The Simpsons Do The Snuffs

On April 18th 2021, The Simpsons, aired an episode about Morrissey.

They set it up as an affectionate tribute made by fans:

https://variety.com/2021/tv/news/simpsons-morrissey-benedict-cumberbatch-1234953472/

Then they trashed him as a fat, ugly, old, nasty, meat-eating, gay, racist.

They were righteous about the bait and switch in their live tweets:

RT’d by Matt Selman

Morrissey’s manager made bewildered Facebook posts:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-56806312

Morrissey published a statement that was his usual mix of jokes and wounds:

https://www.morrisseycentral.com/messagesfrommorrissey/hello-hell

Some tweeters gloated:

Some pundits called him humourless:

Neil Gaiman took the opportunity to suck up to the television industry as if he’d be thrilled by an episode that condemned him for potentially murdering the people of Skye because he was too dim to read the Covid rules:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-52697289

Not that they would target Neil with anything that would hurt or exclude him, because whatever his personal issues, he does marketing, networking, online engagement, works with a vast number of people & might be able to shaft your career. Things Morrissey can’t do, due to shyness, anxiety, depression, dysmorphia, and/or clear-eyed horror at its fakeness.

The show probably took its character arc from a hit piece in The LA Times, based on hit pieces in the British press. There’s an accumulating list of misquotes and misinterpretations and every article will pick at least three, along with UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN labels like xenophobe, racist, far right, right-wing, British nationalist, British nativist, controversial, reactionary, toxic, anti-immigrant, hard to love, dead to me, or HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED.

It’s like he dumped them all by text message.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2019-10-24/morrissey-anti-immigrant-white-nationalist-hollywood-bowl

Nearly everything about him gets edited out & the rest is conflated, hyped & chanted.

For a start, he is an immigrant, not to the USA, but to England:

… my sister and I growing up, never really felt we were Mancunians. My Irishness was never something I hid or camouflaged. I grew up in a strong Irish community. Of course, early on I’d be teased about it, I was called `Paddy’ from an early age. I mean, there I was, born, braised and bred in Manchester but I was still always called `Paddy’. And this was back in the 1960s when it was a bitter and malevolent slur. But that’s how Manchester people are – they’re extremely critical of everything and everybody. (Morrissey, November 1999, Irish Times)

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/paddy-english-man-part-1-1.252576

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/paddy-english-man-part-2-1.252578

His current band, that no one ever talks about because they’re too busy pining for the all-white one, has immigrants:

I remember seeing you in a Chivas USA shirt. You have a strong association with Mexico. How do you think their people are treated in America?
Oh, like kings! No, sorry, that was a joke. 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. He will one day, of course…
(Morrissey, August 2014, Hot Press)

https://www.hotpress.com/music/a-piece-of-his-mind-morrissey-interview-12107062

Boz Boorer, Jesse Tobias, Morrissey, Mando Lopez, Matt Walker, Gustavo Manzur

He’s mentioned immigration in general only a few times in his career, and he’s never attacked people, or demanded that immigration be lowered, stopped or reversed. What he frets about is the tensions inherent in identity. Who we are, why we are, can we kick against it, can we get along? Always on the side of the less powerful, although in his eagerness to attack government policy, he can forget the social norm of expressing pity for its victims while doing absolutely nothing genuinely helpful. He laments that culture is becoming generic esp in music. And he rails against tyranny and injustice; we need structure to make our lives function, but it can also oppress and brutalise us:

The infantile panic with which American immigration officials shout loudly and humiliate gleefully is designed to exert strength, yet it trumpets cowardice and it fouls notions of patriotism… The US government proudly boasted Zero Tolerance and implemented the scheme with zero intelligence. (Morrissey, 2013, Autobiography)

But his overwhelming concern is the meat industry:

The fact that the slaughterhouse or abattoir exists is the most obvious example of human evil. The slaughterhouse is the dead end for humanity, and as long as it exists we can’t possibly have any hope for the human race. If you’ve seen abattoir footage then you cannot possibly think that humans are anything other than evil pests…

He has always felt his opposition to the meat industry is opposed by power:

If your views threaten any form of establishment interests, you are usually ignored or silenced or said to be ‘ranting, I have never ranted in my life. (Morrissey, June 2015, The Huffington Post)

