In September 2021, singer Rick Astley and the band Blossoms announced a couple of gigs where they would play the music of the Smiths.
Tweets and articles raved that Rick was the solution to the Morrissey problem, and a think piece defending him, published on Morrissey Central, was used to denounce him for objecting to being erased from his own work.
As something symbolic Rick Astley “reclaiming” the Smiths from Morrissey is one of the most disgusting things our culture has thrown up.
This is our Marquis of Queensberry moment – casting out the “somdomite” so nice clean people can enjoy the Importance of being Earnest without the taint of Oscar Wilde.
Morrissey wrote those songs to make space for the socially awkward – the shy, anxious, depressed; singing from the heart, hated for loving, never giving in – & they’ve been appropriated by Stock, Aitken & Waterman.
The dominant mainstream owns everything.
Revelling in the idea that it might cause the marginals pain.
Morrissey isn’t ‘increasingly problematic’. He’s been demonized. Held to a standard no one “normal” would have been held to. Had motives assigned to him that he doesn’t have. His words & actions twisted & spun into a narrative that has at its core a homophobic lie.
On July 29th 1992, Nicky Crane – National Front skinhead and Screwdriver roadie; who featured in the same Nick Knight photo essay as the V-flicker on a Morrissey t-shirt – came out as gay on the UK Channel 4 documentary, Out: The Skin Complex, that explored gay skinhead subculture.
On August 22nd 1992, the NME spent 5 pages denouncing Morrissey as a racist for playing 1 of 2 planned gigs with headliners Madness, at Finsbury Park, where he was heckled by a homophobic crowd while thrashing about a Union Jack flag in front of a Derek Ridgers art print of 2 skinhead girls.
Despite lead singer, Suggs’s skinhead past and old Skrewdriver connections, Madness was deemed ‘unfortunate’ for attracting the racist crowd. Derek Ridgers worried that Morrissey had demeaned the girls in the art print, who WERE racist imagery. Flowered Up, another band on the bill, thought Morrissey had asked for trouble by ‘prancing around‘.
Most of the National Front supporters were outside Finsbury Park to oppose a march for a cause Morrissey supported, British troops out of Northern Ireland (he’s from an Irish Catholic family). The National Front’s most violent organiser, Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair, was a fan of reggae band UB40, and his loyalist paramilitary gang killed Catholics while listening to rave.
But still the NME lied that Morrissey was a Little England British Nationalist, that his imagery was racist, that he was fanning the flames of race-hate, that Bengali in Platforms was a diatribe against assimilation, supportive of ex-Conservative Ulster Unionist MP Enoch Powell, inciting calls for immigrants to be deported, that he wanted a pre-immigration green and pleasant England, that he wanted an English ethno-state, that he was provoking genocide, and – in a technique that now dominates his coverage – cobbled together so many snippets of lyrics and interviews spuriously branded racist that to refute them all would look demented; no fire without all THAT smoke. Even his quiff was racist for being a 1950s style.
And, taking their cue from The Skin Complex, they speculated that he had a sexual fetish for racism, that he was getting vicarious skinhead thrills, that he was using real men, like skinheads, The Angelic Upstarts, as a cover; and noted that ‘Richard Allen’s skinhead chronicles are full of sickening accounts of violence against blacks. And for that matter, homosexuals’.
And for that matter, that was their real point.
Someone must have watched it, got excited, thought OH THAT’S WHAT HE’S UP TO and decided to disguise their usual prurient, repressed homophobic obsession with his sex life beneath a heap of lurid faux righteous anti-racism.
Dr Dinesh Bhugra, a psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry, speaking on Skin Complex, the Channel 4 programme to be screened on Wednesday, argues that gay men adopting the skinhead image is not surprising. In a society that is producing a tremendous amount of homophobia, you have to try and protect yourself by whichever means you can and if, in order to do it, it means you are identifying with the oppressor then people will do that in order to survive. (Independent, 26th July 1992)
Let’s not forget that the adolescent Morrissey used to be chased through the streets of Manchester at night by leering beer-boys, some of whom may have held NF sympathies, simply for being ‘different’. And he definitely spent a lot of time in Whalley Range, a multi-racial area. Is he now identifying with his former oppressors? Has he changed from the persecuted to the persecutor? Or, is he fascinated by the idea of racism, by the look of violent skinheads, to the extent of being oppressed so much he falls in love with his oppressors? (NME, August 1992)
Sire had sidelined the Smiths in America after Rolling Stone labeled Morrissey gay.
A piece in Rolling Stone claimed Morrissey was gay, completely contradicting his stand against sexual roles and their divisive consequences. “That brought a lot of problems for me”, he recalls ruefully. “Of course I never made such a statement”, Immediately their American record company, Sire, recoiled from supporting The Smiths. “They were petrified”, he remembers with disgust. “I thought that kind of writing epitomised the mentality of the American music press. That sicking macho stuff. After it appeared in Rolling Stone it ran rife through the lesser known publications, which to me was profoundly dull”. (Melody Maker, November 1984)
Saved by the success of Vauxhall and I, but battered by label, legal, personal and management issues; and excluded by the music press from Britpop, he moved to LA and built an audience of equally excluded Chicanos.
In 2002 the NME mournfully accused him of giving the illusion of intimacy while never discussing his sexuality, and of being ambiguous, unambiguous, brutally upfront and distastefully infatuated with racism.
In 2004, You Are The Quarry, gave him a brief respite.
… excised from the hearts of many, horrified by the messy “flirtation” with racist imagery. (VS, NME, November 1999)
… nevermind the shaky accusations of racism… all those years of being Mother Teresa for the clumsy and shy and suddenly he was being reviled for crimes he’d never committed. (VS, Mojo, May 2004)
But his shyness, difficulty with social norms and outsider art meant the press soon fell back on ridicule, demonisation, inflammatory headlines and witch-hunts.
For a spell his public image has fused with the forgotten Nicky Crane – a bad gay, toxic, shunned, unwholesome; his empathetic solo work unbelievably synonymous with Skrewdriver.
NAZI FARTSY : Earsay’s snippets (Channel 4) on Genesis P-Orridge et al featured an unexpected guest – a certain Nicola Crane. Crane, the neo-Nazi who by a series of errors made the front cover of ‘Strength Thru Oi’, turned out to be one of the ‘stars’ of a Psychic TV video film. Let’s hope the media are as quick to condemn this obviously deliberate airing for Crane as they were with that accidental airing three years ago. (Sounds, 22nd September 1984)
…to the gold lame flounce of Morrissey, who, having replaced The Farm, was accorded the proverbial ‘mixed reaction’ for his trouble. But then, Morrissey has never been exactly the most blokeish of performers. (Andy Gill, 9th August 1992, The Independent)
Side Note 1: Nicky was on the gay scene from 1984, made gay porn films, attacked a benefit gig that had the Smiths on the bill & drank in a gay pub, The Bell, in Kings Cross that Morrissey also frequented. The video for Our Frank, directed by gay filmmaker John Maybury, used skinhead extras & was shot around Kings Cross.
Side Note 2: the NME’s claim they were just as hard on Eric Clapton, David Bowie & Elvis Costello is untrue. Eric sailed past the letter appealing to his better self into 1980s rock aristocracy while still supporting Enoch Powell. The worst it got for David Bowie was the NME faking the picture of a Nazi salute that became gossipy rocklore. And the NME refused to believe that Elvis Costello could mean it when he called James Brown a “jive-arsed n——” and Ray Charles a “blind, ignorant n——.”
Side Note 3: The Union Jack is ubiquitous in UK culture – at no point in our history has it ever been a clear signal of fascism or has it needed to be reclaimed from the far right, nevermind from Morrissey. Some on the hard left hate it as a symbol of the British Empire and the British State, it’s a minority opinion. Skinheads were a working-class subculture that spanned the political spectrum and listened to Reggae, Punk and their variants. They had widespread coverage in the press, including in the NME.
For some reason not explained The Guardian decided that The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils – a narrative song about a teacher being menaced by their pupils to the point they long to be ‘finished’ – is like a Daily Mail editorial set to music – and more ‘evidence’ that Morrissey is reactionary rather than ‘right on’.
