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)
“Most interviews I have been very displeased with because, obviously, you don’t have any control. You can be very merry in an interview and it can come across as being very dour. Or you can say something flippantly which will be written in blood in the music press and it sounds as though you’re deadly serious. You’re throwing yourself on the mercy of a journalist who can be friendly during the interview but can turn out to be something of a behemoth in print.” (Morrissey, 1983)
In November, 2017, Morrissey gave an interview in LA to Der Spiegel journalist, Juliane Liebert.
The way she framed the questions and the way she wrote up the answers would lead to Morrissey being accused of threatening to kill Trump, being a rape apologist, and hating refugees.
He’d been through all this before – the press taking his meandering thoughts about politics, or his lyrics, and turning them into inflammatory rows about child abuse, racism and violence, blaming him for the anger generated by their own journalese, when his main interests are animals, the misuse of state/media power, and music.
Signs of trouble (from the audio):
He directly relates news to mental health – & she doesn’t ask if or how it affected him.
He speaks very gently & gets written up as if he’s ranting.
She’s been told not to ask about politics – she asks anyway.
He tells her he’s exhausted by journalists saying he means something that he doesn’t mean, happily talking to him & then morally correcting him in print. Which is what she does.
He’s not sleeping. (She would write that he kept her waiting as a power move, when it’s far more likely he was too tired.)
She calls Jackie a stupid song & laughs when he says he tries to look good – which is when she should have been politely shown the door.
He reads 8 or so books at a time but has never heard of the BDS movement so he might have ideas but he’s got no grassroots experience.
He’s talking about political structures & she’s talking about Twitter shitstorms.
The vast bulk of the interview is about animals & music; his main purpose is getting abattoirs banned – he compares it to Auschwitz again (which always goes down badly because most people can’t imagine seeing animals as equal). He doesn’t like generic songs. Most of it is cut.
She asks him if he would kill Trump. He says he would. (It’s hypothetical, but in December 2017, he would claim that the American security services had questioned him about making death threats)
She asks if he’s been following #MeToo, he says, ‘to some extent, yes, but then it became a play.’ He says nothing about Weinstein at all. He talks about keeping perspective, clumsy courtships & later twists back on to the casting couch in general.
Other celebrities would make stronger points (most of them memoryholed).
She asks about Kevin Spacey being replaced in a film. He’d been accused of sexually assaulting a 14 year old in his bedroom after a party when he was in his 20s. Morrissey questions the circumstances based on music’s groupie scene. She mentions David Bowie who slept with 14 year olds in his 20s. He condemns all forms of sexual violence. But thinks this story doesn’t ring true (probably because of Bowie) and that Spacey might have been unfairly attacked.
The press/Twitter would claim that he was robustingly defending Weinstein and Spacey, callously blaming the victims, while in full possession of the facts of their cases.
The interview moves on to politics. She thinks bad leaders look like cartoon villains. He thinks the EU is the German Empire. (It does have the most clout.)
He talks about countries retaining their own identity – language, laws, common ground, things that people have fought for – it’s not really controversial, but multiculturalism is one of those buzzwords where you’re not allowed nuance – you must be wholly for or against – because that makes it quicker to write an opinion piece. (Dorian Lynskey, in The New Statesman, will write that this means Morrissey approves of the Nazis.)
After Labour was defeated in the December election of 2019, the left would start to grapple with identity in exactly the way (Irish Catholic English) Morrissey has always been grappling with it.
In parts of the left, there is an unattractive blind spot that misses the importance of collective attachment to an inherited landscape, both physical and emotional. That landscape is not immutable but it shapes a sense of belonging and context. For many Leave voters, particularly those who have traditionally voted Labour, the emotional landscape of “England” has offered a way to express communal values neglected during 30 years of excessive individualism, licensed by both left and right. (The Observer, January 2021)
He then takes a jab at Angela Merkel’s handling of the 2015 refugee crisis and said Berlin had turned into the rape capital of Europe (which is either hyperbole or a viral story he picked up from somewhere). He was blaming Merkel for the chaos, but it was taken as an attack on refugees.
There had been reports of increased sexual assaults, which wasn’t surprising considering how many refugees were young men without any family support.
“Crimes committed by [asylum-seeking] immigrants saw a disproportionate increase last year — there’s nothing there we can gloss over,” said German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière. He said when it came to violent crimes there were “about 90 per cent more immigrant suspects in 2016” than in the prior year. (Financial Times, April, 2017)
Morrissey’s stance on these things is macro, the refugee crisis shouldn’t have happened; because there shouldn’t be global inequality, we shouldn’t wage war & we shouldn’t destroy the environment.
In his roundabout way, it’s class-based socialism.
The destruction and abandonment of labor politics means that, at present, immigration issues can only play out within the framework of a culture war, fought entirely on moral grounds. In the heightened emotions of America’s public debate on migration, a simple moral and political dichotomy prevails. It is “right-wing” to be “against immigration” and “left-wing” to be “for immigration.” But the economics of migration tell a different story. (Angela Negle, American Affairs Journal, November 2018)
Liebert says he’s against all immigration.
Morrissey tries to clarify, no, he isn’t, with a squeal, but it’s too late.
Journalists are under no obligation to print everything & only have to prove you said those words, however they edited them. Interpretation, however unfair, is fair comment.
He reacted badly to the way it was sensationalised:
Der Spiegel released the audio, timestamping the most controversial passages, so that most people would miss the lead up and follow on.
He had talked about Trump, Refugees and Spacey and that was enough for everyone to declare that he had been caught lying.
He released a sorrowful video on his nephew’s YouTube account, in December 2017:
Suddenly, I was sympathizing with sexual harassment. I was apparently sympathizing with pedophilia, I was sympathizing with rape, I was sympathizing with everything that would persuade anybody on the planet to stop listening to me. Of course, none of those assumptions were true. I do not support anything like that. You can hear it even in the tone of my voice… However, this is the world we now live in with the print media. It seems to me that, in the first place, they get very angry or very excited if you stop to say something that people are listening to or that reflect the will of the people. They get very nervous. They won’t allow it. They shut it down and so forth… But also, it seems to me that, in England at the moment, the right wing has adopted a left wing stance, and the left wing has adopted a right wing stance, so everybody’s confused, and nobody seems to know what people mean. This shuts down free speech. This shuts down any open debate about anything. And consequently, we’re all in a mess, and we don’t know where we stand… So I fear that the campaign for Low in High School and for the surrounding singles was derailed and damaged purposely by the haters. They’re not listening to the music. They’re not listening to anything, really. They see my name, and they want to get rid of it as quickly as possible.And as I said, in many ways, they do succeed. There’s not really that much you can do about it.
It’s been argued that if he can’t explain himself in a way that chimes with popular debates in the press, then he deserves all he gets. But that means you’re limiting who can participate in the arts to people who are good at press and marketing, which would also restrict the type of art they’re likely to make.
And although he wasn’t part of the culture war – his political focus is relentlessly on animals, and anyone who thought he would become a pundit was sorely disappointed – he had picked up on a real problem.
The left was behaving very much like the right. Anyone who tells you that virtue signalling on Twitter is a good thing, is someone who depends on likes and RTs for their living or their self-esteem. It’s had a catastrophic impact on public life. Polarizing debates, hounding people for saying problematic things, or even for being friends with someone who has, pushing people to the right for solidarity, and rendering us incapable of understanding that good people can have different ideas and experiences from our own fiercely held tribal positions.
… One grandstands when one makes a contribution to public moral discourse that aims to convince others that one is “morally respectable.” By this we mean that grandstanding is a use of moral talk that attempts to get others to make certain desired judgments about oneself, namely, that one is worthy of respect or admiration because one has some particular moral quality—for example, an impressive commitment to justice, a highly tuned moral sensibility, or unparalleled powers of empathy. To grandstand is to turn one’s contribution to public discourse into a vanity project. (Justin Tosi, Brandon Warmke, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Summer 2016)
The internet… has encouraged us to hole ourselves up in ideological fortresses; to build moats around our value systems, to pull up our mental drawbridges; and to fire verbal arrows at anyone with a different perspective… with little room for uncertainty or nuance. The way we are pressured to “cancel” public figures we once admired is spiteful and reductive… It means many of us have a predetermined position on news stories even before they break. (Dani Garavelli, The Scotsman, October 2020)
While fluidity of identity, plurality, and multiplicity are always claimed on behalf of the VC members — partly to cover up their own invariably wealthy, privileged, or bourgeois-assimilationist background — the enemy is always to be essentialized. Since the desires animating the VC are in large part priests’ desires to excommunicate and condemn, there has to be a strong distinction between Good and Evil, with the latter essentialized. Notice the tactics. X has made a remark/has behaved in a particular way — these remarks/ this behavior might be construed as transphobic/sexist etc. So far, okay. But it’s the next move which is the kicker. X then becomes defined as a transphobe/sexist etc. Their whole identity becomes defined by one ill-judged remark or behavioral slip. Once the VC has mustered its witch-hunt, the victim (often from a working class background, and not schooled in the passive-aggressive etiquette of the bourgeoisie) can reliably be goaded into losing their temper, further securing their position as pariah/latest to be consumed in feeding frenzy. (Mark Fisher, Exiting The Vampire Castle, 2013)
In a June 2018 interview with Fiona Dodwell, Morrissey said (of Anne Marie Waters)
she wants everyone in the UK to live under the same law. I find this compelling, now, because it’s very obvious that Labour or the Tories do not believe in free speech… I mean, look at the shocking treatment of Tommy Robinson…
This is his only mention of Robinson and it relates to the law.
Sometime in the 2010s Morrissey’s obsession with animals had reached the point where his main ambition was the total abolition of the abattoir.
“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… 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.” (HuffPost, June 2015)
In August 2016 he gave an interview to an Australian news site – it was his usual mordant mix of politics, music, and animals. All meat-eaters get equal wistful ire – David Cameron, The Royals, Iceland… He’s asked about standing for London mayor, he doesn’t fancy his chances.