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/morrissey-animals_n_7588034?ri18n=true

And he clearly believed fringe crank, Anne Marie Waters, founder of For Britain, when she said she was being smeared as a racist and a fascist because she was talking about sensitive issues to do with veganism, secularism, animal rights, feminism, and gay rights. And that somehow she would stop the violence and polarization that was driving politics in the 2010s as social media funneled us into warring silos:

I despise racism. I despise fascism.  I would do anything for my Muslim friends, and I know they would do anything for me.  (Morrissey, April 2018, Central)

https://www.morrisseycentral.com/messagesfrommorrissey/i-ve-been-dreaming-of-a-time-when-the-english-are-sick-to-death-of-labour-and-tories

Yes, he could have been more savvy, she is entirely a product of polarisation, but she’s essentially an unelectable YouTuber. At the time of writing (April 2021) he last mentioned her two years ago in April 2019, and he first and last wore the badge of her ‘party’ (which he apparently didn’t join or vote for) in May 2019.

The timing of the show was cynical.

The Simpsons had been called out for using racial stereotypes and discriminatory casting.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/matt-groening-the-simpsons-white-actors-nonwhite-characters-exclude-b920972.html

https://eu.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/tv/2021/03/21/the-simpsons-creator-matt-groening-talks-700-episodes-future-apu/4754144001/

Hank Azaria had apologised for voicing Indian character, Apu… for 30 years.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-56731420

And they recast gay Cuban character, Julio, with a gay Cuban actor.

https://hypebeast.com/2021/4/the-simpsons-recasts-gay-cuban-character-julio-with-gay-actor-tony-rodriguez

Which does make their joy at (as far as we know) straight, Benedict Cumberbatch, making a homophobic ad-lib as the ‘Morrissey’ character bigoted peculiar.

‘The Batch’ **high fives everyone, we got this** has previous; using an outdated term to refer to black actors, moaning that it’s hard being posh and playing a trans character for laughs.

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/jan/26/benedict-cumberbatch-apologises-after-calling-black-actors-coloured

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/8978114/Benedict-Cumberbatch-being-posh-can-ostracise-you.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/zoolander-2-benedict-cumberbatch-s-cartoonish-transgender-character-prompts-call-film-boycott-a6743891.html

But it doesn’t matter.

This is about clout.

And for some grotesque reason a high profile television show decided to improve its image by taking pains – stars, songs, extras – to punch down at a low profile Indie singer. Which would have made a better plot.

To cap it The Sunday Times editorial, 25th April 2021, made it clear we hate it when our stars don’t give exclusive interviews:

“devious, truculent and unreliable”.

In 1989, drummer Mike Joyce, started legal action against Morrissey and Marr to get the full 25% of past and future Smiths royalties that he claimed he was owed as part of a verbal contract with the band.

The case reached the high court in 1996 and after 7 weeks he won the case.

In his ruling Judge John Weeks called Joyce ‘honest’ and Morrissey ‘devious, truculent and unreliable’.

Morrissey appealed on the grounds that it was unfair to make a decision based on a character assassination, but he lost.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/209224.stm

Devious, truculent and unreliable is often cited as if it’s the legal verdict:

It’s one thing to hear Morrissey obfuscating with the press, and being his playful self. But to see him grilled by a barrister is something else. Because you can’t play pop-star games in the same way, and with the rhetorical flourishes that you normally do, because it just doesn’t work in the high court. It’s just straight question and answer. And where Wildean wit would work in an interview context, in the high court they just come back to you again and again: ‘Would you please just answer the question? (Johnny Rogan, Irish Times, January 2012)

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/music/2.681/putting-the-byrds-on-their-rightful-perch-1.445601

And Morrissey has never let it go, obsessively talking about John Weeks to journalist Lynn Barber in 2002, calling the NME devious, truculent and unreliable after a disastrous interview in 2007, and devoting around 50 pages to the case in his autobiography.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2002/sep/15/artsfeatures.popandrock

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/everyone-s-a-loser-in-the-morrissey-vs-nme-feud-1.989460

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-24562454

In one particularly gruesome article he was accused of exploiting children:

During the trial, it emerged that Morrissey had forced an agreement on members Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke to only receive ten percent of profits each … without actually telling them. When Rourke was trapped in a heroin addiction and in desperate need of cash, Morrissey then forced him to waive future claims to his fair share in return for a quick cash injection to feed his monkey (that’s slang for addiction, not an actual pet monkey). Oh, plus there’s the fact that when the band started Morrissey was a fully grown man of 23, while the other members were teenagers barely out of high school. If there’s a better word than “devious” for describing a man who rips off teenagers for tens of thousands of dollars … no, there isn’t.  

https://www.grunge.com/172120/messed-up-details-about-morrissey/

National Front Disco

In 1992, Morrissey’s album Your Arsenal, had a track called The National Front Disco.