And the song is in no way polemical – it’s a psychological horror, much like Term of Trial, Unman, Wittering and Zigo or Absolution.
There’s too many people Planning your downfall When your spirit’s on trial These nights can be frightening Sleep transports sadness To some other mid-brain And somebody here Will not be here next year So you stand by the board Full of fear and intention And, if you think that they’re listening Well, you’ve got to be joking Oh, you understand change And you think it’s essential But when your profession Is humiliation Say the wrong word to our children… We’ll have you, oh yes, we’ll have you Lay a hand on our children And it’s never too late to have you Mucus on your collar A nail up through the staff chair A blade in your soap And you cry into your pillow To be finished would be a relief To be finished would be a relief To be finished would be a relief To be finished would be a relief To be finished would be a relief To be finished would be a relief Say the wrong word to our children… We’ll have you, oh yes, we’ll have you Lay a hand on our children And it’s never too late to have you To be finished would be a relief To be finished would be a relief To be finished would be a relief To be finished would be a relief To be finished would be a relief To be finished would be a relief
I’m very glad the spring has come The sun shines out so bright All the birds that are on the trees Are singing for delight
At a concert in Toronto on April 26th 2019 Morrissey said on stage:
I’m a very cosmopolitan person. I’m a Christian. I’m very well travelled. I’ve heard of Faith Goldy. (Audience boos) What? I said I’ve HEARD of her!
He later dedicated a song to Marrisa Shen, a child who may have been murdered by a Syrian refugee (the case is yet to come to trial).
His comments were interpreted as anti-immigrant.
But as Faith had recently exploited the murder of Marrisa in a failed bid to become Mayor of Toronto, and as Morrissey had recently come to believe that the press, the police and the state were ignoring crimes committed by ethnic minorities because it didn’t fit their ideological narrative while smearing anyone as a racist who wanted crimes to be fairly investigated – it was very likely something to do with that.
London is second only to Bangladesh for acid attacks. All of the attacks are non-white, and so they cannot be truthfully addressed by the British government or the Met Police or the BBC because of political correctness. What this means is that the perpetrator is considered to be as much of a victim as the actual victim. We live in the Age of Atrocity. (Morrissey, Central, April 2018)
And his suspicion was backed up by a review of his concert in which the reviewer lamented that he hadn’t highlighted a crime where immigrants were the victims rather than a perpetrator – as if the point of talking about crime isn’t to get justice, but to police public opinion.
Later, Morrissey dedicated a song to Marrissa Shen, a 13-year-old girl from British Columbia whose accused murderer is a Canadian resident of Syrian descent. The homicide trial has become common fodder for anti-immigration sentiment in Canada. Instead of a seemingly random reference, it felt like a harsh reminder of so many of Morrissey’s troubling political statements. Why not take the opportunity, for instance, to acknowledge the Bruce McArthur case, wherein the victims were largely immigrants?
It’s doubtful Morrissey knew much about Faith Goldy.
While he was refusing to appear on Jimmy Kimmel with Duck Dynasty because they kill animals, she was defending their right to hunt and be homophobic (Sun News Network, December 2013), while he was denouncing Donald Trump for not comforting the gay community in the wake of the Orlando massacre, she was was disgusted by gay sex and blaming the gay community for being against guns and homophobia (Rebel News video, June 17th 2016)
In 2013, in an interview with Loaded, Morrissey said:
I nearly voted for UKIP. I like Nigel Farage a great deal. His views are quite logical – especially where Europe is concerned, although it was plain daft of him to applaud the lavish Royal Wedding at a time when working-class England were told to cut-back, shut-up and get stuffed.
In 2016, in an interview with news.com he said:
News.Com: The reports of you running for the Mayor of London with the Animal Welfare Party. Fact or fiction?
Morrissey:Fact, although I could see the pointlessness of stepping in. The BBC now do not give you news, but they give you their opinion, and therefore they give anyone a very hard time if that person does not suit the convenience and prejudices of the established elite. Therefore liberal educators such as George Galloway and Nigel Farage are loathed by the BBC because both men respect equal freedom for all people, and they are not remotely intimidated by the BBC.
In an interview on Morrissey Central, April 2018, he said:
UKIP is dead, and Nigel Farage aided their downfall by supporting Henry Bolton.