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. The Mayor was eventually elected on very few votes, and of course he eats Halal butchered beings, and talks so quickly that people can’t understand him … and that suits the British media perfectly.
In The Guardian, Hadley Freeman, took this section and decided it made him a libertarian racist, weirdly she seems to have missed that he spent most of the 90s being called a racist for holding a Union Jack.
It’s the emphatic inclusion of “halal” that adds a spicy hint of racism to Morrissey’s animal rights campaigning, doesn’t it?
And while it’s perverse to approve of two politicians from opposite ends of the spectrum, probably because they’re never likely to become Prime Ministers, it wasn’t worth the snark.
Morrissey seems to have taken it as a sign that he wasn’t allowed to talk about animal suffering if it involved religion, even though welfare organisations, including the RSPCA call for an end to unstunned religious slaughter.
I can’t see how opposing Halal slaughter makes me racist when I’ve objected to ALL forms of animal slaughter all of my life. (Morrissey Central, April 2019)
Hence his interest in Anne Marie Waters, a former left-wing activist, who had been recruited by far right grifter Tommy Robinson, who seems to have convinced her that the left would never put women’s rights (her particular angle) before Sharia Law, as administered by Sharia Courts, the first known one in Britain being established in 1982 in order to “solve the matrimonial problems of Muslims living in the United Kingdom in the light of Islamic family law”, for example marriages, divorce and inheritance issues”.
Ms Waters, 39, who has twice tried to stand for election as a Labour candidate, is focusing much of her campaign on Muslim grooming gangs who have been convicted of sexually abusing girls in several English cities.
Anne Marie is the director of Sharia Watch UK, a watchdog which says its “particularly concerned with the elements of sharia law which are discriminatory and violent towards women and girls, and which endanger and threaten the democratic principle of freedom of speech.
Recently, I sought help to fund a consultation with defamation solicitors to discuss the legal position regarding newspapers referring to people as “far-right”, “fascist” or “racist” simply because we speak negatively about Islam. Those of us who do so are frequently subject to smears from the press, which portrays us bigots and liars.
At a book launch in June 2014, she said, Islam was an ideology that was being appeased by the state and ‘it is exactly the same appeasement that is allowing young girls to be raped in Britain, it’s got nothing to do with race, it’s got to do with the fact that we will not confront the misogyny at the very, very heart of this religion’.
There’s no evidence that Islam had anything to do with the grooming gang scandal but it’s true that for 20 years the police and social workers turned a blind eye to groups of mainly Muslim men sexually exploiting white girls, and a few people who raised concerns were labeled racists.
Anne Marie seems genuinely tormented by the idea that religion gives men a licence to abuse, Tommy cheerfully latches on to anything that causes racial strife – from ‘reporting’ Asian grooming gangs in 2018 (online misinformation made it sound as if the courts were protecting the accused, rather than trying to avoid prejudicing the trial), to supporting Muslim parents who wanted LGBT+ teaching materials removed from primary schools, in 2020.
And the left really is intensely bad at dealing with anything to do with race that isn’t white supremacy.
‘There’s a persistent taboo on the Left which demands that every incident of terror be attributed to American foreign policy… But Islamists aren’t killing cartoonists because the U.S. invaded Iraq. And ISIS isn’t exterminating the Yazidis because of America’s sordid relationship with Saudi Arabia.’
In April 2018, on Central, Morrissey recommended Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe, a conservative (at best) book that gathers so many true incidences of rights clashes between Islam and liberal values that you could miss the conspiracy theory that underpins it – that Cultural Marxists hate the West so much they’re allowing Saudi Arabia to stealth colonise it.
Morrissey repeated a couple of talking points about crime cover-ups – but not enough to be deeply into the alt-right, and he’s never walked back on his hatred for their hero, Trump.
“Trump has received so much attention, especially when compared to other candidates – Bernie Sanders, for example. Although the media said he would not win, every day, all the headlines: Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump!.. The American media helped Trump, yes, they first created it. Whether they criticise him or laugh at him, he does not care, he just wants to see his picture and his name. The American media have shot themselves in the leg… Since he has been in power, he has exhausted the world… He grabs after everything like a little child. He is not a leader. He is a pest… I never expected him to be elected. Maybe, I have no faith in the political elite anymore.” (Der Spiegel, November 2017)
Even in Fiona’s interview he mostly focuses on animals, music, and escaping England.
…they assume you’ve adopted the moral high ground by refusing to eat a dead animal. And they’re right! But you only take the stand on behalf of the butchered animal – you don’t make money from your point of view. You become the voice of the animal …. who kicked and struggled to hang on to life, but who was chopped up because some fat oaf in Woking fancied some commercial-break nibbles. The truth is, vegans are actually superior beings. A television documentary recently covered a duck farm somewhere in England, and as all the chicks emerged from their incubator chirping away, the TV presenter said “Ooh they’re so cute, they’re so beautiful, oh look, look at their little faces,” and then she turned to the camera with a straight face and said matter-of-factly “the chicks will be allowed to live for 8 weeks and will then be slaughtered” and I thought, wow, people really ARE utterly stupid, aren’t they? This is what you’re up against – recognition that the chicks were beautiful, yet not ALLOWED to live longer than 8 weeks because someone wants to suck on their innards. It’s barbaric. Do people realize how deadly they sound?
There are a lot of singers who just want to get on the TV and be looked at. I know I do. Sorry, that was a joke.
I love to travel now, and I feel very excited to be in Turkey, Poland, Finland, Israel, and so on. Whether they actually want me there is entirely another matter. But, of course, it’s always great to get away from Channel 4 News. In fact, that really is the main reason to travel …
Ex-fan Stewart Lee however decided that mentioning Tommy Robinson’s name meant that there’s no longer any way to make the case that Morrissey ever meant anything other than what he says – that he was telling a Bengali that he didn’t belong in the UK (Bengali In Platforms), that he was saying England should be for the English (National Front Disco), even though Morrissey is an Irish Catholic who didn’t feel he belonged in England and was called a ‘Paddy’ at school, not because of his middle-name, but because he was Irish.
“I don’t think I’ve ever really had a Manchester accent. The accent is really quite broad, whereas I’ve always had a very flat accent – there’s a soft lilt in there somewhere. But then you have to remember my background. My parents are from Dublin, they met and married there… My mother’s family grew up in Pearse Street but later moved to Crumlin where my father’s from. Going back even further my mother’s father was from Cashel. Their name was McInnerny and they used to own half of Cashel, they were wealthy land owners – there’s still a few of them down there. So with so much Irishness around us, 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.”
“I’ve always been independent in the true sense of the word and I shall remain so. I’ve never been part of anything. I’ve never belonged to anything. Even when The Smiths were doing Top Of The Pops we felt like outsiders. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been on EMI, Mercury or RCA, I’ve always maintained the true spirit that I feel. (Irish Times, November, 1999)
In 1986 The Smiths were interviewed by Frank Owen, an ex-musician from Manchester.
Frank was interested in hip-hop and house music by then but couldn’t get any of the music press in England to cover it, ‘they’d say, “What do you want to write about all these grungy Negroes in there?”‘
The main thrust of his article would be an attempt to get Morrissey to talk about the punk-gay-disco scene they’d both been part of and to get him to come out as gay.
The music journalist Simon Reynolds had split pop into Indie and Black. Indie was ‘intelligent’ and Black was ‘crude showbiz’.
Frank seemed unaware that Simon was tapping into the racist trope that black people are all about the body.
Worse, he claimed, with absolutely no evidence and no sign of disapproval, that Morrissey was singing about ‘hanging black DJs’ in the song Panic, which was about Radio 1 playing a chirpy band like Wham after announcing the Chernobyl nuclear leak.
But the question he put to Morrissey was ‘so is the music of The Smiths and their ilk racist, as Green claims?’ (Green Gartside was the lead singer of Scritti Politti.)
Moz defended Indie by saying:
“Reggae, for example, is to me the most racist music in the entire world. It’s an absolute total glorification of black supremacy… There is a line when defence of one’s race becomes an attack on another race and, because of black history and oppression, we realise quite clearly that there has to be a very strong defence. But I think it becomes very extreme sometimes. But, ultimately, I don’t have very cast iron opinions on black music other than black modern music which I detest. I detest Stevie Wonder. I think Diana Ross is awful. I hate all those records in the Top 40 – Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston. I think they’re vile in the extreme. In essence this music doesn’t say anything whatsoever.”
He accepts that reggae has to be strong, just thinks it might be extreme sometimes.
And there does seem to have been some concern about it in the 70s, in the same way that Skins and Punks were a concern.
In 1978 the NME journalists Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons, in their book The Boy Looked At Johnny, had said about Reggae:
The 1979 sociology book Rastaman by Ernest Cashmore, explored elements of racial superiority, homophobia and sexism in Rasta youth culture.
Morrissey’s use of the word ‘vile’ is a camp affectation but he had a habit of being airily scathing about nearly everything that wasn’t his fierce love of the moment.
Frank countered with, black music is more subtle because it works on the body via the dancefloor, Moz wasn’t convinced.
“I don’t think there’s any time anymore to be subtle about anything, you have to get straight to the point. Obviously to get on Top Of The Pops these days, one has to be, by law, black. I think something political has occurred among Michael Hurl and his friends and there has been a hefty pushing of all these black artists and all this discofied nonsense into the Top 40. I think, as a result, that very aware younger groups that speak for now are being gagged.”
The ‘by law’ was a joke /hyperbole. He’d previously used it about himself.
Well, I wouldn’t stand on a table and should, ‘I’m a feminist’ or put a red stamp across my forehead, but if one tends towards prevalent feminist views, by law, you immediately become one. Likewise, if you have great sympathy with gay culture you are immediately a transsexual. I did one interview where the gay issue was skirted over in three seconds and when the interview emerged in print, there I was emblazonedacross the headlines as this great voice of the gay movement, as if I couldn’t possibly talk about anything else. I find that extremely harmful and I simply don’t trust anyone anymore. (Morrissey, The Face, July 1984)
And his ire was aimed at Top of The Pops producer Michael Hurl, who is not black.
