention…..
Marko Lekic: I’m American, and I think it’s cool. the rest of them are probably just being pillocks =P
And if you don’t know what THAT word means, well that’s another story for another time. Nighty-night!
“Short guy/little dog”? Is that a thing? Tell us here.
See more posts by Fraser McAlpine
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic