The idea that Morrissey is the evil Smith comes from the NME. Frustrated at the lack of Morrissey interviews & news in the wake of the Smiths split they fabricated a homophobic story smearing him as a racist after he was violently attacked at a gig.
It’s since the advent of Morrissey’s solo career, however, that misgivings about some of his chosen subject matter, lyrics, imagery and associations have begun to accelerate. (NME, August 1992)
And had been trying to launch Marr as the real Smiths star via standard rock mythology – guitars! cars! got the the girl! – supposedly reversing a situation in which Marr had been cast as the devil and Morrissey the saint by highlighting Marr’s manly virtue and Morrissey’s effeminate vice.
Before we start, one more thing needs making crystal clear; Johnny Marr is a Very Happy Man. And why not? At 27 years of age (27? Shocking, isn’t it?) he has it all sorted. A career on the very brink of new pinnacles; a blessed marriage to Angie; a collection of guitars vast enough to satisfy even as voracious an axe-freak as he; a car too big for most of the streets of his native Manchester; a studio/refuge in the depths of his home. Did I say ‘happy’? This, people, is the proverbial pig in shit… Best of all though, is Johnny Marr’s healthy relationship with his past. He has refused to let it haunt or hinder him. Nor is he cramped, like some, by an undue reverence for Morrissey. Indeed he (like all the Factory Mafia) now refers to his former soulmate as ‘Dorissey’ and has re-christened the limpid lad’s last 45 (Our Frank) as ‘Alf Wank’. (Danny Kelly, NME, April 1991)
But the vice-virtue polar opposites idea gains most of its momentum and malice after the NME rehashed their homophobic article in 2007, adding a smear that Morrissey is anti-immigrant while scolding him for being an immigrant.
Morrissey launched legal action, winning a case against Word magazine who had used the NME’s smears in a review in 2008, and winning against the NME in 2012.
The digs at Morrissey’s sexuality have stayed consistent.
For a band routinely dismissed as effete, the Smiths were always a surprisingly muscular rock’n’roll entity, whose musical heft created the liberty for the gladioli-thrashing freak at the front to carry on camping. Like the Rolling Stones with Quentin Crisp as lead singer. That dichotomy, however, comes with certain problems. There’s always been a laddish cult surrounding Johnny Marr. At school, it was the Dire Straits boys who couldn’t stand “that poof Morrissey” but grudgingly appreciated Marr’s guitars. Tonight, as he tours his solo album The Messenger, it’s the Huxleyan Epsilons who wear Pretty Green, grope your girlfriend, then get belligerent when you dare to confront them, and tell you that you belong at a different gig. (Simon Price, the Independent, March 2013)
It’s the lie that he’s racist and right-wing that’s crystallized, with Marr now the left-wing saviour of the Smiths, the only vaguely acceptable part of Morrissey’s perverted career.
In his 2013 review Price is misleading – though it’s hard to know if they believe it or not – Morrissey has never ‘implied Bengalis don’t belong here’, did not ‘complain there were too many blacks on Top of the Pops’ and has never ‘backed UKIP’.
None of this, of course, is Johnny Marr’s fault. Furthermore, Johnny Marr has never implied that Bengalis don’t “belong here”, complained that there are too many blacks on Top of the Pops, or backed Ukip, so, as ex-Smiths go, he’s still on the side of the angels… We’ve all seen what’s become of Morrissey, deprived of Marr. (Simon Price, the Independent, March 2013)
The Irish Times ascribes it to Morrissey’s indecent mouth in general.
Slowly and far more diligently, however, Marr has come to represent the polar opposite of Morrissey – less relentless barbed and tired wit, more common decency. (Tony Clayton-Lea, the Irish Times, Novovember 2016)
Price was also briefing other journalists against him – which came to light when Morrissey thought gay vegan, Anne Marie Waters, who set up For Britain, was being smeared as a racist in the way he was smeared as a racist for his sexuality.
The “outright party political broadcasts for actual fascists” is this:
I despise racism.
I despise fascism.
I would do anything for my Muslim friends and I know they would do anything for me… do not be influenced by the tyrannies of the MSM who will tell you that For Britain are racist or fascist – please believe me,
they are the very opposite… This is my last political strike. No wish to upset anyone! (Morrissey, Central, April 2018)
There’s acres of examples of Morrissey’s words and motivations being hyped, twisted, conflated, the repetition of misleading selective quotes, and guilt by association.