Frank put it in terms of black and white, ‘You seem to be saying that you believe that there is some sort of black pop conspiracy being organised to keep white indie groups down.’
Moz, not picking up on it, kept it about escapism and real life, and is still blaming (white, male) producers:
“Yes, I really do.The charts have been constructed quite clearly as an absolute form of escapism rather than anything anyone can gain any knowledge by. I find that very disheartening because it wasn’t always that way. Isn’t it curious that practically none of these records reflect life as we live it? Isn’t it curious that 93 and a half percent of these records reflect life as it isn’t lived? That foxes me! If you compare the exposure that records by the likes of Janet Jackson and the stream of other anonymous Jacksons get to the level of daily airplay that The Smiths receive – The Smiths have had at least 10 consecutive chart hits and we still can’t get on Radio 1′s A list. Is that not a conspiracy? The last LP ended up at number two and we were still told by radio that nobody wanted to listen to The Smiths in the daytime. Is that not a conspiracy? I do get the scent of a conspiracy.And, anyway, the entire syndrome has one tune and surely that’s enough to condemn the entire thing.”
Frank asks him if he finds Black music macho, Moz says it isn’t his world, and adds:
I don’t want to feel in the dock because there are some things I dislike. Having said that, my favourite record of all time is “Third Finger, Left Hand” by Martha and the Vandellas which can lift me from the most doom-laden depression.
Frank accuses him of being a nostalgic luddite (later journalist Tony Fletcher will accuse him of not wanting black people to prosper in the present), Moz is unconvinced about technology.
‘Hi-tech can’t be liberating. It’ll kill us all. You’ll be strangulated by the cords of your compact disc.’
Frank asks him about the violence in Manchester and the lyrics of Never Had No One Ever and Morrissey explains they’re about how confused he felt about not feeling at home where he was born because his parents were from Ireland.
“It was the frustration that I felt at the age of 20 when I still didn’t feel easy walking around the streets on which I’d been born, where all my family had lived – they’re originally from Ireland but had been here since the Fifties. It was a constant confusion to me why I never really felt ‘This is my patch. This is my home. I know these people. I can do what I like, because this is mine.’ It never was. I could never walk easily.”
And the article ends with Morrissey reminiscing about his time on the gay scene.
“If the Perry’s didn’t get you, then the beer monsters were waiting around the corner. I still remember studying the football results to see if City or United had lost, in order to judge the level of violence to be expected in the city centre that night. I can remember the worst night of my life with a friend of mine, James Maker, who is the lead singer in Raymonde now. We were heading for Devilles (a gay club). We began at the Thompson’s Arms (a gay pub), we left and walked around the corner where there was a car park, just past Chorlton Street Bus Station. Walking through the car park, I turned around and, suddenly, there was a gang of 30 beer monsters all in their late twenties, all creeping around us… The gay scene in Manchester was always atrocious. Do you remember Bernard’s Bar, now Stuffed Olives? If one wanted peace and to sit without being called a parade of names then that was the only hope... 1975 was the worst year in social history. I blame ‘Young Americans’ entirely. I hated that period – Disco Tex and the Sex-o-lettes, Limmy and Family Cooking. So when punk came along, I breathed a sigh of relief. I met people. I’d never done that before… I never liked The Ranch. I have a very early memory of it and it was very, very heavy. I never liked Dale Street. There was something about that area of Manchester that was too dangerous.”
Frank would throw in some homophobic language, ‘You big jessy, you big girl’s blouse, Morrissey. But he’s right. It was dangerous and, with the increased media visibility of punk, the violence got worse. You see, punks were not only faggots, they were uppity faggots as well‘, and an insinuation about cottaging that Morrissey found upsetting. In his 2013 autobiography he said,
“Because of the public-toilet disparagement, there are of course legal grounds to take action against Melody Maker, but Rough Trade are now making useful inroads with the press because of the Smiths, and they don’t want to cause a fuss, and I am still too green around the gills to ignore their reluctance. I could attempt to tackle Melody Maker myself, but without the label behind me, I am at sea.“
Most people – ignoring that Morrissey had more or less confirmed that he was openly gay, had said he didn’t feel at home because his family were immigrants, and was afraid of violence and the parade of insults he was subjected to – considered this article to be a major racism scandal – with Morrissey accused of thinking black people were conspiring against him, him disliking modern black music being equated with hating black people, and Frank’s wrong assertion that Panic was about hanging black Djs taken as fact.