And in another interview on Morrissey Central, given in April 2019 but published in June 2019, he said:
Sam: Can we just sort out your political position because I’m sick of reading about how you’ve had a ‘controversial outburst’ when I know that you aren’t seen anywhere and you don’t ever speak to anyone. I’ve known you for 35 years and I’ve never heard you outburst. Are you actually a supporter of UKIP?
Morrissey: No. Never.
Sam: Of Nigel Farage?
Morrissey: No, no, no … but it’s obvious that he would make a good Prime Minister … if any of us can actually remember what a good Prime Minister is.
Despite carping about Nigel twice, mentioning him in the same sentence as hard left pro-Islam politician, George Galloway, and clearly stating that he was never a supporter of UKIP or Nigel Farage, every outlet decided to go with the ‘good Prime Minister’ comment, though coming from Morrissey that’s like being called a good serial killer.
The perception that Morrissey is a dedicated Nigel fan and Brexiteer (he didn’t vote or campaign) is so strong that his ex bandmate used it to kick him in the teeth and Cold War Steve included him in a collage with Tory politicians (he hates the Tories) who are (obviously) regularly in the media (Morrissey never speaks to the press, isn’t on social media, and outside of his own gigs is rarely at any public event).
Detractors will also cite:
Tommy Robinson (mentioned in one sentence)
Marine Le Pen (One Facebook post, and a follow up post trying to explain the first post)
A Far Right Party – his support of For Britain and Anne Marie Waters – however misguided, he did believe she was campaigning for animals, women, children and the law to be fairly applied.
and Britain First – who he has never supported or mentioned.
What tends to get memoryholed or deemed irrelevant is his dislike of Margaret Thatcher, George W. Bush, Tony Blair (over Iraq), Donald Trump, and Royalty.
Or his positive statements about left-wingers like Clare Short, Tony Benn, George Galloway, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders.
Or that he accused the Queen of white supremacy because Prince’s veganism didn’t get press coverage.
Or that he was a fan of vegan and civil rights activist Dick Gregory.
Or that – just before the 2017 General Election – he thought left-wing Jeremy Corbyn would be a better Prime Minister than right-wing Theresa May.
Morrissey is often accused of singling-out Sadiq Khan and Diane Abbott because of their skin colour, by people who have singled out Sadiq Khan and Diane Abbott because of their skin colour.
His jokes and complaints are framed as ‘dog whistles’ – although it’s never explained why someone who is denounced as a racist ‘Bigmouth’ on a regular basis would need to secretly signal to racist voters.
He made his comments about Khan and Abbott in an interview on Central published on April 16th 2018 in which he was also scathing about:
The press, journalists, The Guardian, Spin Magazine, the EU, the British Political Elite, politics, himself, The Smiths, Viva Hate, Kill Uncle, The Times, the music industry, the Laughing Gnome, the NME, the loony left, Hitler, UKIP, Nigel Farage, Henry Bolton, Theresa May, Eid Al-Adar festive slaughter, the Conservatives, Labour, FGM, Halal slaughter, child marriage, ISIS, UK law, milk, eggs, religion, Kosher slaughter, stunned slaughter, humane slaughter, slaughter, television, animal death commercials, the BBC, Channel 4 News, people who hate him, his voice in the Smiths, the tabloids, his career, his health, iPhone pictures, Der Spiegel, the cover artwork for Low In High School, Kill Uncle, Southpaw Grammar & Maladjusted, the house of Windsor, Princess Anne, meat-eating, bullfighting, Spain, murder, London, civilisation, acid attacks, the British Government, the Met Police, political correctness, our age of atrocity, interviews, Jo Coburn, Cathy Newman and England.
And he was dismissing the whole of politics while explaining why he didn’t vote for Brexit:
JOHN: Did you actually vote to leave?
MORRISSEY: No, I haven’t ever voted. I don’t have sufficient faith in the circus of politics … and … you can see why! It is a moral disaster on every level. Even Tesco wouldn’t employ Diane Abbott.
