Billy Bragg reveals he has dropped singing ‘boys’ from Which Side Are You On? to be more ‘inclusive’ as he weighs in on controversial Roald Dahl edits
- Roald Dahl’s classic books have been heavily edited to remove language deemed as offensive
- Billy, 65, says he has made changes to his song lyrics to be more inclusive
Singer Billy Bragg has revealed he has dropped the word ‘boys’ from his hit Which Side Are You On? to be more ‘inclusive’.
The singer, 65, told fans of the changes he has made to his music as he weighed in on the edits being made to Roald Dahl’s children’s books, which are being rewritten to remove language deemed as offensive.
Publisher Puffin has hired sensitivity readers to rewrite chunks of text to make sure the books ‘can continue to be enjoyed by all today’, with considerable edits made to descriptions of the characters’ physical appearance.
Speaking out on the controversial changes, Billy supported the decision to change Dahl’s work.
He wrote on Twitter: ‘Suppose your mum wears a hairpiece due to chemotherapy and kids in your class call her a witch because they read in Dahl’s book that witches all wear wigs.’
Singer: Billy Bragg has weighed in on the Roald Dahl edits after the author’s children’s books are being rewritten to remove language deemed as offensive
Edits: When one plucky fan asked if Billy had changed his own song lyrics in case they cause offence, Billy replied: ‘I’ve already done that to make my songs more inclusive’ (pictured 1990)
Billy went on to call out Daily Telegraph journalist Suzanne Moore, who had written a piece slamming the drastic changes to text and described the edits as ‘further degradation of the publishing industry’.
And when one plucky fan asked if Billy had changed his own song lyrics in case they cause offence, Billy replied: ‘I’ve already done that to make my songs more inclusive. I don’t sing “Which side are you on, boys?’ In the song of that name. I dropped the ‘boys’.’
The chorus of the song, released in 1984, was originally: ‘Which side are you on, boys? Which side are you on? Which side are you on, boys? Which side are you on?’
Many of Billy’s followers took to the comments section to post sarcastic replies to his tweet.
One wrote: ‘So stunning & brave! How do make such Herculean efforts for the righteous good! You better be on the next honours list mate – ‘cos that’s what you need – a great big ‘ole medal pinned on that saintly chest.’
Another added: ‘Thank you Billy for changing the world one word at a time. I’ve been traumatised by the word ‘boy’ since I was a boy. It triggers memories of when I was a boy. Thanks for all you do for the non-boy community. A true modern hero.’
Others wrote: ‘The thing is you’ve decided yourself to change your art to be more inclusive. Roald Dahl isn’t getting a say in the censorship of his art.’
‘You include the word ‘England’ several times in one song. This might be seen as a snub to your Scottish and Welsh fans. There are people who will feel left out because of this. It’ll have to go,’ another follower typed.
Opinions: Speaking out on the controversial changes, Billy, 65, supported the decision to change Dahl’s work
Changes: The chorus of the song, released in 1984, was originally: ‘Which side are you on, boys? Which side are you on? Which side are you on, boys? Which side are you on?’
A third chimed: ‘You’ve got a long way to go to make your old songs ‘inclusive’. Won’t be much left of them.’
Billy’s music is heavily centred on bringing about change and involving the younger generation in activist causes.
The word ‘fat’ has been wiped from every one of Dahl’s books, with Augustus Gloop only described as ‘enormous’.
Mixed: A lot of Billy’s followers mocked him for his decision to change the lyriics
Mrs Twit’s ‘fearful ugliness’ has been chopped to ‘ugliness’ and Mrs Hoppy in Esio Trot is not an ‘attractive middle-aged lady’ but a ‘kind middle-aged lady’.
Gender is also eliminated with books no longer referring to ‘female’ characters.
Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, once a ‘most formidable female’, is now a ‘most formidable woman’, while her ‘great horsey face’ is now called ‘her face’.
READ MORE: ‘Woke’ publishing censors REWRITE Roald Dahl’s books that remove all language snowflakes might find ‘offensive’
Dahl is one of the most successful children’s authors ever, with 250 million copies of his books sold
Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s books are being rewritten by sensitivity gurus to remove language they deem offensive.
Oompa-Loompas who were once ‘small men’ are now ‘small people’ and Fantastic Mr Fox’s three sons have become daughters.
Passages not written by the late author, who died in 1990, have also been added by the publisher to complete their new editions.
In The Witches, a paragraph describing them as bald under their wigs is followed shortly by a new line: ‘There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.’
A witch posing as a ‘cashier in a supermarket’ now works as a ‘top scientist’ and Matilda reads Jane Austen instead of Rudyard Kipling.
Mental health was another focal point for sensitivity readers with the words ‘crazy’ and ‘mad’, which Dahl used in a comic fashion, removed from his books.
But the review began in 2020 when the company was still run by the Dahl family who, the same year, apologised for the author’s anti-semitic statements.
Dahl, a fighter pilot during the Second World War, is one of the best-selling children’s authors in history with more than 250 million books sold.
According to The Telegraph, Matthew Dennison, Dahl’s biographer said the author carefully chose his vocabulary, he said: ‘I’m almost certain that he would have recognised that alterations to his novels prompted by the political climate were driven by adults rather than children.’
Problems with the content of Dahl’s children’s book were heightened in 2020 when a Hollywood version of The Witches received backlash after the Grand Witch, played by Anne Hathaway, had a finger missing from each hand.
Paralympians and charities said it was offensive to the limb-difference community and Warner Bros was forced to issue an apology.
Singer: Billy’s music is heavily centred on bringing about change and involving the younger generation in activist causes (pictured 1985)
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