Johnny Marr, who never strays from the safest of safe showbiz political opinions, was furious,
“next time we come across that creep, he’s plastered. We’re not in the habit of issuing personal threats, but that was such a vicious slur-job that we’ll kick the shit out of him. Violence is disgusting but racism’s worse and we don’t deal with it.”(NMW, February 1987)
Tony Fletcher, in his 2012 book about The Smiths, A Light That Never Goes Out, has nothing to say about the leading questions or the homophobia. In fact he seems to think Morrissey deserves the homophobia, putting Morrissey’s ‘no sex’ agenda in quotes, saying Frank dared suggest in writing that in years to come, Morrissey would be into “fisting and water sports”, accepting this explanation:
“Morrissey is the biggest closet gay queen on the planet and he felt that I was trying to ‘out’ him by bringing this up.
‘If he wanted to play coy, that was his prerogative, although with Thatcherite policies coming down increasingly hard on homosexuality, many other artists had decided to “come out” in response. As Len Brown wrote, “It was a time when everyone—artists and journalists—seemed to be asking the question (politically and sexually) ‘Whose Side Are You On?’ To which Morrissey insisted on being individual … a card-carrying member of nothing but his own cult of personality.”‘
He took out Morrissey’s meandering qualifications and made it sound as if Panic was about a detestation of black modern music so strong that he wasn’t ‘content to leave it there’ even though he was only replying to Frank.
Not content to leave it there, Morrissey went on to express how much he detested the “black modern music” of Motown descendants Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson, and Diana Ross, stating, per the lyrics to “Panic,” that “in essence this music doesn’t say anything whatsoever.”
He also ascribed Frank’s comments about NME and Melody Maker readers to ‘Morrissey’s thinking’, while accepting the racist assumption that Black music is about the body, pretending that British youth hadn’t danced before rave, took Morrissey’s joke about the law seriously and thought it was ridiculous that escapist music gets more airplay than morose Indie music – OF COURSE IT DOES!
Owen claimed to understand this thinking. “When NME and Melody Maker started putting black acts on the cover,” he recalled, “there was a huge backlash to it. I used to get letters all the time. And it wasn’t explicitly ‘We don’t want blacks on the cover,’ it was more like ‘This is our scene and what do blacks have to do with it?’ ” And so, in his Melody Maker feature, as a response to Morrissey’s own response, Owen tried to answer that question: “What it says can’t necessarily be verbalised easily,” he wrote. “It doesn’t seek to change the world like rock music by speaking grand truths about politics, sex and the human condition. It works at a much more subtle level—at the level of the body and the shared abandon of the dancefloor. It won’t change the world, but it’s been said it may well change the way you walk through the world.” Within a year or two, as acid house exploded (the kindling lit on the Haçienda dance floor) and the rave movement emerged in its wake, a large section of British youth would come to share Owen’s sentiment, the Smiths’ Johnny Marr and New Order’s Bernard Sumner among them. In the summer of 1986, though, Morrissey was still the voice of his generation, which was perhaps why he then dared issue the most ludicrous comment yet of a continually outspoken career: “Obviously to get on Top of the Pops these days, one has to be, by law, black,” which he followed up with an equally ridiculous claim of personal persecution.
He also thought it was suspect that Morrissey liked a sexist song that was released when he was seven years old.
Even the singer’s attempt to restore proceedings mid-interview sounded suspect. “My favourite record of all time is ‘Third Finger, Left Hand’ by Martha and the Vandellas,” he said, citing a (black) Motown single from 1966, “which can lift me from the most doom-laden depression.” And yet this was as stereotypically romantic, conventionally sexist, and thereby nonfeminist a song as had ever been written. It would have said nothing about Morrissey’s life when it came out, and said even less about his life and that of his fans twenty years later. He was in essence employing a double standard, based on what Owen correctly referred to as a “nostalgia … that afflicts the whole indie scene.”
And thought that Morrissey’s comments were a defence of ‘Panic’ rather than in response to Frank’s questions about Indie. Frank himself is blind to the racist assumptions that shaped the division of pop into Black and Indie and thinks that it’s Morrissey who caused the problem to ‘wind people up’.
As it turned out, Owen wasn’t particularly put out by Morrissey’s comments in defense of “Panic.” “I never thought Morrissey was a racist,” he said. “I always thought it was just a big put-on, that it was just a way to wind people up, the same way that punks wore swastikas.”
In 2018 music journalist Pete Paphides, gutted the interview to claim that Morrissey had ‘always’ been repugnant.
He accused Morrissey of ‘trolling’ for using the Attack reggae label in 2004 – nearly 18 years after this interview, and 12 years after the homophobic abuse Morrissey received at Finsbury Park was misrepresented as Morrissey waving the Union Jack in support of racist English nationalism.
Having failed to see that Morrissey talked about his own experiences of being from an immigrant family, that Frank was mainly trying to get Morrissey to talk about his sexuality and that Morrissey had said that black people had a history of oppression, Pete claims to have always kept the door ajar in case Morrissey’s views about race and identity were more nuanced.
but he can’t listen to most of Morrissey’s work because of what he was and continues to be.
Considering that some journalists have been entirely blind to their own prejudices while spending nearly 40 years scrutinizing every word Morrissey says for racism, crafting every distorted violation into a litany – the thing that Morrissey was and continues to be that bothers them so much is probably, ‘humasexual’, asocial and sardonic.