Later, in response to a question about violence in London, Morrissey took a swipe at the Mayor of London’s diction. As he went on to starkly mention crimes being ignored by the state because they were committed by non-white people, it’s ludicrous to suggest he was using code or that his problem with Khan was about his heritage:
JOHN: London has become a murder capital recently.
MORRISSEY: London is debased. The Mayor of London tells us about ”Neighborhood policin ” – what is ‘policin’? He tells us London is an ”amazin ” city. What is ‘amazin’? This is the Mayor of London! And he cannot talk properly! I saw an interview where he was discussing mental health, and he repeatedly said ”men’el ” … he could not say the words ‘mental health’. The Mayor of London! Civilisation is over!
JOHN: But why do you think so many people are being killed in London?
MORRISSEY: London is second only to Bangladesh for acid attacks. All of the attacks are non-white, and so they cannot be truthfully addressed by the British government or the Met Police or the BBC because of political correctness. What this means is that the perpetrator is considered to be as much of a victim as the actual victim. We live in the Age of Atrocity.
Morrissey may be hyperbolic and insensitive to social mores around speech, but his underlying point is valid and has been made more soberly by other left-wing voices. Very often the state will enable injustice because of ideology or because the issue isn’t fashionable.
He’d used the phrase the age of atrocity before – to signal his distress at the amount of violent imagery in the media/social media.
It’s very difficult for me, I think, to live now, in this electronic age of atrocity. We are fed nothing but carnage and ruin, and we must digest these images and thoughts every single day … so is it any wonder we all look slightly terrorised … this stupid civilization of advertising, advertising, advertising … things that nobody wants. It’s hard to maintain indifference and to not respond. Finally, nothing connects with anything. Even to have imagination suddenly seems hopeless because pop music has become so impoverished and obsessed only with very, very stupid people. It’s fascinating to consider how Radio One once interviewed William Burroughs! These days the program planners at Radio One would pass on William Burroughs in favor of Little Boots. So it’s a bit like trying to deal with people who have nothing but actually want even less than they have. Therefore I look at Richard Davalos and James Dean not as faces from a more simplistic time, but as faces of a beautiful and secret society. You cannot say that about anyone in 2016. (Morrissey, True To You, 18th March 2016)
It’s very likely that his ‘outbursts’ since 2017 have been his way of coping with that distress – and the rush to obliterate him for racism – when he clearly blames powerful people (the media, politicians, Royals) for the violence that’s tormenting him – will look intensely cruel.
In the Melody Maker, November 1984, Morrissey said:
The sorrow of the Brighton Bomb is that she (the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher) escaped unscathed. The sorrow is that she’s still alive. But I feel relatively happy about it. I think that for once the IRA were accurate in selecting their targets… They want us to believe that such attacks can only work in the government’s favour but I believe that’s utter nonsense. Immediately after the event Maggie was on television attacking the use of bombs – the very person who absolutely believes in the power of bombs. She’s the one who insists that they’re the only method of communication in world politics. All the grand dame gestures about about these awful terrorist bombs is absolute theatre.
He’s mostly annoyed that Thatcher was on television denouncing her own methods and the implication is that the IRA usually pick their targets badly, but the first sentence (usually the only one quoted) was enough to have him denounced as a terrorist sympathiser. The Smiths received death threats from Loyalist paramilitaries, the Irish Government insisted they play a scheduled Irish tour, and the IRA, not fussed about the ‘for once’, took it as a compliment.
In a statement on True To You, 9th April 2013, he said:
The difficulty with giving a comment on Margaret Thatcher’s death to the British tabloids is that, no matter how calmly and measuredly you speak, the comment must be reported as an “outburst” or an “explosive attack” if your view is not pro-establishment. If you reference “the Malvinas”, it will be switched to “the Falklands”, and your “Thatcher” will be softened to a “Maggie.” This is generally how things are structured in a non-democratic society. Thatcher’s name must be protected not because of all the wrong that she had done, but because the people around her allowed her to do it, and therefore any criticism of Thatcher throws a dangerously absurd light on the entire machinery of British politics. Thatcher was not a strong or formidable leader. She simply did not give a shit about people, and this coarseness has been neatly transformed into bravery by the British press who are attempting to re-write history in order to protect patriotism. As a result, any opposing view is stifled or ridiculed, whereas we must all endure the obligatory praise for Thatcher from David Cameron without any suggestion from the BBC that his praise just might be an outburst of pro-Thatcher extremism from someone whose praise might possibly protect his own current interests. The fact that Thatcher ignited the British public into street-riots, violent demonstrations and a social disorder previously unseen in British history is completely ignored by David Cameron in 2013. In truth, of course, no British politician has ever been more despised by the British people than Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher’s funeral on Wednesday will be heavily policed for fear that the British tax-payer will want to finally express their view of Thatcher. They are certain to be tear-gassed out of sight by the police. United Kingdom? Syria? China? What’s the difference?
