Failed Magic Weirdo

I remember who and what you used to be. You were like the village idiot, the odd one out, the backward boy. (Blitz, about Morrissey, April 1988)

The monstering of Morrissey is driven by homophobia, ableism, and Irish Catholic erasure. He doesn’t behave in a normative way. His train of thought isn’t running down the usual tracks. And that’s intolerable.

They parse his words for violations, conflate them, and turn them into a narrative that paints him as a feral bigot who once tricked them into believing he was gentle and kind.

They pretend they liked his difference, while his press cuttings are littered with their angst about his ‘ambivalence’, the uncanny no man’s land he dwelled in between male and female, gay and straight, Irish and English, Catholic and atheist, sane and mad, provincial and national, public and private, frank and coy, animal and human, rich and poor, happy and sad, kind and scathing, alive and dead, innocent and guilty.

How horribly wrong we were. From the mid-1980s onwards, his utterances have been consistently rabid...  It’s always hard to admit you fell for the wrong fella, that his poetry blinded you to his prejudices, that you were well and truly suckered. And that’s what we’re having to do now... For so long we Morrissey fans gave him the benefit of the doubt – surely a man is entitled to not like reggae and soul music, we’d squirm. Even now, we like to believe it is simply Morrissey who has changed. And that is true to an extent. But the warning signs were always there. (The Guardian, June, 2018)

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. (The Guardian, March, 2012)

I’ve got vintage psychedelic vinyl by actual murderers, and books of poetry by antisemites and paedophiles, who are hard to write out of literary history. And the increasingly reactionary comments made by Mark E Smith in his latter years will not tempt me to part with even the most unnecessary Fall compilation. But somehow, illogically and sentimentally, I held Morrissey to different standards… Suddenly, I just didn’t want Morrissey in my home any more. And I couldn’t imagine any circumstances under which I would ever listen to him again. (Stewart Lee, The Guardian, July 2018)

He knows his diehards will continue to buy his records and sell out his shows, so he gleefully goes on — sorry, Morrissey has never done anything gleefully. He stodgily goes on, sowing discord and making deliberately inflammatory statements. (Boston Herald, December 2017)

The purity of The Smiths has to severed from the pollution of Morrissey.

‘The Smiths? There’s more blackness in the music than you might initially perceive. Read about it. Search it out. And then boycott Morrissey’s music because he’s turned into your horrible racist grandfather. Seriously, stop apologising for the guy and stop listening to his recent music. He’s an embarrassment. (Tony Fletcher, 2020)

I wish there was a way back for him. As a Smith’s fan and as an anti-racist activist, I wish. I worry that he may have burned too many bridges, though. I think he’s decided that he wants to betray everything he ever said in the Smiths, and he’s broken the hearts of a lot of people… I’ll listen to The Smiths, but I was never into [his solo stuff] anyway.” (Billy Bragg, NME, February, 2020)

Ultimately, you can’t help feeling that not only did Morrissey need Johnny Marr to achieve greatness, but the guitarist was also a restraining and civilising influence on his songwriting partner. (Medium, 2019)

The Mexican POC members of Morrissey’s current band and their Latin American sound are whitewashed, in an article that flags up that the writer is in a heterosexual relationship. His boss is casual about some slurs – ‘there would be some people back home who would call me a puff or whatever for stopping… Are you some kind of shirt lifter?” (John Doran, Drowned In Sound, June 2016)

My girlfriend however, well she’s a huge fan. A quick Google search later and there’s some sputtering…. how could the man who saved the lonely girl from Hull have become this... From its cheap-sounding production to the trebly, shallow musicianship (read: white-ish), to the basic structuring and the crowd samples that sound like fiendish Leave activists at Westminster, to the aesthetically stinking addition of those medieval trumpets of old Albion, this is the crappy Britain of old he conjures. (John Calvert, The Quietus, March 2020)

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.’ (Morrissey, 2014)

Once he was unpersoned, his looks, age, sexuality, gender identity, clothes, social isolation, & mental health struggles became fair game.