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.
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)
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 Quietusagreed 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)
On August 8th 1992 Morrissey played at Finsbury Park with headliners Madness. He’d worked with band members, Suggs and Cathal Smyth, and also with their producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley.
During his set the crowd shouted homophobic insults & threw coins & bottles.
Increasing angry he thrashed a Union Jack about the stage & was so incensed or distressed by the ‘loathsome yobbos’ that he refused to play the 2nd day of the two day booking.
Nowadays he could phone the police & they would investigate it as a hate crime.
Back then he was denounced as a drama queen, who had blown it with his imagery & let his fans down.
The NME implied he was a racist & a fascist.
Cornershop burned his picture outside EMI.
The press dismissed violent homophobia to denounce Morrissey for his art & for refusing to explain himself to the press who had dismissed violent homophobia.
Morrissey has always said that he was attracted to men and women, and talked about transexuality and gender. In 1991 he’d toured with lesbian singer, Phranc. It’s likely that at least some of the audience had been targeting what they thought they knew about his sexuality.
Years later the NME plunged him into yet another race row because he thought Knightsbridge – the most expensive street in London – had lost its local character.
28 years later The Guardian asked if he was showing his true colours.
Love Music Hate Racism used it to say he has a long history of supporting Far Right organisations – his only other ‘support’ being a comment that The BNP should be allowed to speak (Morrissey is from an Irish Catholic family, he supported a United Ireland & between 1988 & 1994 Sinn Fein’s politicians had their voices banned on UK television) – which also turned into a race row.
Former friends eager to cast him out as a tax exile (foreign now, nothing to do with them) have never said a word about it:
& if you read Morrissey’s press there are numerous examples of low key homophobic or transphobic jokes.
For example, David Quantick, who created 2019’s #Moztits Twitter hashtag (attacking him for having a feminine/fat body), described him in 1997 as ‘Mozz Flanders in a dank cellette’. Or ‘Dorrissey’ the Morrissey parody in the 1980s video game ‘Rock Star Ate My Hamster’.
Which might be why the homophobia has been entirely written out of the story.
“Animal welfare groups cannot persist simply in order to continue to persist. There must be a governmental voice against the hellish and archaic social injustice allotted to animals in the United Kingdom simply because those animals do not speak English, otherwise millions of very caring citizens are greatly concerned about issues that no one is able to do anything about.
What animal protectionists need to say is very well worth saying and well worth hearing. But we cannot just sit around waiting for establishment enlightenment. The sanctimonious disaster of animal agriculture cannot be allowed to go on forever, because its widespread impact is hellish. Animals in dairy farms and abattoirs are very eager not to die, yet their bodies are torn apart while still alive as they are strapped beneath a blade. No outcome can justify this, and we cannot be happy with a society that allows it to happen, because such a society without compassion goes nowhere.
The abattoir is the modern continuation of the Nazi concentration camp, and if you are a part of the milk-drinking population, then you condone systems of torture. There is no such thing as humane slaughter, and if you believe that there is, then why not experience it for yourself? If animal serial killer Jamie Oliver feels so passionate about including ‘kid meat’ (young goat) into the human diet, would he consider putting forth one of his own kids (children) for general consumption? If not, why not? What makes such people have absolutely no forgiveness towards animals? What hate drives them? The meat industry, after all, shows no compassion towards the planet, towards climate change, towards animals, towards human health. It is diabolically contrived and is the world’s No 1 problem. It is also the No 1 issue stifled from any political debate, which, if anything, highlights its importance.
The slaughterhouse effectively means that none of us are safe. Just investigate the appalling effects of meat production on our climate, environment, fields, forests, lakes, streams, seas, air and space. Your eyes will pop. No bigger global disaster could possibly be devised. Social justice for animals is not much to demand, because we are only asking humans to think rationally and with heart, even if being unable to hunt foxes and shoot birds would leave the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family with nothing else to do.”
In June 2019 Central posted a dubious video that compared rapper Stormzy’s positive media coverage (he wore a Union Jack police vest) with Moz’s negative media coverage (he was condemned for holding a Union Jack in 1992).
Central’s social media manager seems to be Morrissey’s nephew Sam Esty Rayner, who as far as anyone can tell will post absolutely anything.
Billy Bragg, outraged by the video, managed to obsessively refresh Google hoping to see Morrissey denounced AND Google the Animal Welfare Party, who he was convinced would benefit from Moz’s support, without discovering that Moz HAD supported them.
Clearly the Animal Welfare Party did not benefit from Moz’s support since Billy can’t remember a thing about it. And his For Britain support might have been just as obscure if his detractors hadn’t decided to have a meltdown about it.
Billy denounced Moz for abandoning outsiders while trying to make him an arts establishment pariah.
He made low digs at Morrissey’s talent (he stole his best line from a Taste of Honey) & sexuality (it’s a film that featured homosexuality) while concern trolling fans of The Smiths & attacking his best friend’s legacy (he’s heartbroken – presumably because Moz is so degenerate no one can listen to Smiths songs).
