Singer Billy Bragg has revealed that he has dropped ‘guys’ from Whose Side Are You On? be more ‘inclusive’.
The 65-year-old singer told fans about the changes he’s made to his music by weighing in on edits being made to Roald Dahl’s children’s books, which are being rewritten to remove language deemed offensive.
Publisher Puffin has hired sensitive readers to rewrite bits of text to ensure the books “can continue to be enjoyed by all today”, with considerable edits being made to descriptions of the physical appearance of the characters.
Speaking about the controversial changes, Billy supported the decision to change Dahl’s job.
She wrote on Twitter: “Suppose your mom wears a hairpiece because of chemotherapy and the kids in her class call her a witch because they read in Dahl’s book that all witches wear wigs.”
Singer: Billy Bragg was involved in publishing Roald Dahl after the author’s children’s books were rewritten to remove language deemed offensive.
Edits: When asked by a brave fan if Billy had changed the lyrics to his own song in case they offended, Billy replied, “I’ve already done that to make my songs more inclusive” (pictured in 1990)
Billy went on to call Daily Telegraph journalist Suzanne Moore, who had written an article criticizing the drastic changes to the text, describing the edits as “a further debasement of the publishing industry”.
And when one brave fan asked if Billy had changed the lyrics to his own song in case they offended, Billy replied, “I’ve already done that to make my songs more inclusive.” I don’t sing “Which side are you guys on?” In the song of that name, I dropped the ‘boys’.
The refrain for the song, released in 1984, was originally: ‘Whose side are you guys on? What side are you on? Which side are you guys on? What side are you on?’
Many of Billy’s fans applauded the hitmaker for his “herculean efforts” with some calling him a “modern day hero.”
One wrote: ‘So awesome and brave! How to make such herculean efforts for the just good! You better be on the next honor roll, mate, because that’s what you need: a great big medal pinned to that holy chest.
Another added: ‘Thank you Billy for changing the world one word at a time. I have been traumatized by the word ‘child’ since I was a child. It brings back memories of when I was a child. Thanks for all you do for the non-boys community. A true modern hero.
But others disagreed.
One wrote: ‘The thing is, you yourself have decided to change your art to be more inclusive. Roald Dahl has no say in censoring his art.
‘You include the word ‘England’ several times in a song. This could be seen as a slight to your Scottish and Welsh fans. There are people who will feel left out by this. It will have to go away,” another follower wrote.
Opinions: Speaking about the controversial changes, Billy, 65, supported the decision to change Dahl’s job.
Changes: The chorus of the song, released in 1984, was originally: ‘Whose side are you guys on? What side are you on? Which side are you guys on? What side are you on?’
A third chimed in: “You have a long way to go to make your old songs ‘inclusive.’ There won’t be much left of them.
Billy’s music is heavily focused on bringing about change and engaging the younger generation in activist causes.
It comes after the descriptions of some of Roald Dahl’s favorite characters have been edited for offense.
The word ‘fat’ has been deleted from every one of Dahl’s books, with Augustus Gloop only being described as ‘huge’.
Mixed: Many of Billy’s followers applauded the hitmaker for his “Herculean efforts” with some calling him a “modern day hero” but others disagreed.
The ‘terrible ugliness’ of Mrs Twit has become ‘ugliness’ and Mrs Hoppy in Esio Trot is not an ‘attractive middle-aged lady’ but a ‘kind middle-aged lady’.
Gender is also removed and the books no longer refer to ‘female’ characters.
Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, once a ‘most formidable woman’, is now a ‘most formidable woman’, while her ‘great horse face’ is now called ‘her face’.
The Oompa-Loompas that were once ‘little men’ are now ‘little people’ and Fantastic Mr Fox’s three sons have become daughters.
The publisher has also added passages not written by the late author, who died in 1990, to complete its new editions.
In The Witches, a paragraph describing them as bald under their wigs is briefly followed by a new line: “There are plenty of other reasons women might wear wigs and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.”
A witch posing as a ‘supermarket cashier’ now works as a ‘top scientist’ and Matilda reads Jane Austen instead of Rudyard Kipling.
Mental health was another focal point for sensitive readers with the words ‘mad’ and ‘mad’, which Dahl used comically, removed from his books.
But the review began in 2020 when the company was still run by the Dahl family who, that same year, apologized for the author’s anti-Semitic statements.
Dahl, a fighter pilot during World War II, is one of the best-selling children’s authors in history with more than 250 million books sold.
According The TelegraphMatthew Dennison, Dahl’s biographer, said the author chose his vocabulary carefully, saying, “I am almost certain he would have recognized that the alterations to his novels brought about by the political climate were prompted by adults rather than children.”
Problems with the content of Dahl’s children’s book increased in 2020 when a Hollywood version of The Witches received backlash after the High Witch, played by Anne Hathaway, was missing a finger on each hand.
Paralympians and charities said it was offensive to the limb difference community and Warner Bros was forced to apologize.
Singer: Billy’s music is heavily focused on bringing about change and engaging the younger generation in activist causes (pictured 1985)