The myth that Morrissey is the UK’s most dangerous pop singing racist, fascist, xenophobe, nationalist, nativist, Nazi, bigot, Islamophobe was formed by policing, paraphrasing, distorting, conflating and fabricating his words, phrases, ideas, jokes, metaphors, name checks and things posted on his social (which he doesn’t run) for crimes or ‘dog-whistles’, while simultaneously ignoring or memoryholing the vast majority of things he’s said that counter it, and the huge number of disparaging things said about his sexuality, gender identity, and vegetarianism by some commentators who push it.
If forced to notice the response is often that nothing he’s said, or has been said about him, can mitigate whatever they’ve decided is unforgivable.
The character arc for Morrissey is Radical to Reactionary.
The character arc for the commentator is Delight to Disgust.
Or Morrissey is Exposed.
And the commentator is Vindicated.
There’s a long list of crimes – and many articles that list them – but it boils down to 2 interviews, and 2 symbols.
Melody Maker, September 1986
A joke answer to an NME questionnaire in 1985, Reggae is vile, was conflated with this Frank Owen interview which pitted Indie (intellectual) against Black music (physical) and Morrissey’s rambling answers, rather than the premise became a scandal. After that anything that could be related to race was cherry-picked and distorted, mainly to offset the discomfort they felt about his sexuality, lack of social skills (bluntness, stimming, shyness) and his militant vegetarianism.
The Union Jack
Morrissey played one of what was meant to be two, Madness gigs in August 1992 that led to him being accused of ‘flirting with fascism’ by the NME for holding the UK’s flag, singing The National Front Disco, and using a backdrop of female skinheads. During his set the crowd threw coins at him and yelled homophobic abuse (he rejects labels, but from the beginning of his career said he was attracted to men and women, and identified as trans). Upset, he refused to play the next day. He was condemned for encouraging racism, while the entire music press either ignored or expected him to endure the crowd’s homophobia. The National Front of 1992 hated Irish Catholics (Morrissey is Irish Catholic) and Gay people. He was also accused of supporting the British Nationalist Party and his picture was burned outside of EMI.
NME, November 2007.
Morrissey was interviewed by Tim Jonze where, as usual, he lamented that England was yet again dead. It suits his melancholy, sense of deracination as he grew up between Dublin and Manchester, and the trauma of the tight-knit slum he lived in being demolished in the 1960s. In the past he’d cited American television shows, the Channel Tunnel, & new buildings as evidence; this time he said he couldn’t hear a British accent on London’s most expensive street. The NME used an inflammatory tabloid headline to link him to inflammatory tabloid headlines about migrant workers from the EU and the type of Tory Bigot reputed to be moving to Spain because he hated foreigners. At the time Morrissey lived with his boyfriend in Rome. Any worry he then expressed about culture or conflict was taken to mean he hated immigrants or people of colour despite never once calling for immigration to be halted or reversed.
The For Britain Pin Badge
Morrissey, who has never voted, briefly became enamoured with a fringe activist, Anne Marie Waters, who had gained a fair amount of publicity by complaining that she was being smeared as a Nazi because she was a secular feminist. As an Irish lesbian vegan she was an unlikely British fascist, but had crossed from the left (10 years in the Labour Party) to the far right because she was fixated on misogyny in Sharia Law. When she lost her entryist UKIP leadership bid, he complained via a joke on BBC 6 Music Live, 2nd October 2017, that it was rigged. In a statement on Central in April 2018 he said he despised racism and fascism, would do anything for his muslim friends, and thought For Britain would stop the political violence that he blamed on Western media and Western politicians. In an interview on Tremr, June 2018 he said Anne Marie was humane, wanted debate, everyone to live under the same law and that the left had become right, and the right had become left, meaning he thought he was on the left. On the 13th of May 2019 he wore the pin badge of her new party For Britain on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, he wore it again when he played Broadway. The image caused a storm, seeming to confirm every allegation made against him since 1986. In a Central interview in June 2019 that had taken place in April 2019, he said he had never heard her say anything racist, and didn’t know why he was called racist for being against Halal slaughter when he was against all slaughter, which perhaps revealed the reason why her claims of being smeared had resonated with him, he’d been falsely smeared throughout his career. The myth is a vicious circle.