And he compared him to Oswald Mosley, an anti-semitic fascist.
Which is ironic considering Billy told Jewish people that they had work to do to rebuild trust with the Labour party & that they’d overstepped the mark by complaining that Jeremy Corbyn – then leader of the Labour Party – who Billy was actively campaigning for – was an anti-semite.
In 2017 Moz persuaded his bandmate Mando Lopez to post a Facebook comment for him on the French Leadership debate between Marine Le Pen & Emmanuel Macron.
He was immediately called a racist & tried again:
& got denounced as a racist again:
It’s moot whether Marine or Macron ‘won’ – but it’s true that news outlets, esp ones not covered by any kind of regulatory obligation to provide balance use loaded language to signal whether something is acceptable or not.
CNN can be openly partisan in favour of corporate liberalism, but vicious wars are being waged over perceived bias in the BBC. When a debate is extremely polarised it’s difficult to find a balance that will please either side.
So why was Morrissey bothered by commentary about a politician he couldn’t & wouldn’t vote for (Marine’s pro-hunting apart from anything else)?
Probably because he was thinking of his political mission to ban abattoirs.
Animal rights activists are routinely dismissed in the press as either violent extremists or irrelevant loons & he’s up against the world’s meat industry.
“Have people evolved in any way during your lifetime? Meaning the human race, generally? Well, because of food enlightenment, yes – it’s clear to everyone how the dairy industry is a bigger threat to the planet that the nuclear arms race. People are sick of animal slaughter. My final aim is to abolish the abattoir, and although I haven’t ever once voted in a general election, my vote awaits any party intelligent enough to ban the slaughterhouse. Only at that point would the world begin to grow up.” (December, 2017)
Since taking over The National Front in 2011, Marine Le Pen has rebranded them as The National Rally & has shifted most of their policies to the left, hoping to become a more respectable nationalist party along the lines of the Scottish Nationalist Party whose fascist links are almost completely forgotten.
During the debate her most controversial statement was a baseless jibe about Macron having an offshore bank account. And the French hard left saw both candidates as equally undesirable.
With very little to go on the press & therefore the public fell back on labels; Le Pen was far right & aggressive (she doesn’t come across as aggressive when compared to Anglophone politicians), Macron was a rational centrist…
As Morrissey is a militant animal liberationist with an extreme abolitionist stance – this was a very bad sign.
In August 2015 Morrissey was interviewed by Alternative Nation & Larry King.
As well as talking about his depression and animals, he was concerned about police brutality against Black people & wondered why Obama wasn’t doing more to help.
“Obama has mystified me because he doesn’t appear to support black people when they need it most… Ferguson being an obvious example. If Michael Brown had instead been one of Obama’s daughters, I don’t think Obama would be insisting that the nation support the so-called security forces! How can they be called security forces if they make the people feel insecure? Obama seems to be white inside. There is an obvious racial division in America and it’s exploding and Obama doesn’t ever support the innocent black people who are murdered by white police officers who are never held accountable. You would expect him to be more understanding of what it means to be black. But so far, he hasn’t been. There’s no point in continually saying that we must support the police when it is obvious to the entire world that the police in America are out of control.”
This being Morrissey, the press ignored the bit about innocent black people being murdered & went for the bit about Obama being white inside.
“I can’t see [Obama] doing anything at all for the black community… “ “…except warning them that they must respect the security forces. This is ludicrous because the so-called security forces are the Ku Klux Klan to most black Americans. It seems evident to me that black males are being deliberately murdered throughout America as a closing message to Obama, telling him that his presidency has meant nothing and that the division of color is now bigger than ever. Obama doesn’t see this, but if a white cop shot one of his daughters I don’t imagine he’d be willing to accept the exoneration of that white cop.”
“I am wryly amused by all of these tough cop reality programs on American TV…” “…because it’s always white cops arresting the black or Hispanic poor, yet you don’t ever see the cops frisking a crooked lawyer or chasing a middle-class accountant who’s robbed millions from clients. It’s always the extreme poor who are targeted by the cops because the poor have no influential friends and therefore can’t retaliate, and the cops know that they can play about with poor people.”
“[Obama] doesn’t look overly African black.” “He’s as close to soft whiteness as someone who isn’t white could get, and I often wonder if he would have been elected if he had a stronger, more African-black face? It’s a point.”
Hillary Clinton “has no competition” in the Democratic race. “I think she shows an earnest composure, whereas all of the Republican candidates are dangerously reactionary and occasionally insane. I don’t think Clinton has even begun to dig into the race yet, and when she does she will gain massive support. The world does not want to look at Donald Trump’s face for the years to come.”
“British politics will never again trust a woman because of [Margaret] Thatcher.” “And, in actual fact, it hasn’t.”
Salon interpreted this as taking another swipe at Obama’s race…
In America The land of the Free, they said And of Opportunity In a just and a truthful way But where the President Is never black, female or gay And until that day You’ve got nothing to say to me To help me believe In America
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.
“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:
“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.