The National Front was a fascist political party founded in the UK in 1967. In the 1970s they tried to appeal to youths via social events like football matches and discos, eventually becoming associated with punks, skinheads and hooligans.

In a 2015 essay by Frank Owen about the 1970s Manchester punk scene, Morrissey is described as a ‘wallflower’ and a ‘delicate bloom’. Many of the details were a rehash from the Melody Maker interview in 1986 where Frank calls him ‘camp’, a ‘big jessie’ and a ‘big girl’s shirt’.

https://medium.com/cuepoint/booze-blood-and-noise-the-violent-roots-of-manchester-punk-af8092bcaac3

https://fxowen.wordpress.com/golden-oldies/home-thoughts-from-abroad/

Giving the impression that Morrissey was girly and gay seemed important at the time, now he calls him a bigot and a racist.

The song had a variety of inspirations – Bill Buford’s Among The Thugs that described a homoerotic National Front Disco in Bury. Nick Knight’s Skinhead. Bands like Bradford, Angelic Upstarts, and Cockney Rejects. Photographs by Derek Ridgers. The pulp novels of Richard Allen.

In it family and friends tell a young man that they’ve lost him, they know why they’ve lost him, and they doubt he’ll get the revenge or the reward he’s seeking.

In August 1992 Morrissey played a gig with Madness at Finsbury Park. It was reported that the crowd threw missiles and yelled homophobic slurs like ‘poofy bastard’. Morrissey finished his set, but refused to return for the next date. This refusal was widely condemned in the music press culminating in the NME running an article accusing him of encouraging racism with his ‘fascist iconography’ – a union jack and a picture of two female skinheads – and citing The National Front Disco as the latest of a series of racist words in his interviews and lyrics ie Hang The DJ, Bengali In Platforms, When You Belong Here, Shelve Your Western Plans, Asian Rut, Reggae is vile and the fabricated Black Pop Conspiracy.

In The Observer, December 1992, Robert Chalmers, thought he was ‘perversely attracted to the iconography of the far right.’

Morrissey said: ‘I like the flag. I think it’s very attractive. When does a Union Jack become racist?… The National Front interests me, like it interests everyone. Just as all manner of sexuality interests everyone. That doesn’t mean you necessarily want to take part.’

Billy Bragg said ‘I don’t think Morrissey has ever quite got his politics worked out… The real problem with neo-fascist symbolism’ – that’s two girls and the UK’s official flag on a stage with a poofy bastard – ‘is that it is extremely difficult to retain an attitude which is neutral or ironic, which is what I think he is attempting to do.’

Except Morrissey’s politics were clear at the time. He hated Mrs Thatcher. He said he was a socialist. Much of the left shared his dislike of American hegemony and saw the European Union as a continuation of Imperialism. And while he was never keen on benefits and boycotts, he had dutifully turned up.

Beyond wanting to give him a kicking for not fulfilling professional engagements there seemed to be an underlying moral panic about his sexuality.

That he might be exploring violent male subcultures as a kink and the only way anyone could deal with it was to attack it for non-existent racism, or contain it by framing it as ironic or neutral.

