In the NME’s homophobic hit piece in 1992, they cited, the Smiths song/album, The Queen is Dead, as one of Morrissey’s ‘English Nationalist’ songs.
“Take me back to dear old Blighty…”So sang Cicely Courtneidge in The L-Shaped Room, as grafted onto the evocative intro to ‘The Queen Is Dead”s opening title track. The ’60s kitchen sink movie is one of Morrissey’s pet favourites; the use of the patriotic pub singalong a mere atmosphere-setting quirk on an album littered with ambiguous pro/anti-nationalist signals. But, as ever with the controversy-courting bard of Whalley Range, it conjures images of Old England, Dunkirk spirit, British bulldog nostalgia and — stop us if you’ve heard this one before. (Andrew Collins, NME, 22 August 1992) https://folk-devil.com/2022/07/21/sexually-ambiguous/
Farewell to this land’s cheerless marshes Hemmed in like a boar between archers Her very Lowness with her head in a sling I’m truly sorry, but it sounds like a wonderful thing
“I say, Charles, don’t you ever crave To appear on the front of the Daily Mail Dressed in your Mother’s bridal veil?” Ooh, ooh, ooh And so I checked all the registered historical facts And I was shocked into shame to discover How I’m the 18th pale descendant of some old queen or other
Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed? Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed? As some 9-year-old tough, who peddles drugs I swear to God, I swear, I never even knew what drugs were Ooh, oh-oh, ooh
So I broke into the Palace with a sponge and a rusty spanner She said, “Eh, I know, and you cannot sing” I said, “That’s nothing, you should hear me play the piano” We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry And talk about precious things
But when you’re tied to your Mother’s apron No one talks about castration, ooh, oh-oh, ooh We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry And talk about precious things Like love and law and poverty, ooh-ooh (These are the things that kill me)
We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry And talk about precious things But the rain that flattens my hair, ooh (These are the things that kill me) All their life, they make love and then pierce through me
Pass the Pub that saps your body And the church who’ll snatch your money The Queen is dead, boys And it’s so lonely on a limb
Pass the Pub that wrecks your body And the church all they want is your money The Queen is dead, boys And it’s so lonely on a limb
Life is very long when you’re lonely
The Queen Is Dead, 1986, Morrissey
After the death of the Queen the song began to trend on Twitter, and it featured in articles about the pop music she inspired.
Morrissey has been slagging Queen Elizabeth for decades, almost too many times to count. Hell, it was even the name of the Smiths’ third studio album. Explaining what motivates his hatred for the royals to an Australian outlet in 2016, he said, “Monarchy represents an unequal and inequitable social system. There is no such thing as a royal person. You either buy into the silliness or else you are intelligent enough to realize that it is all human greed and arrogance.” (Joe Lynch, Billboard, 9 September 2022) https://www.billboard.com/lists/queen-elizabeth-ii-songs-lyrics/her-majesty-the-beatles-1969/
It also led to more demonisation.
He’s a notable eco-fascist (no examples are given):
… some on the far right are adopting xenophobic, racist ideas about what’s causing climate change — ideas that are rooted in eco-fascism. Fascism can be defined in many different ways, but typically, the oppressive ideology has characteristics rooted in white identity and violence against marginalized people, such as Black and Brown people, immigrants, and those in the LGBTQ+ community. Vice describes eco-fascism as an ideology “which blames the demise of the environment on overpopulation, immigration, and over-industrialization, problems that followers think could be partly remedied through the mass murder of refugees in Western countries.
Dick Gregory, America’s last hope, dies, aged 84. He knew how all aspects of the human condition connect to politics. He was a man of thought and a man of action, when most of us cannot manage to be just one of either. He worked breathlessly – work, words, deeds. He demanded for all what was snatched by the few. He disturbed the White House, and he was too quick for the American print media. They will be pleased that he now ceases to be amongst us… as we are left with earth-threatening Trump, who will race into war in search of peace.
Morrissey, 20 August 2017, Switzerland, posted on his nephew’s Facebook page
Side Note 2:
What A Creep podcast compared him to a wife beater (Ike Turner), and two alleged sexual predators (Win Butler of Arcade Fire, and Ryan Adams).
Morrissey has never been accused of physical violence or sex crimes.
Pop music is nostalgic in its bones – it is part of Morrissey’s gift always to have known this – and fans who adhere to its magic are in love with something that was passing as soon as it was made. True fans live in exile: that is their nature, their glory and their tragedy.
From the very beginning of Morrissey’s career, homophobic journalists tried to get his fans and colleagues to ditch him.
In 1983, Garry Bushell, in his Jaws column, urged the BBC and Rough Trade to dump the Smiths because of their “sicko songs”
The Beeb have finally rumbled the unpleasant truth behind ‘hip’ Manchester band, The Smiths… whose repulsiverepertoire includes perverted paens to child moslesting… To the anger and embarrassment of many Sounds staffers, the band’s songs were first brought to the world’s attention, and in fact praised, by David McCullough, who described them as ‘the kind of ultra violent grime rock n roll needs’. Try telling that to the mother of the six year old Brighton boy recently mob raped by paedophiles… Rough Trade should ban Smiths’ records… Beeb bosses should keep this perverted filth off the air. (Jaws, Sounds, 10 September 1983)
Later, his homophobia was more explicit.
Garry Bushell is a member of Mensa — an organisation for people who declare themselves to have above-average IQs. In Mensa’s latest journal he says that homosexuality is a “sad, dead-end perversion” and that people working in TV are promoted “solely because of their sexual preference”. (Media Watch Gay Times, February 1992)
Sometimes, journalists cloaked it in concern that Morrissey was exploiting his fans by ‘pretending’ to be vulnerable.
Ah, Morrissey. Clever, clever, shrewd Morrissey. Cunning, manipulative, exploitive, smug, irresponsible, Morrissey. This letter [Backlash letters page] makes me sicker than he could ever pretend to be. It’s so hopeless and passive and give up the ghost. Which means the orgy of duping, the career structure of the con-man rock star goes on. When twits like Mr S [a “fan”] top themselves, will you be there in the nick of time, Stephen [Morrissey] after a few quick changes of mannerisms in a handy phone booth? And if you’re so weak and timid, how come you’ve never had the slightest reluctance to show off? (Chris Roberts, Melody Maker, 26 March 1988)
Sometimes it was pure abuse:
Your hero [Morrissey] is in the twilight of his creativity… The public can see right through Old Flowery Twat. (Dele Fadele, NME, 19 May 1990)
In 1990, Steve Sutherland, decided that Morrissey was a threat to children because he looked gay in the International Playboys video.
The faint hint of homoeroticism around “The Last of the International Playboys”… opens a whole different can of worms. Is the tee shirt thing a sick joke – the celebrated celibate getting his kicks sticking to the sweaty skin of every boy and girl in the hall? From “Playboy”, with Mozzer like a stripper constantly tugging at his neckline and threatening to expose a nipple… [to] barely able to sing “Sister I’m a Poet” for the boys invading the stage and embracing him… (Steve Sutherland, Melody Maker, 26 May 1990)
video, The Last of the International Playboys, 1990
In the next edition, fans were encouraged to throw darts at the homoerotic nipple.
I’m talking about Morrissey fans… You’d scarcely credit there being any left in the early nineties, especially, when thank the Lord, you can be inoculated against everything… anyone who is still devoted to a camp, ageing parody of a would-be icon like Morrissey, deserves nothing more than a kick in the pants. These people are sick in the head… We’ve set up a poster of Morrissey and we encourage them to throw darts at his face and his exposed nipples… We’re hoping to raise enough to hire a hitman, so that we can really get to the heart of the problem… (“Thora Hird“, Melody Maker, 2 June 1990)
Melody Maker, 2 June 1990
In 1992 – building on the fallout from Frank Owen’s racist interpretation of the ‘Hip Hop Wars’ that saw Morrissey accused of racism for trying to answer his loaded questions – the NME accused Morrissey of inciting a homophobic hate attack against himself, at a Finsbury Park gig, by touching a Union Jack (for less than 3 minutes). They split his career into The Smiths (acceptable asexual) and solo (toxic homoerotic). And tried to bury him.
… excised from the hearts of many, horrified by the messy “flirtation” with racist imagery… the fact that this…man generates any interest at all this far down the line of lackluster albums and gallingly ambiguous behaviour is a mystery… Morrissey is an adoration junkie, plain and simple… his devoted audience has no such excuse… Times are hard, and yes, you’re going to need someone on your side. But at this point in the century, it really shouldn’t be this man. (Victoria Segal, the NME, November 1999)
… he has been tainted with accusations of nationalism and racism since he wrapped the Union Jack around himself at a Finsbury Park gig in 1992. Two weeks ago, the NME listed his crimes in anticipation of his British tour this week, and advised its readers to “brick” the singer offstage… Once the initial shock of Morrissey’s professed celibacy had abated, he was subject to… nasty innuendo and speculation about his sexuality… Despite all the evidence to the contrary the bittersweet eulogies to Handsome Devils and Sweet and Tender Hooligans, the iconoclastic images of male beauty that fill his record sleeves, the huge backdrops of skinhead boys [actually, girls] at his ill-fated gig in Finsbury Park in London, and quite apart from his slightly camp persona, we shouldn’t expect an imminent announcement that Morrissey is out and proud. (Sean Smith, the Big Issue, 15 November 1999) https://www.morrissey-solo.com/content/interview/big1199.htm
I would say ’97 felt bleak: racism was mentioned in nearly every Maladjusted review. The ’99 tour was accompanied by an NME article inviting readers to ‘brick’ morrissey offstage. Things didn’t get any warmer until 2002, when a new enthusiasm for The Smiths seemed to give Morrissey a bit of purchase. But even the 2004 NME interview was represented (by Steven Wells) as Morrissey grovelling for forgiveness. Things didn’t feel on an even keel until 2006. And we all know that lasted mere days. (“Hovis Lesley“, Morrissey Solo, 13 October 2021)
… he is a more intimidating presence than expected – unusually tall for a rock star, and thicker-set, not the droopy ironist you hear singing those droll and bitchy songs in a roughed-up Noel Coward-like voice… like an old-school East End villain… a soft but emphatic Mancunian brogue… characteristic contrariness… widely presumed to be gay… inexplicably popular with Mexicans. (Robert Sandall, the Times, 9 May 2004)
After a brief respite; in 2007, Tim Jonze, rehashed the 1992 homophobic hit piece, using mild remarks about immigration as the pretext. When Jonze joined the Guardian in 2010, he used its clout, credibility and connections to chip away at the fanbase, and slander Morrissey within the music industry.
Morrissey deserved to be marginalised:
If Morrissey can’t make a living out of playing to an audience as large and vociferous as the foam-flecked fundamentalists who follow him, there can be little hope for anyone else. But in some respects Morrissey is the author of his own marginalisation… Meanwhile the public persona that used to provoke and entertain – “Reggae is vile”, wishing unsanctioned biographer Johnny Rogan death in a car crash, “Cook Bernard Matthews” – became predictable, bitter and knee jerk. Likening Anders Breivik’s massacre at Utøya to a day at KFC, describing the Chinese as a sub-species, and blaming the royal family for the suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha all tried the patience of any but the most committed Morrissey sycophants. (Andrew Harrison, the Guardian, 22 July 2013) https://www.theguardian.com/music/shortcuts/2013/jul/22/morrissey-light-finally-gone-out?CMP=gu_com
He’s only worth ‘perverse lolz‘:
Morrissey, aloof as a queen, smug as a cat…As far as Morrissey concerts go, the one immortalised in his latest film Morrissey: Live isn’t the best. It saddens me to say it, but my love affair with Mozza is well and truly over… The low-point of the movie shows Morrissey handing the microphone to a selection of front-row fans who compete to give the best impressions of lobotomy patients… To hear him sing “For once in my life, let me get what I want” after several fans have done everything short of offering themselves up to him for sacrifice is ungrateful at best, disingenuous at worst. Ever decreasing circles of co-dependency with the ‘fans’ whilst the wider, more critical Audience either left long ago or now only go, like me, for the perverse lulz. (Ryan Gilbey, the New Statesman, 20 August 2013)
Here, Morrissey enters quasi-erotic raptures over the bad-lad fans, and tough-girl followers who constitute his final, uncritical, fanbase. (Andrew Harrison, the New Statesman, 14 November 2013)
The heterosexual one has to save the Smiths:
So it’s time for an intervention. Johnny Marr, protector of all that is right and good about the Smiths, we need you like never before. If you can banish Cameron to the wastelands, forcing him to salvage whatever meagre delights he can from the Mighty Lemon Drops, surely you can do the same to Morrissey. Just one tweet, that’s all it would take. “I forbid Morrissey from liking the Smiths.” That’s it. Then we can band together, Samwell Tarly and all, and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that our enjoyment of a perfectly good band won’t once again be tainted by the lunk-headed ravings of a professional irritant like Morrissey. (Stuart Heritage, the Guardian, October 2017) https://www.theguardian.com/music/commentisfree/2017/oct/03/morrissey-fans-are-about-to-give-up-on-him-johnny-marr-please-stage-an-intervention?CMP=twt_gu
He’s an animal:
Morrissey is a boring old jackass. In his old age, the king of the outcasts has become just like your weird racist Fox News-loving uncle… He cancels so much that many fans wonder if he has some kind of serious illness or mental disorder that would explain his erratic behavior. When he does manage to make it to the stage… straight white men openly weep and fling themselves at him… I wonder what Morrissey’s conservative friends think about that. I wonder what Morrissey thinks of that… My brain won’t fully allow me to disconnect his sickening quotes from the music… So if he doesn’t want to lose even more fans to their consciences, he’ll do what he should’ve done many years ago: Shut his stupid face. (Jamie Lees, Riverside Times, 22 November 2017)
He’s a monster:
… 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)
He must be stopped:
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. (Jed Gottlieb, Boston Herald, December 2017)
In 2018, self-described “former friend”, Dave Haslam, organised a party to protest against Morrissey’s supposed racism – getting positive coverage in the Guardian.
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. (Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian, June 2018) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/29/protest-party-riposte-poisonous-parody-morrissey-smiths-tommy-robinson
And because Morrissey was asked about Kevin Spacey, and didn’t think the story he heard in 2017 sounded true, and because Morrissey is widely believed to be gay, Haslam would go on to insinuate that Morrissey is a paedophile –
Stewart Lee would write that he held Morrissey to ‘different standards‘ out of ‘sentiment’ – the other artist that he mentions, just happens to be heterosexual.
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 Observer, July 2018)
The Guardian tried to contact everyone Morrissey worked with on California Son – ripping quotes out of context, failing to mention that he’d clearly stated that he was against fascism and racism and believed For Britain had been smeared as right-wing (probably based on his own experience of being smeared as right-wing). Only one person talked to them, but they used a misleading headline: ‘I feel like I’ve been had: Morrissey’s collaborator’s respond to his politics’ (Daniel Dylan Wray, The Guardian, 1 March 2019) https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/mar/01/morrissey-collaborators-respond-to-his-politics
Tim Jonze would write that fans felt betrayed – repeating misquotations, using bigoted framing and guilt by association, bringing up Finsbury Park as the keystone, and splitting his career into the now traditional good Smiths (asexual), and bad solo (homoerotic).
To see Morrissey embrace the far right so openly was shocking. But was it surprising? Ever since the early 90s, he has flirted with the far right and fascist imagery – wrapping himself up in the union jack, writing a song called The National Front Disco, making inflammatory comments about immigration… I have to admit, not even a date in the high court, nor accusations of having a “schoolgirl giggle” have put me off listening to the Smiths… although his solo stuff feels too toxic for me to go near… (Tim Jonze, the Guardian, 30 May 2019)
David Stubbs – who wrote a homophobic ‘satire’ about Morrissey in the Quietus – called him the ‘stuff of disease‘:
Sadly, he still has an ultra-loyal phalanx of fans, for whom the word “thickness” certainly does not apply to their skins, who insist that the “real bigots” are Morrissey’s critics demonstrating their “narrow-mindedness”. Like their idol, they view of all of this as random persecution, in which they take a simple, indignant pleasure… Many profess to have no interest in his political views, regarding him solely as a musical content provider, a beat maker, a purveyor of vocals. This is bollocks, of course; they’re clearly hugely invested in him. In any case, if you’re capable of blithely setting aside his views, then there’s something badly missing in you. Morrissey has long since ceased to be worthy of cultural assessment; he no longer deserves to be part of that conversation. He has come to represent, along with the likes of Farage, Waters and Robinson, something nasty, reactionary and dangerous in our culture, a poisonous voice at this critical point in Britain’s island history. Something has hardened like a tumour inside him over the years; what was once whimsical, amusing, pop-culturally apposite, is now the stuff of disease. ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Any More’, isn’t funny any more. He’s not rarified; far too many people think and feel the way he does. And they’re making less and less of a secret of it. It’s frightening. And so, it’s come to this; with apologies to The Specials, if you have a Morrissey-loving friend, now is the time, now is the time, for your friendship to end. (David Stubbs, the Quietus, July 2019)
Morrissey tried to push back – but by this time his mother was dying, and his own mental and physical health had taken a severe hit:
Given the inexhaustible Hate Campaign executed against me by The Guardian and their followers, I am pleased with the UK chart position for “California son”. BUT WHO WILL GUARD US FROM THE GUARDIAN? No one, it seems. It is worth noting that their chief antagonist in this Hate Campaign is someone I took to court some years ago for writing lies about me. He lost his court battle then, and now he’s seeking his personal revenge by using The Guardian, who have been harassing everyone and anyone connected with my music imploring them to say something terrible about me for print… It is the voice of all that is wrong and sad about modern Britain. (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 31 May 2019)
Billy Bragg – who uses LGBT+ activism to promote his career, but who joined in with the NME’s homophobia in 1992 – also kept attacking him:
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)
Tony Fletcher, who doesn’t seem to know anything about the black writers who have inspired Morrissey’s writing – James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou – urged people read about the blackness in the music of the Smiths (all white, all straight, apart from “the bad one“) in his Smiths book – but shun Morrissey’s current work – made with his Latino bandmates, Jessie Tobias, Mando Lopez and Gustavo Manzur, and including his (then) recent duet with Thelma Houston:
‘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, his blog, 2020)
Similarly the Quietus called Morrissey’s mostly Mexican band, ‘white-ish’ and their Latino sound, ‘stinking.. trumpets of Old Albion’ and ‘crappy Britain‘.
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, Hot Press, 20th August 2014)
Because of the press, another ex-fan thinks that Morrissey – an Irish Catholic, ‘humasexual’, immigrant – is a homophobic English ethno-nationalist.
Only recently did I learn that shirtlifter was once a British slur for gay men; the phrase “Shoplifters of the World Unite” may be Morrissey’s play on words… Morrissey lamented the impact of immigration on his homeland: “England is a memory now,” he said… He spoke of how the Chinese could be a “subspecies,” … revisiting his lyrics, I began to find them more vituperative, less empathetic than I’d recalled. A song’s narrator would be woefully misunderstood, but that was because he was surrounded by the dim-witted and distinctly othered: women buck-toothed and monstrous; gay pederasts; Bengalis who don’t belong… I’m not sure there’s a place for (mixed-race, faggoty) me in that mythical past. (Jeremy Atherton Lin, the Yale Review, Spring 2021)
And the NME continues to exclude Morrissey from his own work – refusing to name him when praising the Smiths.
Echoes of the Manchester greats appear throughout ‘Ribbon Around The Bomb’ – namely those of The Smiths. Shimmering, Johnny Marr-style guitars appear liberally on the likes of ‘Born Wild’, a track that also employs haunting ‘Strangeways Here We Come’-era vocal lines as Ogden delivers some of his best, most revealing lyricism to date… (Rhys Buchanan, NME, 8th April 2022)
Naming him to underline that no one decent should ever want to be associated with him.
“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)
The vast bulk of the interview (in the audio version, released later) is about animals & music. His main political purpose is getting abattoirs banned – ‘I reserve my vote for the political party that will get rid of the abattoir’. He doesn’t like a generic commercial pop sound – ‘When you hear the radio, because everybody sounds the same, and they use the same, uhh, uhh, counterfeit emotions and they don’t have a natural voice, you don’t know who you’re listening to’.
In the version of it published on the 18th November 2017, most of it is cut, and a social/media firestorm accused him of threatening to kill Trump, being a rape apologist for Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, loving Brexit, and hating refugees.
The Trump comment was hypothetical.
JL – I was taught, like, I’m not supposed to ask about politics, but some songs I like because, I want to talk about a few songs… like if you actually stay in bed a lot and if you actually think people shouldn’t follow the news anymore?
Morrissey – I believe they must not. For their own mental health, they must not, they must stop watching the news, because it’s, social engineering to a degree, whereby it’s only about control. It’s not about information. It is not the news. It’s about control and people no longer watch.
JL – For me personally, as I work as a journalist, I’m really tired, like even in Germany, you read about Trump every day, like every fucking day, and I feel like that’s what made him big.
Morrissey – He received so much attention, so much attention, whereas other candidates like Bernie Sanders and so on, did not…. all people had in their minds was Trump, Trump, Trump, making America great again, which is absurd.
JL – if, a moral question, if there was a button and if you press it, he drops dead, would you press it or not?
Morrissey – I would for the safety of the human race. It’s nothing to do with my personal opinion of his face, or his life, or his family, but in the interests of the human race, if I would, yes. I think he’s a terrible, terrible scourge and as I say, he’s the biggest threat to national security in America, consequently to the rest of the world.
JL – Yeah, like in Germany cos there were two things like, watching the news, we saw it wouldn’t happen, like one was like Trump, and the other was like Brexit. But like you’re said to be pro-Brexit. Is it true?
Morrissey – Well, it isn’t true. I was fascinated by the Brexit result because it was such an incredible strike for Democracy. The people said yes, even though Westminster said no, and the political elite and the establishment said no, no, no, we will remain with the EU. The public ignored the media, ignored all the hypnosis, ignored all the fear- mongering, and they said we will decide for ourselves, and this is why Brexit is very, very important, because it’s the biggest strike in the history of British politics for many, many years, whether you agree with Brexit or not, is a separate issue, but I was very, very proud of the people of England for ignoring the BBC, ignoring Sky News who were fear-mongering and telling everybody if we leave the EU will will all die instantly. I’m not kidding. That’s what was happening. So I felt very proud of the people. I felt very proud.
JL – I read some reviews that said that Jackie, the song, is like pro-Brexit, this it is the Union Jack.
Morrissey – Well, this is the silliness that one has to put up with.
The conversation about rape was more complex – he didn’t talk about Harvey Weinstein at all – and he wasn’t defending Kevin Spacey, so much as saying the version of the story he’d heard, didn’t sound true (to him) – which, in fact, it wasn’t (he gets the details wrong).
JL: as we’re in Hollywood, did you follow the whole scandal that came now with, like, Weinstein and Me Too and all those things.
Morrissey: uhh, to a point I did, but then it became uhh theatre and suddenly everybody’s guilty. Suddenly anybody who has ever said to another person “I quite like you”, suddenly they’re being accused of sexual harassment. But you have to keep it in perspective, because if you can’t say to somebody that you like them, then how will they ever know? But of course there are extreme cases and rape is revolting and any kind of physical attack is revolting. But we must keep it in perspective otherwise everybody on the planet is guilty. And everything. And we can’t constantly have this superior attitude about what you should do and what you are not allowed to do. Because then we’re all trapped, we can’t relax. And some people are very clumsy when it comes to romance and if they meet somebody, they’re very awkward, and they don’t know how to do it really and how to let someone know. So it can sometimes seem aggressive.
JL: If I like someone I ignore them for like 5 years.
Morrissey: Typical, that’s a typical response. And it’s dangerous, because it’s a waste of five years. But that’s, many people do that or if they see somebody they like they look away. Ridiculous. Ridiculous.
JL: What do you think that they cut Kevin Spacey out of films now?
Morrissey: I think it’s absurd because uhh, as far as I understand the situation, he was in a hotel room with a 14 year old. Well, Kevin Spacey was 26, the boy was 14, you have to wonder where the boy’s parents were. You have to assume that the boy had an inkling of what might possibly happen. I mean I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been, in my youth, in situations like that. Never. And I was always aware of how, where things could go. And if you’re in somebody’s bedroom, you have to be aware, where it could lead to, and you have to say why, why are we here, why aren’t we downstairs in the lobby… so it doesn’t quite ring true to me and it seems that he has been unnecessarily attacked.
JL: yeah, I’m also thinking about this whole thing with actresses. [in the printed version they lie about the question – SPIEGEL: Should that also apply to the actresses who went to the hotel room with Weinstein? – and make his answer appear to be about Weinstein’s victims, when it’s a general comment].
Morrissey: And you also must wonder if, people know exactly what’s happening and they go along with it. But then when it’s happened they find that they’re either embarrassed or they didn’t like it, so they then reverse it, and say I was ambushed, I was taken by surprise, I was dragged into the room. But if the incident had gone very well and they had really enjoyed it and it led to an incredible career, they wouldn’t mention it. And I hate to be that cynical because I hate rape and I hate attack, and I hate any sexual situation that is forced on a person against their will. But in many many situations you look at the circumstances and you think that the person who is called a victim is merely disappointed.
JL: Yeah, I think it’s important to, like keep justify up, that it’s still fair for everybody.
Morrissey: But also within the history of music and rock n roll, this entire history of groupies and people who throw, kids, that throw themselves at groups and stay in a hotel for the night, in the lobby, they want to be with those groups. And if you go through the history of music, everybody must be guilty of underage sex. So are you going to throw everybody in prison?
JL: Yeah, David Bowie, like, took the virginity of a 14 year old girl.
Morrissey: Yes, I think that was very common then.
JL: Did you ever have been in a situation like that?
JL: Not even from your, older people?
Morrissey: No. Never. Never. Never.
And – he doesn’t attack refugees. He doesn’t say immigration should be stopped. Or that refugees are rapists. Or any of the ‘inflammatory’ things that the press and social media (for and against) attributed to him. He just thinks that countries should have an identity, Empires are bad and that policies shouldn’t cause chaos.
JL – Do you think that provocation is an important part of such, of your art?
Morrissey – Provocation? Well, uhh, what is provocation? Is it stimulation?
JL – Like, em, I might be wrong but I think that, like you, of course you give your opinion about things, but I think sometime, you also, like I get the feeling, if the society says like this is good, or is it like you know there’s said things, I think like sometimes there’s a feeling you, like not fight against that, but say things in a way to make them think again, you know what I mean?
Morrissey – Yes, because we must open debate, whether it’s religion, and this goes back to the point you made about boycotting Israel, and so forth, there’ no point being like that. You have to sit together and listen to people and exchange ideas about every problem on the planet. You can’t simply say everything is black and white, I don’t want to listen to you, you don’t agree with me, so therefore you’re wrong. And that is the problem with most of the British press, that they, they, they will happily speak to you, but when the interview is in print, they correct your moral outlook. Which is no good, because that’s my moral outlook. And you came to see me, and you asked me, and I told you. But you can’t simply say that you’re wrong because you don’t feel the way I do. So provocation is too strong a word, but I do like to put the issue on the table.
JL – I wanted to ask you what is the last lie somebody taught about you, do you remember that?
Morrissey – Well, yes, this issue about I’ve written a song about Brexit. And isn’t this appalling and you shouldn’t do this, it really bleugh. This is absurd. The British press are very much like that, you can’t meet them halfway, they’re, it’s the looney left really, who are so extreme, and they have become like the third reich. They will not be swayed. And you cannot have an open opinion or a different opinion and it’s very, very boring, and it’s quite dangerous. But to hear that I’ve written a song about Brexit, and I’m demanding that everybody support Brexit. It’s exhausting. It’s very exhausting.
JL – Do you know Owen Jones, he is like…
Morrissey – I know of him, yes, yes. But people have become obsessed with where they stand politically and it’s usually very closed, in their mind, very very closed. Whether it’s right-wing or left-wing. But I don’t consider myself to be political, I’m apolitical. But I am a human being, living in the world today, and everything we do has a connection to politics. But I have never voted for any political party. I think Theresa May is absurd. I think Donald Trump is absurd.
JL – But you just have to look at their faces. Like, no, no not, on a superficial, but like people like, what they look like and who they are, are connected. Not like that ugly people are bad and beautiful people, like – look at anyone for Trump. But, em, it looks like a cartoon. If you took the villains from a cartoon.
Morrissey – there’s no sense of leadership…
JL – Anything that’s important to mention or what you would like your German audience to know?
Morrissey – Well, ummm, every second I’ve ever spent in Germany, I, I, I, I feel very privileged. I really do. I think it’s so exciting. And it’s been a great friend to me. I mean, I might not be too excited about that European Union, but that doesn’t matter, that really doesn’t matter, that much. I don’t want to be a part of the German Empire. I don’t think England should be a part of the German Empire, which is essentially what the EU is.
JL – It’s a, do you think so? It’s a German Empire?
Morrissey – I think so. Yes. I think a lot of people feel that way. Perhaps that’s why people voted to leave the EU.
JL – But why do people think that?
Morrissey – Because England can’t make any decisions for itself unless it refers to Germany and that’s absurd. No country should be like that.
JL – Angela Merkel’s a Mum of Europe.
Morrissey – But she wisely doesn’t say that much, she keeps very quiet, and uhhh, which is interesting. But I, I feel sad that Germany had to become the rape capital of Europe, which I think is shocking.
JL – the what capital?
Morrissey – Rape capital.
JL – is it, right?
Morrissey – Yes, yes, statistically yes. And it coincides with the, the open borders and the free flow, which is very, very shocking. And a lot of people do think that was a mistake of Angela Merkel. That she initially said, ‘oh, yes, yes, come, everybody, come, wherever you are, whoever you are, come. And then she’s saying, ‘oh, well, whoops, whoops, maybe not’. But, em, so. [in the printed version they put Berlin instead of Germany – and because of open borders, instead of coincides]
JL – So you’re against taking refugees in or are you just saying this should be really controlled or…
Morrissey – Well, it’s a question of multiculturalism and I like Germany to be German, I like France to be French. And I think that when you try to have, um, introduced a multicultural aspect to everything you end up with no culture because you don’t share any language, you don’t share any laws, you don’t share the same sense of liberty. So multiculturalism fails. And all European countries fought for many many years for their identity. And now it suddenly seems to be, they’re saying so what, let’s just throw it away. Anybody can do what they like to Germany, anybody can do what they like to France, and I think that’s quite sad. Because it you travel, if you go on holidays, for example, to Turkey, you want a particular experience. But if you go to Turkey and everybody in the country is speaking, uhhh, Spanish, you think, well this is very strange. So this applies also to England, to Germany, to France. If you arrive in France and everybody is speaking a non-French language it’s very peculiar.
JL – But isn’t America a bit like that? Where it’s like, people coming from all over, or is it different because it’s newly… you know what I thought about , when I went through LA yesterday, for the first time, in a certain way, I felt that you can feel it’s stolen land. In certain way, because, you know, it’s like in Europe, it’s kind of like, things grew. You know, it’s like, and you feel it like, it almost looks like garages, like a lot of fancy garages, and I had this real idea of wonder at what would have happened if the native Americans had time to develop, like high culture. Just thought, another thinking about that. Maybe, it’s stupid.
Morrissey – Well, it felt stupid, but you must remember also that every single country has a, it’s own history of uhh, revolution, and liberation, and so forth. And other countries don’t have your history. So it’s, uhh, it’s not easy to blend, uhh, people together and just assume that they will get on, and understand the same things, it can’t happen. People might, uhh, travel and migrate, but they bring all of their, uhhh, they bring all of their religion, and all of their beliefs with them. And they try to establish it in the country they’ve gone to, and that’s when the confusion starts.
JL – So you’re just saying, like, everybody should stay where they are?
Morrissey – No! I don’t think that! You stay where you are? Stop it! No, but I think it’s important for every country to retain the identity that it has, because it didn’t come easy. Millions of people died for the German identity, millions of people died for the British identity. And if you respect all those people, the loss of their lives, then you must protect your own country to a great extent. You cannot say that the identity of your country is nothing. You cannot say that. And that seems to be happening throughout Europe.
JL – I’m very German, unfortunately.
Morrissey – Please be proud, please be proud, please be proud.
On the 11th of December he posted a statement on Facebook, objecting to the way his words had been sensationalised and editorialised:
He’s telling the truth – he didn’t say he would literally kill Trump, he wouldn’t support rape, child abuse, or sexual assault, Der Speigal didn’t convey his views fairly and (so far) he has never spoken to the print media (I hope he walks back on this – they have nothing to lose by monstering him if he would never speak to them anyway, and young journalists only know the myth, which his blog, (run by his nephew) wittingly or unwittingly, reinforces.
Der Spiegel released the audio, timestamping the most controversial passages, so that most people would miss the wider context. He had talked about Trump, migration and Spacey and that was enough for everyone to declare that he had been caught lying.
He released a video statement on his nephew’s YouTube account, on the 17th 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 would only get worse, as the old press homophobia that had seen him falsely accused of racism, crashed into the online tribal ‘culture wars’ where everyone had to use the same words in the same way to express the same ideas or they were ‘THE OTHER SIDE’.
Side Note: Almost all of Morrissey’s opinions are left-leaning – although he’s too much of a loner for organised politics. He could be used as a bellweather, since everything he picks up on turns into an urgent debate further down the line, viz.
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) https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2018/11/the-left-case-against-open-borders/
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) https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/17/proud-to-be-english-how-we-can-shape-a-progressive-patriotism
… 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 July 1986, in an interview on Canadian radio, Morrissey explained that he thought the Smiths were being excluded by the broadcasting establishment, and that the line ‘hang the DJ’, in the song, ‘Panic’, was about UK radio DJs.
I notice, and I’m sure it’s not an accident, that as the times that we live in become more serious and more critical, popular music, which is such a ferociously fierce and strong art form, goes further and further away from reality. And I almost feel, that it’s almost a political thing. That is, there’s a whitewash occuring, that the nonsensical and useless bland artists are being pushed forward and we’re being force fed. And any groups who dare to confront very real issues, in a very realistic way, are silenced, are gagged. So this is something that we constantly have to fight against. I mean, the Smiths, in England have had 10 consecutive hit singles, and we’ve had huge LPs, and yet, we still are never played on national daytime radio. They will not play the Smiths. I mean, even this week, today, we were the highest new entry in the top 100 with a new single called, Panic, came in at number 18, and they won’t play it. So what can you do? You have to suspect that there’s some, um, fierce political, um, canoodlings occurring… Hang the DJ is a recurring line in the new single, Panic, and once again, as ever, we’re finding problems. I can’t think why, but, um, as I say, this single, Panic, has entered really highly and they won’t play it, because of this line, ‘hang the DJ’. They say it’s offensive. I can’t really imagine why, because when we sing ‘hang the DJ’ live people are ecstatic. This is what they want, to get rid of all these old, boring, middle-aged non-entities, these mediocre people, who are all really controlling the airwaves, and, uh, 50% of the daytime disc jockeys in England are absolutely detested by the people in England. They hate them, and yet here they are controlling our, um, our earlobes, practically. So I’m all for hanging certain DJs. So, watch out. (Morrissey, CHRW London Canada, 29 July 1986)
Less than 2 months later, in September 1986, he was branded a racist for an interview in the Melody Maker, in which the interviewer, Frank Owen, framed his questions using a racist theory that music was divided into warring factions: Indie, which was ‘intelligent’, and made by white people. And Black Pop, which was ‘crude showbiz’, and associated with black people. He also cheerfully opined that ‘Panic’ was about hanging Black DJs. https://illnessasart.com/2020/03/03/melody-maker-27-september-1986/
It’s not clear if Morrissey understood the theory, or was taking it seriously, and most of the interview was puriently homophobic, and angled to push him into coming out as gay, which he later found distressing.
As written, it’s also not clear, what was asked or what order. It appears to start with, ‘so, is the music of The Smiths and their ilk racist, as Green claims?’ (Green Gartside was the lead singer of Scritti Politti.)
“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.”
‘Vile’ is hyperbole and Morrissey was airily scathing about nearly everything.
Frank countered that Black music is more subtle because it works on the body via the dancefloor. Morrissey was unconvinced.
“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.”
‘By law’ is a joke. He’d previously used it about himself.
Well, I wouldn’t stand on a table and shout, ‘I’m a feminist’ or put a red stamp across my forehead, butif 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 emblazoned across 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 Top of The Pops producer Michael Hurl, is not black.
It’s Frank who sums it up as a conspiracy by black artists to keep white people out of the charts, ‘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.’
Morrissey might be trying to fold in Frank’s words, but his suspicion hasn’t changed since the Canadian interview – he still thinks escapist music is promoted by the (straight, white, male) broadcasting establishment:
“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.”
It wasn’t an outlandish idea:
I remember John Peel saying he believed that if they played the music he played on mainstream radio, people would like it. And I remember thinking, ‘Stupid twat.’ But he was kind of right, if you take a jerky, quirky group like the Arctic Monkeys – that’s what happened. (Johnny Cigarettes, Record Collector, 29 March 2018) https://recordcollectormag.com/articles/bit-chinstroking
“It’s not just us”, says William. “It’s also people like New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Smiths. The Smiths have got a number two LP but you never hear The Smiths on the radio. Steve Wright said ‘people don’t want to listen to The Smiths in the afternoon’. That’s absolutely pathetic! How does he know? “The BBC is supposed to be a public company and we’re all supposed to have a share in it but it’s obviously a dictatorship and those people shouldn’t have that power”. (Jesus and Mary Chain, Smash Hits, July 1986)
Frank asks him if he finds Black music macho (tapping into a racist and a homophobic trope; black men as hyper virile, gay men as effete). Morrissey 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 the NME will accuse him of not wanting black people to prosper in the present, as if 1960s music wasn’t still being played). Morrissey jokes:
‘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 violence in Manchester and the lyrics of Never Had No One Ever. Morrissey explains they’re about feeling alienated because he’s Irish:
“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.”
Despite this – the interview was the basis for accusations that ‘Bengali In Platforms’, was telling people from South Asia that they don’t belong in the UK. And it gave the NME its excuse for the 1992 homophobic hit piece.
The Frank Owen interview 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 editorialised with 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:
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. (Morrissey, Autobiography, 2013)
When it was published, Morrissey was denounced as a racist, then defended, in letters pages and comment pieces. Johnny Marr was angry:
“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)
No one noticed, or was outraged, by Frank Owen’s racist framing or the homophobia.
Tony Fletcher in The Smiths, A Light That Never Goes Out (2012) condemned Morrissey for his ‘no sex’ agenda:
[Frank Owen] dared suggest in writing that in years to come, Morrissey would be into “fisting and water sports”… “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 to made it sound as if Panic was about a detestation of black modern music so strong that he couldn’t stop himself from harping on:
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 ascribes Frank’s comments about readers to ‘Morrissey’s thinking’, accepts the racist assumption that Black music is about the body, pretends that British youth didn’t dance before Rave, took ‘by law’ literally and thinks it’s ridiculous to say that escapist music gets more airplay than morose Indie music.
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 suspectthat 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. While, Frank himself is still blind to the racist assumptions that shaped his division of pop into Black and Indie and thinks Morrissey 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.”
28 years later it was the material for a grimly racist and homophobic ‘satire’ by David Stubbs in the Quietus:
…an unspoken racism meant that it was hard for those whose skin was not disco-coloured to get booked on the programme. So, Norrissey hatched a plan. He and the band turned up at the BBC studios one Thursday evening in Afro wigs, their skins applied with burnt cork, minstrel-style. “Hi!” they said, jively, to the man at the door, waving their hands in the sort of way that makes some wonder if Britain is Britain any more. “The name of this here group of ours is The Blackfaces and we’re here to play our new single ‘Strut Your Superficial Stuff’.” Naturally, they were immediately allowed on the show… Then came the moment of revelation, as the “Blackfaces” stopped playing, and rubbed away the dark cork on their faces… this had been the only way a white English group could be smuggled onto Top Of The Pops in the 1980s. They had paved the way so that other white English groups might follow, without wigs or make-up. A black day of the sort they weren’t used to for disco musicians but a breakthrough for England! (David Stubbs, the Quietus, 6 January 2014)
David’s confirmation bias is so strong that he insinuates Morrissey is a racist for comparing Depeche Mode unfavourably to Barry White, and compared him to Donald Trump for using the words ‘no justice’, in a review written to champion his best friend, Linder Sterling’s unsuccessful band, Ludus.
In June 2018 music journalist Pete Paphides, gutted the interview to claim that Morrissey had ‘always’ been repugnant.
And accused Morrissey of ‘trolling’ for using the Attack reggae label in 2004 – nearly 18 years after the Frank Owen interview, and 12 years after Morrissey was accused of racism for holding a Union Jack for less than 3 minutes in front of a crowd who heckled that he was a “poofy bastard“.
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.
David Quantick thinks that what Morrissey was and continues to be, is scum. And dates it from the Frank Owen interview.
Panic on the streets of London Panic on the streets of Birmingham I wonder to myself Could life ever be sane again? The Leeds side-streets that you slip down I wonder to myself Hopes may rise on the Grasmere But honey pie, you’re not safe here So you run down to the safety of the town But there’s panic on the streets of Carlisle Dublin, Dundee, Humberside I wonder to myself Burn down the disco Hang the blessed DJ Because the music that they constantly play It says nothing to me about my life Hang the blessed DJ Because the music they constantly play On the Leeds side-streets that you slip down Provincial towns you jog ’round Hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ Hang the DJ….
Side Note: The manufactured and imposed division between Indie and Black music was dubbed the hip-hop wars and played out for most the 1980s and early 1990s.
The hip hop wars was just something internal to NME, it really had little relevance to the scene itself… At NME you had a camp of diehard indie supporters on the staff, editors and writers who wanted to put The Go Betweens and The Shop Assistants on the cover. And there was a very vociferous, ideologically determined camp of “soul boys”—also editors and writers–who thought that only black music was valid, relevant, and progressive. They were very scornful of indie music and regarded it as retrogressive, even crypto-racist in so far as it didn’t engage with black culture. But to me the irony was that your indie fans, tending to be college educated, were more likely to have anti-racist, left-wing, progressive beliefs and attitudes than many of the white fans of black pop. It’s just that rap and R&B didn’t speak to them, it didn’t describe their lives. Being middle class, bookish, shy types, they didn’t like the overt sexuality, the materialism, and in rap’s case, the sexism… The indie faction at NME were more in touch with the magazine’s readership, but they didn’t have the strong ideological drive and discipline of the black music faction, so the latter were able to dominate the paper for a while. But eventually they were all ousted, probably I suspect because the owners of NME could see that pushing hip hop through front covers would alienate the readership and lose sales. At Melody Maker we just loved the fact that NME was tearing itself apart. (Mario Lopes, Publico, 11 July 2014) http://reynoldsretro.blogspot.com/2014/11/c86-and-all-that.html
Side Note 2: In 1990, as reported in the Melody Maker, a group of Black American DJs were told how to do ‘dance music’ by Tony Wilson and Keith Allen. Despite the DJs walking out in disgust, neither suffered any career consequences.
Derrick May has had enough: ‘Ma-a-a-n,’ he says, ‘let me tell ya something. Dance music has been fucked up… I have to sit back and see some bullshit Adamski shit… that’s bullshit. On the charts! Number F-ing One! Okay?’ Tony Wilson rises to the challenge: ‘I’m sure The Rolling Stones and The Beatles sounded pretty shitty to the real R&B people but without The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, you’d never have even known you had R&B in America.’ ‘Well I don’t know about that,’ says Derrick… ‘They say it’s not a dictatorship, but it is. We can’t do anything unless you tell us to as much as we try… We – and when I say we, I mean blacks – we all do something and you’ll come behind us and turn it around and add somebody singing to it or some sort of little funky-ass or weak-ass chord line or whatever and get some stupid record company that doesn’t know jack shit about shit to put £50,000 behind it and you got a fucking hit because you stuffed it down motherfuckers throats. So, this group, y’know, has tremendous success and I don’t know what to say, man. I’ve just been busting my ass, it comes from the heart y’know… we as black people have always had to deal with the fact that we’ve had to be better because, since the beginning of time, we’ve had to walk into a white person’s house and clean a white motherfucker’s ass, okay? So don’t tell me.’ This is too much for Keith Allen. He says: ‘Listen Derrick, I might have white skin but I’m black for fuck’s sake! Look at me Derrick – look at me – I’m black.’ Nathan McGough joins in… ‘The whole Ecstasy and House culture from 1988 was like year zero, Pol Pot. The same way as ’76 with the Pistols and anarchy, year zero…’ Derrick May responds… ‘Our DJs are technically better than yours.’ ‘Bullshit. Let’s talk about DJs, right?’ says Wilson… ‘Your Detroit DJs didn’t have one record that was made in the last fucking six months and they wouldn’t play one thing under 130 bpm. They’re all stick-in-the-muds and they should get themselves fucked.’ The insults are starting to fly thick and fast… Egged on by Derrick May, another guy gets up and says white folks think too much about it all while blacks just do it. From where I’m sitting, this sounds a tad close to the ol’ natural riddim argument. But May’s well into it. ‘Yeah,’ he shouts, ‘that’s also the reason why white people can’t play basketball.’ Keith Allen responds in kind; ‘Yeah, but that’s the reason why black Americans don’t ride horses. You’ve got to remember the reason that white guys don’t play basketball is the same reason black guys don’t ride horses.’ Marshall Jefferson gets up and walks out in disgust. (Steve Sutherland, Melody Maker, 4th August 1990) http://dewit.ca/archs/JD/New_York_Story.html
Morrissey blamed Tony Blair, the UK’s Prime Minister, and George W. Bush, the President of the United States of America.
If not for Tony Blair’s self-interests, the people who were blown to pieces on London’s transport system that July morning would more than likely still be amongst the living. Although Bush and Blair collectively made the world a more dangerous place, neither of them, then or now, leads an unprotected life and neither is susceptible to the dangers… (Morrissey, Autobiography, Penguin, 2013)
And claimed, to have been investigated by the intelligence services in the UK and the USA becuase he had denounced the war in Iraq, and wished that Bush had died instead of ex-President Reagan.
The former lead singer of the Smiths tells British music paper NME that he believed he had been interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and British intelligence agents because he was deemed a threat for speaking his mind. “They were trying to determine if I was a threat to the government, and similarly in England,” NME quotes the 46-year-old singer as saying. “But it didn’t take them very long to realize that I’m not.” In June 2004, Morrissey came under fire for interrupting a Dublin concert with news that former U.S. president Ronald Reagan had died, adding that he wished Bush had died instead. Months later, Morrissey urged U.S. voters to get rid of Bush, calling him a terrorist and adding that he “single-handedly turned the United States into the most neurotic and terror-obsessed country on the planet.” (Billboard, 26 February 2006) https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/59579/morrissey-claims-investigation-by-us-uk-intelligence/
In 2008, he wanted to tour Iran because he admired Arab pop star Kazem al-Sahir.
Heaven knows I’m Muslim now, Morrissey lines up Iran gig: Never mind the fundamentalists, here’s Morrissey. The rock singer is planning to play a concert in Iran as his contribution to the international healing process. The singer, whose songs include Bigmouth Strikes Again and Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, is in talks with the Iranian government and the Foreign Office about staging a performance in Tehran later this year. (Maurice Chittenden, the Sunday Times, 3 February 2008) https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/heaven-knows-im-muslim-now-morrissey-lines-up-iran-gig-pw809hlmjjw
The former Smiths frontman hopes to appear onstage with acclaimed Arabian pop singer Kazem Al Sahir, one of the star’s professed heroes, and is currently in talks with the Iranian government to play a gig there later this year. (Irish Examiner, 8 January 2008) https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/arid-30343497.html
On the 7th January 2015, 12 people were killed by Islamists targeting the left-wing satire magazine, Charlie Hebdo, for blasphemy, and a Jewish supermarket, for Jewishness. Morrissey didn’t say anything. But later his Je Suis Morrissey t-shirts, circa 2004-09, were erroneously linked to the free speech debate that had been symbolised in the solidarity slogan Je suis Charlie. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30708237
Charlie Hebdo’s former offices are located in a liberal neighbourhood of Paris, where nobody disputes the necessity to protect freedom of expression. But critics insist that one can be in favour of free speech without kowtowing to the “Je suis Charlie” mantra. (Mehdi Chebil, France 24, 4 January 2018)
Sporting a “Je Suis Morrissey” t-shirt, he deems himself a bastion for free speech while calling for a ban on Eid celebrations in the UK. (Darya Rustamova, Mangal Media, 25 May 2019)
On the 13th November 2015, 130 people were murdered, most of them in the Bataclan music venue, by Islamic State. The motivation of Islamic State seemed to be more about killing unbelievers than freedom fighting. Their vision of an Islamic Caliphate was Imperial, supremacist and genocidal. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34827497
I couldn’t go through a Harvest Records situation again — they almost killed me, and probably regret that they didn’t. I find that if you are a genuine artist in 2016 you must look after yourself, but if you are trivial and fluffy then a label will hype you and help you and buy Paid Content space on online news pages to make you appear important. I paddle my own canoe. (Morrissey, News Com Au, 3 August 2016)
A year later, on the 12th June 2016, 49 people were killed at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, by Omar Mateen. In a call to the police just before the massacre, Mateen, had pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Morrissey was angry at Donald Trump, heterosexuality & guns. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-36511778
Hate-rosexuality: although the gunman who massacred 49 people at an Orlando gay club is said to have been ‘repulsed’ by homosexuality, he nonetheless left behind a slew of self-adoring ‘selfies’; a handsome man gazing enchantedly at his own face. It is therefore acceptable for him to lovingly admire his own maleness, but it is not OK for other men to like other men. Does Islamic scripture say it is fitting for a man to sit alone taking adoring photographs of himself? I doubt it. Meanwhile, Donald Thump, probably America’s next President, reacts to the Orlando massacre by explaining how, if the people within the club were themselves armed with guns, then there would have been fewer casualties. This, of course, is his way of avoiding any words of support to the Orlando gay community (it is their own fault for going into a nightclub without hand grenades). Donald Thump would therefore probably claim that the massacred children of Sandy Hook would still be alive today if only they’d had the common sense to carry sawn-off shotguns to school. The Thump response to Orlando is therefore anti-gay and pro-gun possession. Ann Coulter will be waving her baseball cap and cheering. It’s all going so well for America! Unfortunately, CNN obliged the gunman once again with a flashing flood of publicity – which is all he ever wanted, and which will encourage the next shooter to prepare for international fame. Why show the gunman’s face? Nobody needs to see it. (Morrissey, True To You, June 2016)
In August that year, Morrissey was denounced as a racist for mentioning Nigel Farage, leader of hard right UK independence party UKIP in the same sentence as hard left, pro-Islam, Iranian and Russian state media employee, and politician George Galloway, and for complaining that London mayor Sadiq Khan eats Halal butchered beings (he had spoken in favour of halal meat) and talks too fast (Khan is a Londoner, with a London accent, Morrissey has never said anything that would relate his voice to his religion or ethnic heritage).
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. (Morrissey, News Com Au, 3 April 2016)
Chicken Cottage is a British product that is doing a fantastic amount in our country…over the last period Chicken Cottage has created 1,000 new jobs in our country, added £50m to the UK’s GDD and over the next five years will be creating 400 new jobs as well… And here’s the beautiful thing. This is a British product…selling Islamic products, selling halal products…that is niche and general but it’s gone mainstream… When Chicken Cottage started in 1994, the aim was to be as excellent, or as good as, the market leaders…now, the aim is to be the best in its own right, and now the market leaders are Chicken Cottage… long may you have a prosperous future! (Sadiq Khan, Chicken Cottage Award Ceremony, 22 May 2012)
Morrissey had a statement about it posted on Facebook in which he blames the authorities – politicians, the Queen, Islamic State – Theresa May’s immigration policy and complained about inexact language.
Theresa May’s immigration policy was the Hostile Environment. He’d previously complained about George Bush’s immigration policy being too harsh, and immigration officials in Australia being rude. And would go on to accuse May of turning the UK into an international target. So it’s likely that he thought the Hostile Environment was antagonising people into becoming terrorists. And he’d previously explained that he believed inexact language meant governments intended to do nothing about a situation.
With all my heart I urge people to vote against George Bush. Jon Stewart would be ideal, but John Kerry is the logical and sane move. It does not need to be said yet again, but Bush has single-handedly turned the United States into the most neurotic and terror-obsessed country on the planet. For non-Americans, the United States is suddenly not a very nice place to visit because US immigration officers – under the rules of Bush – now conduct themselves with all the charm and unanswerable indignation of Hitler’s SS. Please bring sanity and intelligence back to the United States. Don’t forget to vote. Vote for John Kerry and get rid of George Bush! (Morrissey, True to You, 28th? October 2004)
It doesn’t take much to be thrown into a cell at LAX! You will notice that the Immigration Officers are persistently ordering you to ‘stand there’, which is a test to see if you will bow to their orders… they can be as illegal as they wish. Incidentally, when I arrived in Sydney last year the officer at Passport Control did her best to insult me and to cause a scene when there was no need… They use the ISIS issue as an excuse to denigrate everyone, and they absolutely love it. (Morrissey, News Com Au, 3 August 2016)
I despise racism. I despise fascism. I would do anything for my Muslim friends and I know they would do anything for me…Theresa May’s policies have turned Britain into a international target… (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, April 2018)
But increasingly we see how civilian murders don’t actually matter at all with governments. The recent Malaysian plane attack is a perfect example. In the first few days the media referred to it as an attack, and then suddenly it became a disaster. By ‘disaster’ they were telling us that nothing would be done about it, as if it were a flood or something. We all see how civilian deaths do not register with world leaders unless a loss of oil or gas is involved… (Morrissey, Vegan Logic, 5 September 2014)
It’s also, worth remembering that one of his closest friends, a woman he considered having a child with, Tina Dehghani, is from Iran.
He was immediately accused of blaming all muslims and all non-white immigrants, and denounced as a racist.
Perhaps the final straw was his reaction to the terrorist murders at Manchester’s MEN Arena. Transparently Islamophobic, and published at a time of heightened community tensions, it was unforgivable. ‘In modern Britain everyone seems petrified to officially say what we all say in private,’ he dog-whistled. (Michael Calderbank, Red Pepper, 2 December 2017)
Northern Irish comedian, Michael Legge, who once wrote an article that could be paraphrased into “Muslims are fucking nutters who should be put in asylums before they bomb us” (and if Morrissey wrote it, that’s exactly how it would have been paraphrased) posted abuse on Facebook and then spent years calling Morrissey fans racists on Twitter.*
Just like Moses and Allah and Thor and Spock never existed. The very fact that in 2008 this STILL has to be pointed out to people is terrifying to me. We wait until unspeakable horror happens, like a bomb going off, before we arrest people who are doing things in the name of their god but why? Why wait. Anyone going to any church, synagogue, mosque or Games Workshop should be immediately arrested for living inside a daydream. At the very least put the fucking nutters in an asylum. (Michael Legge, his blog, 29 November 2008) http://michaelleggesblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/religion.html
*Maybe it’s the rawness of “the troubles” or embarrassment at his Irish background, but another Northern Irish arts/media worker, Guardian journalist, Eamonn Forde, has also been extensively using social media to “satirically” denounce him.
Talking about it, he said: “because I do look back in anger! I would have sang ‘World Peace Is None of Your Business’ or ‘Life is a Pigsty’ – or something truthful and meaningful. If my child had been killed at Manchester Arena I wouldn’t be lighting candles and swaying… I’d be in a complete rage.” (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 24 June 2019) https://www.morrisseycentral.com/messagesfrommorrissey/234417-the-interview
World Peace attacks governments:
World peace is none of your business You must not tamper with arrangements Work hard and sweetly pay your taxes Never asking what for Oh oh, you poor little fool, oh oh, you fool World peace is none of your business Police will stun you with their stun guns Or they’ll disable you with tasers That’s what Government’s for Oh oh, you poor little fool, oh oh, you fool World peace is none of your business So would you, kindly keep your nose out The rich must profit and get richer And the poor must stay poor Oh oh, you poor little fool, oh oh, you fool Each time you vote, you support the process Each time you vote, you support the process Each time you vote, you support the process Brazil, Bahrain, Egypt, Ukraine So many people in pain No more you poor little fools No more you fool
Life Is A Pigsty is about how disgusting life is, but we still fall in love.