Morrissey isn’t senile, he’s always been a racist. (Mangal Media/Freedom Magazine, August 2019).

his allegiances can no longer be assumed to lie with the marginalised. Perhaps they never could, and the real shock is not one of Morrissey’s betrayal but of our own (my own) self-deception… One of us has to grow up, I suppose, but that still doesn’t mean I know what to do about monsters either. (Ben Brooker, Overland Review, November 2017)

Then there’s their Irishness and the punk moment. Shane was immensely inspired by John Lydon. The Irish thing cannot be overlooked, as they were crucial to English pop music. John Lennon, Billy Fury, if we can still mention his name, Morrissey. There’s a great deal of Irish presence in English music. What’s different about MacGowan is that he made a real point of being Irish. (Julian Temple, Flood Magazine, December 2020)

He’s worse than anyone.

Bryan Ferry, David Bowie, Joy Division, Lemmy, Siouxie Sioux… bit of Nazi trouble.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2007/apr/16/news.joydivision

Eric Clapton had a bizarre racist period.

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/film/eric-clapton-opens-up-even-on-his-bizarre-racist-period-1.3327327

Elvis Costello was drunk… After 2AM he described James Brown as a “jive-arsed n——” and Ray Charles as a “blind, ignorant n——.”

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/elvis-costello-racist-remarks/

The Cure killed an Arab – but literature.

https://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/music/censor-87.php

Mark E Smith was ‘far too complex or intelligent to be a mere ogre‘.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jan/24/mark-e-smith-the-fall

John Lydon racially assaulting a black singer, supporting Trump and Farage, and hating left-wingers, is complex.

https://theoutline.com/post/1315/johnny-rotten-would-hate-john-lydon

Only right-wingers objected to Marilyn Manson… ‘I have fantasies every day about smashing her skull in with a sledgehammer.’ (Spin, 2009) … nobody even batted an eyelash at these overt admissions of violence.… (Glamour, March 2018)

https://www.glamour.com/story/why-is-nobody-talking-about-marilyn-mansons-fantasy-of-killing-evan-rachel-wood

1997/98 Trent Reznor hates political correctness and didn’t have to deny that he sexually assaulted an unconscious woman.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/feb/04/trent-reznor-sexual-assault-story-marilyn-manson-memoir-fabrication

But Morrissey:

John forgives everyone their real and imagined racist transgressions – except Morrissey.

https://thequietus.com/articles/27427-hex-enduction-hour-the-classical-the-fall-racist

The lyrics in The Classical – by The Fall – which are clearly not racist…

Where are the obligatory n*ggers?
Hey there fuckface!

POC writers who could or do work for The Quietus agreed with its boss that it would be mad to think it was racist – Gabriel Ebulue said: I feel that as a black man liking music made mainly by white people it means I will have to wince every now and then at lyrics… not to mention whatever Morrissey says… ever.

They’ve come up with a myth that goes (almost literally) like this:

Once Upon A Time in the 1970s he was a skinhead punk and he said he didn’t like Pakistanis. No ambiguity there, Sunshine. He joined The Smiths, stole his lyrics from Shelagh Delaney, demanded black people be hanged, sapped the will of reggae-loving Indie kids with miserable, reactionary, white nostalgia, and when Decent Bloke Johnny Marr could take no more, Moz joined Skrewdriver, and organised Combat 18 behind a veneer of irony and animal rights activism, until Emboldened by Brexit, he came out as a neo-nazi by showing his third nipple and saying Diane Abbott wouldn’t get a job in Tesco. He’s symbolic of everything evil in the English Working-Class that threatens to drag England back from Bright Thrusting Imperial Modernity to ethnic peasantry, like the poor people one signs petitions for.

as a child of immigrant parents, he should know better than to attack immigration. For his waving of the flag (for publicity too, it would seem), for his ingrained habit of paying lip service to anti-racism while talking like an old Tory immigration spokesman, and for his abandonment of everything that made The Smiths a band for outsiders, Morrissey should be ashamed of himself, but he won’t be” (David Quantick, The Word, 2007)