No one in the press has so far tried to explain why they believe he was an IRA supporter and a National Front supporter at the same time.
On a side note – The Guardian had to apologise for employing an IRA supporter who used his platform to smear a rape survivor.
And on an even sider side note – in a weird quirk of fate – Scottish comedian Limmy, who called his Uncles ‘Orange Bastards’ and whose brother was jailed for anti-Irish sectarian racism, could drag Morrissey for British Nationalism.
Neil Gaiman took the opportunity to suck up to the television industry as if he’d be thrilled by an episode that condemned him for potentially murdering the people of Skye because he was too dim to read the Covid rules:
Not that they would target Neil with anything that would hurt or exclude him, because whatever his personal issues, he does marketing, networking, online engagement, works with a vast number of people & might be able to shaft your career. Things Morrissey can’t do, due to shyness, anxiety, depression, dysmorphia, and/or clear-eyed horror at its fakeness.
The show probably took its character arc from a hit piece in The LA Times, based on hit pieces in the British press. There’s an accumulating list of misquotes and misinterpretations and every article will pick at least three, along with UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN labels like xenophobe, racist, far right, right-wing, British nationalist, British nativist, controversial, reactionary, toxic, anti-immigrant, hard to love, dead to me, or HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED.
Nearly everything about him gets edited out & the rest is conflated, hyped & chanted.
For a start, he is an immigrant, not to the USA, but to England:
… my sister and I growing up, never really felt we were Mancunians. My Irishness was never something I hid or camouflaged. I grew up in a strong Irish community. Of course, early on I’d be teased about it, I was called `Paddy’ from an early age. I mean, there I was, born, braised and bred in Manchester but I was still always called `Paddy’. And this was back in the 1960s when it was a bitter and malevolent slur. But that’s how Manchester people are – they’re extremely critical of everything and everybody. (Morrissey, November 1999, Irish Times)
His current band, that no one ever talks about because they’re too busy pining for the all-white one, has immigrants:
I remember seeing you in a Chivas USA shirt. You have a strong association with Mexico. How do you think their people are treated in America? Oh, like kings! No, sorry, that was a joke. My guitarist Jesse, who’s been with me for 10 years, is Mexican. One night in Los Angeles the police approached us, spoke reasonably civilly to me, and then said to him “which restaurant do you work at?” I think that sums it up! One of the greatest guitarists of the modern age, but because his skin is brown it’s assumed he washes dishes for a living. He will one day, of course… (Morrissey, August 2014, Hot Press)
He’s mentioned immigration in general only a few times in his career, and he’s never attacked people, or demanded that immigration be lowered, stopped or reversed. What he frets about is the tensions inherent in identity. Who we are, why we are, can we kick against it, can we get along? Always on the side of the less powerful, although in his eagerness to attack government policy, he can forget the social norm of expressing pity for its victims while doing absolutely nothing genuinely helpful. He laments that culture is becoming generic esp in music. And he rails against tyranny and injustice; we need structure to make our lives function, but it can also oppress and brutalise us:
The infantile panic with which American immigration officials shout loudly and humiliate gleefully is designed to exert strength, yet it trumpets cowardice and it fouls notions of patriotism… The US government proudly boasted Zero Tolerance and implemented the scheme with zero intelligence. (Morrissey, 2013, Autobiography)
But his overwhelming concern is the meat industry:
The fact that the slaughterhouse or abattoir exists is the most obvious example of human evil. The slaughterhouse is the dead end for humanity, and as long as it exists we can’t possibly have any hope for the human race. If you’ve seen abattoir footage then you cannot possibly think that humans are anything other than evil pests…
He has always felt his opposition to the meat industry is opposed by power:
… If your views threaten any form of establishment interests, you are usually ignored or silenced or said to be ‘ranting, I have never ranted in my life. (Morrissey, June 2015, The Huffington Post)
And he clearly believed fringe crank, Anne Marie Waters, founder of For Britain, when she said she was being smeared as a racist and a fascist because she was talking about sensitive issues to do with veganism, secularism, animal rights, feminism, and gay rights. And that somehow she would stop the violence and polarization that was driving politics in the 2010s as social media funneled us into warring silos:
I despise racism.I despise fascism. I would do anything for my Muslim friends, and I know they would do anything for me. (Morrissey, April 2018, Central)
Yes, he could have been more savvy, she is entirely a product of polarisation, but she’s essentially an unelectable YouTuber. At the time of writing (April 2021) he last mentioned her two years ago in April 2019, and he first and last wore the badge of her ‘party’ (which he apparently didn’t join or vote for) in May 2019.