It’s the same old S.O.S. But with brand new Broken fortunes, And once again I turn To you Once again, I do I turn to you It’s the same old S.O.S But with brand new Broken fortunes I’m the same Underneath But this, you You surely knew Life is a pigsty Life is a pigsty Life is a pigsty Life, life is a pigsty Life, life is a pigsty Life, life is a pigsty Life, life is a pigsty and if you don’t know this Then what do you know? Every second of my life I only live for you And you can shoot me And you can throw me off a train I still maintain I still maintain Life, life is a pigsty Life is a pigsty and I’ve been shifting gears all of my life But I’m still the same underneath And this you surely knew I can’t reach you I can’t reach you I can’t reach you anymore Can you please stop time? Can you stop the pain? I feel too cold And now I feel too warm again Can you stop this pain? Can you stop this pain? Even now in the final hour Of my life I’m falling in love again Again Again
World Peace, would likely have been seen as divisive.
And despite, knowing that Morrissey & Islam are in total agreement that eating pigs is a bad thing (for different reasons) – pig in a song title is likely to have been interpreted as a racist insult.
In April 2018, Morrissey was denounced as an Islamophobe and a racist for saying that Eid al-Adhar wasn’t joyous because animals are sacrificed for it – Qurbani is the tradition of sacrificing an animal for God – and for saying that Halal slaughter is evil, and certified by ISIS supporters (I take it he means only hardliners would want an animal’s throat cut, he has never elaborated).
Theresa May was always a Prime Minister uninvited. She is incapable of leadership. She cannot say her own name unless it’s written down on a cue card in front of her. I recall her speech on Eid al-Adhar, and how she referred to it as a ”joyous celebration” … as millions of animals had their throats slit to mark the occasion. I wondered what kind of compassion she could possibly have. The answer is none... If you have any concern for animal welfare, for example, you cannot possibly vote for either Conservatives or Labour, because both parties support halal slaughter, which, as we all know, is evil. Furthermore, halal slaughter requires certification that can only be given by supporters of ISIS, and yet in England we have halal meat served in hospitals and schools! UK law is pointless! … animals rights must come before religion. Religion must cease to be the ONLY word. I am not interested in what people did ten thousand years ago. I am concerned about what is happening today... I am not saying that stunned slaughter is acceptable, because it couldn’t ever be... I think the point is that we cease to put ourselves first. It is not about what we frivolously want. Every animal even during slaughter fights and kicks until its very last breath. It has one instinct and that is to survive. I stopped watching television because of animal death commercials. I couldn’t allow that into my living space for one more day. I feel liberated without it. They won’t show cigarette commercials but it’s OK to show butchered lambs? And to laugh about it? (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, April 2018)
In July-August 2018, he worked with Sameer Gadhia on California Son and went to see his band, Giant the Younger, in LA… just … just … magnificent. Catch them if you can. Sameer is the best singer in the world today. And yesterday. And tomorrow. (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 10 August 2019)
In April 2019, he was bewildered about why he was denounced as a racist and was blaming the meat industry as a whole for the world’s problems.
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… successive governments receive support and cash and sponsorship from pharmaceutical companies and farmers associations, so therefore governments are obliged to repay them. The idea, I think, is to keep people unwell, sick, or dying, and the best way to do this is to convince them that fat slices of sheeps faces are good for you. (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, April 2019)
As ever, it made no difference – everything he says is chopped up into tiny snippets, sometimes one word, sometimes an imagined word, and added to the canard that he’s a dangerous racist.
Once the torches are lit & the pitchforks are sharpened, it’s very hard to avoid being chased to the windmill.
On a Side Note: As the son of immigrants, Morrissey’s acutely aware of the identity crisis that comes from having two cultures. It’s one of the reasons he has a strong Chicano fanbase. Like him, they left their Catholic country (Mexico/Ireland) to live in a Protestant/Secular country (America/England) that often doesn’t acknowledge, like or understand them.
“my family has myriad tales of living in a golden Mexico during the 1940s and 1950s. Those stories helped foster a deep-seated melancholy within me about where I truly belong. Not quite American; not wholly Latino, living in all the spaces in between. Growing up in rural Ohio, these duelling identities caused me an incredible amount of angst, as I tried to traverse the space between home and school. It’s easy to see where so many of Morrissey’s songs that deal with identity crisis, with a sense of alienation, of being an “other”, would appeal to people such as me. Feeling ostracised, not part of a homogeneous American culture – that’s enough to make anyone morose and woebegone.” (March, 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/07/morrissey-popularity-mexicans-smiths-chicanos-california
“Morrissey’s ‘Irishness’ is partly contained in this idea of the ‘outsider’, a fascination with writers including Oscar Wilde, his black wit, and as he has says” – “Ireland has always been a very credible and very poetic place, with no-one under any illusions about themselves – we all end up in the same bucket etc.” (Siobhan Kane, Event Guide, August, 2006 – transcription by David Tsang, on Morrissey Solo, 24 August 2006) https://www.morrissey-solo.com/article.pl?sid=06/08/24/1713247
He wrote a song, In Mexico, 2004, about the border.
I went for a walk to inhale The tranquil, cool, lover’s air But I could taste a trace Of American chemical waste And the small voice said “What can we do?”In Mexico I went for a walk to inhale The tranquil, cool, lover’s air But I could sense the hate From the Lone Star state And a small voice said “What can we do?” It seems if you’re rich and you’re white You’ll be alright I just don’t see why This should be so If you’re rich and you’re white You’ll be alright I just don’t see why This should be so In Mexico I lay on the grass And I cried my heart out For want of my love Oh, for want of my love Oh, for want of my love It seems if you’re rich and you’re white You think you’re so right I just don’t see why This should be so If you’re rich and you’re white Then you’ll be OK I just don’t see why This should be soIn Mexico I lay on the grass And I cried my heart out For want of my love For want of my love For want of my love For want of my love
In July 2012, he told Israel’s channel 2 news that:
“There’s no point in punishing an entire nation for something its leader says or does.”
In his November 2017 interview with Der Spiegel he dismissed the idea of a cultural boycott, seemingly not previously aware of the BDS movement.
“It is narrow-minded. Being politically correct is incorrect. It means forbidding the freedom of speech. This is how the BDS movement sounds to me.”
“I love this city [Tel Aviv]. The rest of the world does not like Israel well. But the people there are very generous and friendly. You should never judge a people by their government. It is very rare for the government to reflect the wishes of the people.'”
His 2017 album, Low In High School, had 3 songs set in Israel.
The Girl From Tel Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel, which included a side-swipe at American intervention:
Of princes and kings and their costly parade Blitz them all back to the Stone Age The American way displayed proudly Is to show lots of teeth and talk loudly And the land weeps oil The land weeps oil What do you think all these armies are for? Just because the land weeps oil
When You Open Your Legs, in which the song’s narrator forgets everything because of sex:
4am and once again I am asked to leave this club in Tel Aviv It’s 4am and once again I am asked to leave this club in Tel Aviv, oh Everything I know deserts me now When you open your legs Everything I know deserts me now When you open…
& Israel, which mixes sex with religion, envy and threat.
Realize if you’re happy Jesus sends you straight to hell Israel Israel And should you dare, enjoy your body Here tolls Hades welcome bell Israel Israel You’ve found a middle course existance We’re all bones and flesh and shell Israel Israel I can’t answer for what armies do They are not you They are not you They are not you In other climes they bitch and whine Just because you’re not like them Israel Israel The sky is dark For many others They want it dark For you as well Israel Israel Earth is just one big asylum An explodes a prison cell See us squirm in our own damaged spell You were born As guilty sinners Before you stood up right, you fell Put the fear of many gods In Israel Nature gave you Every impulse Who are virgin priests to tell Who, how to love How to live Israel And they who reign, abuse, upon you Upon you They are jealous of you as well Love yourself As you should Israel
There’s nothing to suggest that it has anything to do with the conflict between Israel & Palestine.
Tel Aviv sells itself as one of the most gay friendly cities in the world.
If Morrissey was racist towards Muslims he’d hardly have Istanbul as one of his favourite cities.
I had a timid childhood. My past is also full of repression. I still do not know what it means to have fun and to enjoy physically. Istanbul has a feature that dissipates this mood and crisis. When you return to the British land, you are left with the same despair, it’s separate. This is the secret of Istanbul, the people of Istanbul: It is very alive, very real. This is also something I admire. I don’t see myself as a ‘living person’ as much as you do. I’m an extra head in the crowd, that’s all. (Morrissey, Hurriyet, 24 November 2014) https://www.hurriyet.com.tr/kelebek/hayat/morrissey-cinsel-hayatim-koca-bir-cahillikten-ibaret-27621773
And he felt his boycott of Canada was a failure.
My decision to return to Canada after almost 15 years of protest against its savage and Neanderthal annual Baby Seal Kill is entirely because my stance was ultimately of no use and helped no one. My voice was drowned out by the merciless swing of spiked axes crushing the heads of babies. (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, 20 September 2018)
Desite that, as usual, it was interpreted as genocidal, reactionary racism by the press.