For instance, he has never mentioned or supported burqa bans, forced deportations, benefit cuts or anything except animal rights, ending violence, and equality before the law; ‘bulldog breed…” is singled out to pretend he’s a British nationalist.
All of it culminating in Smiths fans needing Marr’s permission get past Morrissey’s taint.
Q – Morrissey’s recent political views have cast a shadow over the Smiths for me – reaching back into the past and tainting something that was very important to me. I’m so disappointed in him. Has it impacted how you feel about the Smiths or are you able to separate the past from the present, the band from the man? I find it very difficult to do so.
Johnny Spence, Northern Ireland
A – It hasn’t impacted how I feel about the Smiths. That’s all I can say about that. I’m certainly able to separate the past from the present. I don’t know whether you can separate the band from the man, but I can separate myself from the man and what I did, so when I do see how disappointed people are, it really does make me sad… I don’t have any answers. And I don’t want to have any answers. Q – I was at Glastonbury in 2019 when you played There Is a Light That Never Goes Out at the end of your set. Without wanting to sound too gushy and obsessive, men and women in their 40s and 50s were openly crying, I guess because it felt like you were giving us permission to love these songs again. What is going through your head when you perform these songs? Do you feel any sadness or regret, or do you feel that you are claiming them fresh, as yours?
Lindsay Wright, London
A – I’ve been asked about claiming the Smiths songs quite a lot before and I’m not doing that… I don’t think I need to claim anything, because I wrote them.
(Johnny Marr, Q & A, the Observer, February 2022)
On a side note: there’s an infinite list of things heterosexual male rock stars can say/write and get a generous interpretation, while Morrissey – an Irish Catholic 2nd generation immigrant – can’t even put the word ‘belong’ in a narrative song about fitting in.
Disturbingly, Now He’s a Poof gloried
in juvenile homophobia:
“Aids and herpes, he’s got ’em /
The evidence is written all over his bottom.” It was more than outrageous enough to get them condemned in the court of liberal opinion, yet listen closely and the Macc Lads were always a subversive parody of such unreconstructed macho bigotry. (Ian Gittins, the Guardian, June 2015)
Now, He’s A Poof by Macc Lads
Get stuffed you arse bandit.
One of me best mates,
He come from Macc,
And we used to go out pulling crack,
Now we know it were just a farce,
’cause he’s got spunk dribbling out of his arse.
He’s got scabs from stalking other men,
We’re never going to talk to him again,
He’s gone all nesh and he’s making us sick,
We wouldn’t give him cheese off us dicks.
Now he’s a poof, we can’t handle it.
Now he’s a poof, he does spermy shits.
Now he’s a poof, he leaves white stains wherever he sits.
He’s gone to pot and he’s shaved his head,
He’s got some black bloke sleeping in his bed,
AIDS and herpes, he’s got ’em,
The evidence is written all over his bottom.
Now he’s never in the pub, now he’s no fun,
He’s got sores and scabs all over his bum.
We’ll have to pin him down on the deck
And pour some Boddies down his fucking neck.
’cause he’s a poof, he drinks lemonade,
Now he’s a poof, and he’s full of AIDS,
Now he’s a poof, and he likes his buttocks splayed….
Now he’s a poof, he’s a fuckin’ slob,
Now he’s a poof, he’s got a shitty nob,
Now he’s a poof, he’s got spunk all over his gob….
Now he’s a poof, he’s a fucking queer,
Now he’s a poof, he’s got gonarhea
Now he’s a poof, he can’t hold his fucking beer.
Now he’s a poof, he’s an arse bandit,
Now he’s a poof, he does spermy shits,
Now he’s a poof, and he doesn’t like to feel girl’s tits.
Now he’s a poof, we can’t handle it,
Now he’s a poof, he leaves white stains wherever he sits,
He’s a poof, he’s a fucking queer arse bandit,
He’s a fucking poof, he drinks lemonade,
For Christ’s sake he’s a poof, he likes his buttocks splayed,
He’s a poof, he’s fucking going to spread AIDS all over the world,
Kill the bastard….