The timing of the show was cynical.
The Simpsons had been called out for using racial stereotypes and discriminatory casting.
And for some grotesque reason a high profile television show decided to improve its image by taking pains – stars, songs, extras – to punch down at a low profile Indie singer. Which would have made a better plot.
To cap it The Sunday Times editorial, 25th April 2021, made it clear we hate it when our stars don’t give exclusive interviews:
Britpop was a 1990s musical style that favoured an ‘ironic’ or flattened version of working-class British life inspired by the 1960s – booze, birds and ‘having a good time’.
There is a myth that the movement had to save Union Jack iconography from Morrissey’s fascism.
To recap – in August 1992 Morrissey played 1 of 2 gigs at Finsbury Park, London with the band Madness, who allegedly had a strong skinhead following. While singing Glamorous Glue, Morrissey thrashed the Union Jack around the stage as the crowd reportedly yelled homophobic slurs at him and threw missiles. He refused to play the second gig. The NME interpreted this as Morrissey being racist.
In contrast, The Rolling Stones hired Hell’s Angels to be security at their gig in Altamont, San Francisco in 1969. While they were singing Sympathy For The Devil, a fight broke out and the Hell’s Angels stabbed to death an 18 year old black audience member, Meredith Hunter. This was interpreted by everyone as ‘the end of the 1960s’.
The Union Jack had always been used extensively in UK pop promotion.
In 1990 New Order released a song for the World Cup with the English football team. Its chant ‘En-ger-land’! became popular without any agonising about it encouraging England’s underbelly of football hooliganism and racism.
The 90s would see two more hit football anthems, Three Lions (Football’s coming home) by Baddiel, Skinner and The Lightning Seeds, and Vindaloo by Fat Les (We’re England, We’re gonna score one more than you, England!).
Sentimental longing or arrogant bragging, both songs were celebrations of fandom.
Morrissey’s football song – from Your Arsenal, the same album as The National Front Disco – was ‘We’ll Let You Know’ – sinister, mournful, violent – it was anything but a celebration.
How sad are we? And how sad have we been? We’ll let you know We’ll let you know Oh, but only if you’re really interested
You wonder how We’ve stayed alive ’til now We’ll let you know We’ll let you know But only if you’re really interested
We’re all smiles Then, honest, I swear, it’s the turnstiles That make us hostile Oh-wah, oh-wah, oh-wah, oh-wah, oh-wah
We will descend On anyone unable to defend Themselves Oh-wah, oh-wah, oh-wah, oh-wah, oh-wah
And the songs we sing They’re not supposed to mean a thing La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la La-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la-la La-la-la-la
We may seem cold Or we may even be the most depressing people you’ve ever known At heart, what’s left, we sadly know That we are the last truly British people you’ve ever known We are the last truly British people you will ever know You’ll ever, never, want to know
Morrissey was excluded from Britpop not because he was the dark side, but because he reminded them that the dark side existed when they wanted to use the fig leaf of irony to enjoy the pride and thrill of being loutish, lustful and national.