…to argue that Israel is beset with ‘dark’ hostile forces seems to conflate the very existence of Arab and Muslim populations with the most extreme forms of Islamist ideology. The legitimate grounds for Palestinians to feel oppressed or denied justice by the Israeli state are conjured away, or represented as inherently life-denying forces… For Morrissey, the legitimate demands of Arab and Muslim opinion in the region are denied, and millions of people only represented as dark impersonal forces, motivated by hate and jealousy. It’s a deeply racist and reactionary line of thought. (Michael Calderbank, 2 December 2017) https://www.redpepper.org.uk/where-did-it-all-go-wrong-morrissey/
Two songs about sex & one about defying authority had to be about Zionism.
The Quietus review, bylined “Mr Agreeable”, said: “That’s opposition to Likud, Netanyahu kissing Trump’s arse, the f**king settlements programme, the f**king bulldozing of protesters, all sussed for what it really is — plain old green-eyed jealousy.” Guardian music critic Alexis Petridis also poured scorn on the notion. “Don’t worry, everyone, he’s got it all worked out: anyone who criticises Israel’s actions — say, the bulldozing of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories — is ‘jealous’.” Meanwhile Guardian TV critic Stuart Heritage asserted: “It has got to the point that just reading the track list of his new album — including song titles such as The Girl From Tel Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel and Israel — is enough to send your sphincter zooming up through your intestines and into your windpipe.” (Lee Harpin, Jewish Chronicle, 27 November 2017) https://www.thejc.com/news/uk/critics-attack-israel-in-morrissey-album-reviews-1.449077
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.” (Morrissey, The Times, November 2017)
He’s hyper-aware of the treatment of animals and is an avid PETA supporter.
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 – also misquoting it as Kentucky Fried Shit, connecting shit, as well as (in most people’s view) lower life-forms, to murdered children.
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.
When he was booked to play The Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Norway, in December 2013, there was an unsuccessful campaign to have him cancelled.
HP: Do you write when you’re happy/sad/drunk/sober or a combination of all four? Morrissey: I don’t say this for affect, but I’m never not sad… which is lovely grammar, I know… HP: 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? Morrissey: 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.” (Morrissey, Hot Press, August 2014)
On a Side Note: A Guardian ‘comedy’ article crassly ignored his history of mental illness & lumped 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 in order to associate him with racist terrorism.
“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?”
It was The Guardian turning into the internet troll. 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 – after an awkward interview with Dermot O’Leary on Radio 2, 30 April 2011, he said:
I’m sorry I made the Detergent 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. If my Front Row (Radio 4) interview sounded chopped and cropped, that’s because it was. I had spoken fluently about the royal dreading, but an Iranian censorship confiscated all of my views. It is distressing, but in all manner of British media in 2011 we are only allowed to hear the same old thoughts and feelings expressed over and over and over again. 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?? To top off all the pageantry, ‘Very best of Morrissey’ (EMI/Major Minor) has yet to tunnel its way into what we older types refer to as Record Shops – six days after intended release. The gallant HMV has yet to stock it, and did not manage to stock the ‘Glamorous glue’ single until four days after its scheduled release. In fact, the CD of ‘Glamorous glue’ did not EVER make it to HMV. With ‘Very best of’ I face my first ever non-chart placing – which I shall bear with dignity, although I could never be unkind enough to express my views on EMI’s failings. It was John Lennon who coined the phrase ‘Every Mistake Imaginable’. I shall not repeat it here. I am delighted that the June dates sold out so quickly. Beware, we are looking at four more: Copenhagen, Aarhus, Helsingborg and Stockholm. The follow-up to ‘Years of refusal’ is ready and fluttering wildly against the bars. There is still no record label and the years shuffle like cards. My talents do not lie in DIY. I shall be in Perth – older, but no wiser. (Morrissey, True to You, 30 April 2011)
I can still be surprised by bigotry, inaccuracy and smearing in the press – it’s stunning that in 2022, Dan Cairns, in the Sunday Times, can use Morrissey’s sexuality and martial status to negatively contrast him to married heterosexual, Johnny Marr.
While Marr has built a reputation as a modest and fundamentally decent man, still married to his childhood sweetheart, Angie, with whom he has two children, and still living in the Manchester area, his former bandmate has steadily dismantled his own reputation. Morrissey in 2022 cuts a sorry figure: a cantankerous, Los Angeles-based king across the water, and a self-described “humasexual”, his increasingly truculent and often borderline racist comments and postings have quashed, surely for ever, any hopes of a Smiths reunion. (Dan Cairns, the Sunday Times, February 2022)
They also deliberately lied that he was aligned with the far right – it’s been 3 years, there’s no justification for guilt by association on this scale.
I despise racism. I despise fascism. I would do anything for my Muslim friends and I knowthey would do anything for me… do not be influencedby the tyrannies of the MSM who will tell youthat 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, April 2018
.. she [AMW] 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… (Morrissey, June 2018)
for every shade and persuasion … we shall alwaysbe alongside each other – everyone’s culture of value;no more fashionable outrage; cows are friends tohumans – don’t kill them… (Morrissey, Central, May 2019)
I am not an activist, I have never voted for a political party, I do not belong to any political party… I do not believe the most important thing about a person is the colour of their skin. (Morrissey, Central, June 2019)
Even the basic facts are wrong. He hasn’t lived in LA for years. Or been celibate since the 1980s – when the press didn’t believe him anyway.
It’s also cruel and sick to relentlessly accuse Morrissey of “diatribes” and being “cantankerous”. He occasionally posts on his nephew’s website. He plays gigs. And he’s been seen in Manchester pubs. He hasn’t spoken to the press since 2017. And he has struggled with shyness and mental health issues his entire adult life.
Not to mention that Marr’s moral perfection has nothing to do with the Smiths getting back together. Morrissey has never wanted a reunion.
Side Note – the untrue racism allegations stem from a homophobic hit piece in the NME in 1992, after Morrissey was violently attacked by homophobes at a gig & they accused him of inciting it because of his sexuality.
Here is Marr playing beneath the NME’s idea of racist imagery – although perhaps the Union Jack needs to be held by a “poofy bastard” to be described as racist?
The men’s men in the crowd offer the opinion that Morrissey is a “poofy bastard” and elevate many a middle finger. (Select, October 1992. Review of the Finsbury Park gig that saw Morrissey branded as a racist by the NME for holding a Union Jack).
Morrissey has always linked his depression to seeing footage of animals slaughtered & admits vegetarianism/veganism can be hard.
I became vegetarian first when I was very young when I caught sight of a programme on the television showing slaughter and I’d never seen it before, the abattoir, the slaughterhouse. I was frozen for five years. I couldn’t believe that in our society such places exist. Even now I can’t believe such places exist. It baffles me, I can’t understand it. Nobody’s that hungry that you need to take a life of something that also wants to live. It’s a gradual thing. Everybody begins as vegetarian because to dive straight forward into being a complete purist is very hard for most people. Financially you can’t do it and also you have to find food, but once you do it it’s so much better. [Takes off Stella McCartney shoe] There’s no animals involved in this shoe but from a distance you’d think it was an animal shoe. It’s not made of leather, it’s plastic. Would I really lie about this? Is this the place to lie about shoes? (Morrissey, Larry King Now, 19 August 2015)
Despite that, he’s always been attacked for it.
It’s hard to imagine Morrissey poking fun at himself, but here’s the same self-righteous lettucehead of Meat is Murder singing a song called Bigmouth Strikes Again. (Mark Coleman, Rolling Stone, 11 September 1986)
30 March 1985: Following the Morrissey interview (Trial By Jury) featured in the Melody Maker on 16 March, there was a strong reaction against the singer in the letters column. “Will MM give us a break from Mr Righteous God Almighty Morrissey?”… “Morrissey you ain’t seen anything if the Lunatic Animal Libbers kill any of my kids”… “MM could solve most of Morrissey’s problems by arranging a confrontation with a full-grown lion, a Bengal tiger, an alligator, or some other carnivores to see if his platitudes can influence their diet!” (Johnny Rogan, the Smiths, Omnibus Press, 1994)
And the press even managed to use it in their quest to brand him a gay predator/racist.
The holier-than-thou aspect of Morrissey’s public profile has naturally tempted journalists to try and bring him down… Some have unsuccessfully tried to brand him a racist… The other line has been to probe for a story on the man’s sexuality, taking their cue from the camp artwork on Smiths record sleeves… (Stuart Bailie, Record Mirror, 14 February 1987)
With his last album called Years of Refusal, Morrissey is nothing if not defiant, and I suspect that his unattractive response to being challenged over race in the past is to grow ever-more certain of his own righteousness and then court fresh controversy in order to confirm to himself that he is being persecuted. What the world thinks – and the feelings of others – are nothing compared to the importance of being Morrissey. (Tom Clark, the Guardian, September 2010) https://www.theguardian.com/global/2010/sep/03/morrissey-race-taboos-tom-clark
His outsiderdom is a function of his misanthropy. And his vegetarianism is the expedient by which he justifies that misanthropy. (Peter Paphides, the Guardian, 10 March 2012)
British rocker Morrissey forced Madison Square Garden to ban meat and fish when he gave a concert there last year. “There is no difference between eating animals and pedophilia,” he’s said, and once actually likened the use of animals for food to the Holocaust. His self-righteousness inflames Yvette d’Entremont, an LA-based analytical chemist who debunks many nutritional myths — especially those which claim just about every food to be dangerous… (Steve Cuzzo, New York Post, 18 May 2016)
Yet even that song’s (brilliant) sad-bastard rallying cry—“I am human and I need to be loved / just like everybody else does”—sounds like an understatement in comparison to “Meat Is Murder”’s sanctimonious refrain: “It’s death for no reason / and death for no reason is murder.” (Erik Adams, AV Club, 28 January 2015)
…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 (Morrissey, Tremr, 5 June 2018)