In July 2011 Morrissey was playing a gig in Warsaw and introduced Meat Is Murder by saying:
“Despite the love, we do live on a murderous planet, as you will have seen over the last few days in Norway, murder, murder, murder. Really every single day worse things happen in Kentucky Fried Chicken & McDonald’s, murder, murder, murder, murder, murder, murder.”
Animal liberationists believe that animal and human life are equal.
He wasn’t saying that the murders in Norway are less important – he was saying that we’re not seeing that animals are slaughtered in great numbers everyday as he was about to show a gruesome film of animals dying in extreme pain and fear.
He’s consistently linked his suicidal depression to a documentary on abattoirs that he saw when he was a child.
“When I was young I saw a documentary accidentally about the abattoir and I fell into an almost lifelong depression. I couldn’t believe I lived in a society that allowed this.” (The Times, November 2017)
He’s hyper-aware of the treatment of animals – things like:
Very few people are animal liberationists but to misrepresent his philosophical position & ignore his mental health to create a drama that would hurt the parents of murder victims is pretty poor even by the standards of the news industry.
The Daily Mirror broke the ‘story’ paraphrasing it to make it sound worse. There was a storm on social media, other papers picked up the clickbait.
He tried to explain:
“The comment I made on stage at Warsaw could be further explained this way: Millions of beings are routinely murdered every single day in order to fund profits for McDonalds and KFCruelty, but because these murders are protected by laws, we are asked to feel indifferent about the killings, and to not even question them. If you quite rightly feel horrified at the Norway killings, then it surely naturally follows that you feel horror at the murder of ANY innocent being. You cannot ignore animal suffering simply because animals ‘are not us.” (True To You, July 2011)
It made no difference.
It’s returned in numerous lists of his word crimes.
It returned in a Guardian ‘comedy’ article that crassly ignored his history of mental illness to lump it in with some comments he made about the suicide of a nurse who gave confidential information about The Duchess of Cambridge to Australian radio DJs.
“a man who could once rightly claim to be a genius reduced to being rock music’s answer to an internet troll, flaming away then whining on about free speech and how there’s a vast conspiracy against him when anyone picks him up on it. It points to the way he brilliantly put the 2011 Norway terrorist attacks into perspective as “nothing compared to what happens in McDonald’s every day” – a rightwing Islamophobe extremist murdering 77 people because he hated multiculturalism being entirely analogous to eating a sweet chilli crispy chicken wrap – and asks: does that even remotely resemble the kind of thing a moron would write in the comments section of a website?”
On a side note – it’s The Guardian turning into the internet troll. And using a massacre in a wisecrack aimed at a ‘moron’ Indie singer is less edifying than mentioning it before a song against cruelty.
It’s esp. unedifying when there’s always been an indication that Morrissey’s melancholy is linked to the media. Becoming obsessive about things that are given a huge amount of coverage, like the Royals. On The Queen Is Dead:
“I didn’t want to attack the Monarchy in any beer monster way. But I find as time goes by this happiness we had slowly slips away and is replaced by something that is wholly grey and wholly saddening. The very idea of the Monarchy and the Queen of England is being reinforced and made to seem more useful than it is… But I do feel in an absolute way I’ve been sleepwalking for 26 years. On the bleak moments when I come to consciousness I was reading The New Statesman. You see I never did all those trivial pursuits. I did read all those music magazines.” (NME, June, 1986)
And his remarks about the Dutchess were not a conspiracy theory… it was just gossip that had been flying around combined with his belief that the Royals use PR to stay popular – which is true.
“It wasn’t because of two DJs in Australia that this woman took her own life, it was the pressure around her… [Kate Middleton] she was in the hospital, as far as I could see, for absolutely no reason… she’s saying nothing about the death of this poor woman. The arrogance of the British royals is absolutely staggering.” (December, 2012)
He also resents that the Royals are born or marry into publicity while he feels art is neglected. In April 2011, after an awkward interview on Radio 2 he said:
“I’m sorry I made the O’Leary radio interview so difficult but I was in a foul mood, having spent a full week surrounded by the royal dreading. England may very well be a Windsor dictatorship, but – PR Weddings aside, it is usually quite bearable… During the week of the royal dreading, Poly Styrene died. Having made an enormous contribution to British art and sound – at a desperate time when so many of us needed her – Poly Styrene’s death was all but ignored by the British television news media, who instead rained hours and hours of blubbering praise onto Kate Middleton – a woman about whom nothing is known on a personal level. The message is clear: What you achieve in life means nothing compared to what you are born into. Is this Syria?”
& it returned when he was sang at The Nobel Peace Prize Concert in December 2013:
Reflecting on it:
“Do you write when you’re happy/sad/drunk/sober or a combination of all four?
I don’t say this for affect, but I’m never not sad… which is lovely grammar, I know…
How did appearing alongside the likes of Jake Bugg, Mary J. Blige, James Blunt and Claire Danes at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert rate in terms of surreal gigs?
I didn’t know it would be so stately and ceremonious. They were very courteous, but the local mayor fought to have me taken off the bill because he didn’t like my views on mass-murderers. There’s always something, I suppose.” (Hot Press, August 2014)
On another side note – this is why there’s conformity around death. Why everyone was a lovely person who made everyone happy. Why we send thoughts and prayers. Why no one can express their awkward or abject feelings. Because it’s easy to take shock, grief or fear and turn it into mob rage at someone who has said the socially unacceptable thing.
& Morrissey’s work is all about exploring unacceptable and unwanted feelings.