I crave extremes. I want to be THAT famous, or THAT known. The only reason I’m in this is to make great rock’n’roll records, for the hell of it, and I’m concerned that everybody thinks I’m this politically correct, right-onwoman. (Louise Wener, January 1995, Melody Maker)
We are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they pay their taxes. (Peter Mandelson, New Labour strategist, October 1998, Financial Times)
On the 4th of March 2012 Morrissey played a concert in Argentina in which his band wore ‘I hate William and Kate’ t-shirts and he said this about British colony, the Falkland Islands, then a source of renewed tension between Argentina and the UK (the nations had been to war over it in 1982):
You know of course the Malvinas Islands, everybody knows they belong to Argentina so please do not blame the British people, we know the islands belong to you… The government, the governments, never listen to the people, to their pain.
To be a national treasure you have to be likable. Is Morrissey likable any more? I’m almost loth to say that he isn’t, because to do so would be to play into the persecution complex he has been nurturing for the best part of his solo career. Even when he makes pronouncements that, broadly speaking, I agree with, there’s something about the way he makes them that makes me recoil. I’m not a royalist, but pictures of his band lined up either side of him on his recent Argentinian tour, wearing “We hate William and Kate” T-shirts, momentarily made me feel like becoming one. (Pete Paphides, music writer, The Guardian, March 2012)
Later that year he was appalled by the jingoism of the London Olympics, the winning bid being tendered by Boris Johnson, then London mayor, now (2021) the UK’s Prime Minister.
“I am unable to watch the Olympics due to the blustering jingoism that drenches the event. Has England ever been quite so foul with patriotism? The ‘dazzling royals’ have, quite naturally, hi-jacked the Olympics for their own empirical needs, and no oppositional voice is allowed in the free press. It is lethal to witness. As London is suddenly promoted as a super-wealth brand, the England outside London shivers beneath cutbacks, tight circumstances and economic disasters. Meanwhile the British media present 24-hour coverage of the ‘dazzling royals’, laughing as they lavishly spend, as if such coverage is certain to make British society feel fully whole. In 2012, the British public is evidently assumed to be undersized pygmies, scarcely able to formulate thought. As I recently drove through Greece I noticed repeated graffiti seemingly everywhere on every available wall. In large blue letters it said WAKE UP WAKE UP. It could almost have been written with the British public in mind, because although the spirit of 1939 Germany now pervades throughout media-brand Britain, the 2013 grotesque inevitability of Lord and Lady Beckham (with Sir Jamie Horrible close at heel) is, believe me, a fate worse than life. WAKE UP WAKE UP.” (Morrissey, August 2012, TrueToYou.Net).
Again it led to a wave of flack in the British press.
The Guardian wrote:
Far from providing a focus of national unity and good cheer, Morrissey, says the Olympics have created a situation in which “the spirit of 1939 Germany now pervades throughout media-brand Britain”.
As ever, he was also misquoted and paraphrased, this time to make him sound like a killjoy racist for NOT flag-waving.
Then in 2021 after Harry and Meghan gave an interview to Oprah Winfrey where they accused the UK press and the Royal Family of racism and after the Black Lives Matter protests had led to calls for a reckoning with the UK’s colonial past, some of the same people who took potshots at him in 2012 changed their tune – about royals and patriotism, not Morrissey, who they now believe is an unspeakable British Nationalist.
Here Piers Morgan is referring to his Olympic remarks:
A former colleague who did shifts on the newsdesk there in the 1990s recalls that there was a blacklist of people about whom the paper would not run stories, no matter how good the tale. Top of this list were foreigners and “lowlifes” – who included “anyone with a non-English name, Irish and the entire working class, unless a yuppie plumber”. There were no page leads about black people because page leads had to have an accompanying photograph and “photographers couldn’t take pictures of black people because you couldn’t see their features”.
Meanwhile, over at The Sun (and the News of the World) there was a dread of “poofs” and “queers”, from the “gay plague” and “despicable” gay kiss in “EastBenders” of the 1980s to the “gay mafia” running the country in the late 1990s – when it demanded that all homosexual MPs be outed, explaining: “Their sexuality is not the problem. The worry is their membership of a closed world of men with a mutual self-interest.” (Liz Gerard, March 2021, Press Gazette)