Scruples from an industry that had no problem with the iconography of future Trump supporter John Lydon, or girlfriend murderer, Sid Vicious:

That’s happy to wax nostalgic about larky bad boys regardless of violence, homophobia and David Icke conspiracy theories:

Mark himself had once had his head banged repeatedly against a wall by Elvis Costello’s combative manager, Jake Riviera; one of his former NME colleagues was set on fire by Rat Scabies from The Damned, and another was left gaffer-taped to a tree in a desert by The Stranglers… Being “duffed up” (as Mark put it) by disgruntled rock stars was, I realised, a journalistic rite-of-passage. Still, he recommended I call (Ian) Brown’s record company and tell them that their “talent” was going around threatening critics… Within two weeks of our phone “chat” came the infamous air-rage incident, when he threatened to cut off the hands of a British Airways stewardess, then hammered on the cockpit door as the flight came into land… Brown was arrested. (He was eventually sentenced to four months in Strangeways, of which he served eight weeks.)… And, a few months later, Brown launched into a bizarre homophobic rant… ”I don’t trust the British fascination with homosexuals… Violence comes from Romans, Nazis, Greeks – they were all homosexuals.”... How did the lead singer of such an epoch-defining band become a swivel-eyed Covid-denier and online truth warrior? Well, one could plausibly point to a heady cocktail of toxic masculinity, over-inflated ego and drug use… A more sympathetic reading is that the 57-year-old divorced father-of-three might not be feeling quite himself in this new normal™, as is the case with many of us right now. Brown’s “me against the world” complex could be heightened by his counter-cultural leanings, instinctive anti-establishment beliefs and estrangement from his former bandmates. (Michael Hogan, October 2020, The Telegraph)

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/artists/gonna-give-proper-manchester-kicking-ian-browns-journey-violence/

That will collect together anti-Moz songs that include homophobic lyrics because paraphrases of his ‘inflammatory’ statements make him fair game:

All you do is hate life and tell me about it. You’re a homosexual, just keep me out of it. All your music sounds the same
I don’t even like your art fag name. Cause I hate The Smiths and Steven Morrissey
(I Hate The Smiths, Ween)

That crybaby son of bitch, no-talent motherfucker/Bastard-ass dickhead, ball-flapping dicksucker/Baggy-shirted depressed Dean-loving bonehead/Making lots of money with boring songs like Suedehead. (Morrissey Rides A Cockhorse, Warlock Pinchers)

Slap that fag with a toe tag , If you won’t do it then I will. (Morrissey Must Die, Meatmen)

Shaking hands with Morrissey, Sucking cock in East Africa, Ask a lesbian for a fuck, Take a shower in…Auschwitz (Deathtime, Turbonegro)

https://music.avclub.com/viva-hate-15-anti-morrissey-songs-1798222021

Where homophobic anecdotes can be repeated without fear of denting anyone’s career:

When Julian Casablancas (Strokes) has a drink” Jimi (Goodwin, Doves) warns “he goes nuts.” He launches into his favourite Strokes anecdote. Apparently the two bands were in LA having post-gig drinks in a British theme bar. None other than Morrissey was nearby, at a table with 3 girls. “It was fucking strange, man” Jimi laughs “He kept sending these girls over to say ‘Morrissey is sat in the corner if you’d like to talk to him’. He is dead shy, but it was like he was holding fucking court. We were like “We’re cool, tell him to come over and join us”. So he came over and sat down, and Julian started calling him a fucking faggot. I was like “just leave it out, Julian” and he was all “Jimi’s upset with me, man – what’s the problem?” and then he kept doing it! (NME, August, 2001)

Where rock stars can routinely demand everything from drugs to groupies, but Morrissey can’t get a towel:

‘He’s a woman in a man’s body… I remember a feeling of absolute revulsion standing at the side of the stage at the palace watching Stuart James, who’s a brilliant engineer, a good producer and a fine young man, scurrying across the stage with eight freshly cleaned towels for Morrissey.’ (Tony Wilson, The Severed Alliance by Johnny Rogan)

Where casual racism is just a snappy lead:

OK. So it’s not the same as having millions of Muslims baying for your blood, but being at the receiving end of a fatwah issued by Pop’s most vehement star is not an uninteresting circumstance in which to find oneself. (Hot Press, March 2001)

Captions can be in bad taste:

The Smiths, Johnny Rogan

And your friends get corrections:

“No, because your rabbi respects PIG ISLAM”. (Julie Burchill, Independent, September 2014).

Julie Burchill – the funniest, brightest writer I ever met. (David Quantick, Le Document, July 2020)

The National Front Disco

David, the wind blows,
The wind blows

Bits of your life away.
Your friends all say,
“Where is our boy?
Ah, we’ve lost our boy”.
But they should know,
Where you’ve gone,
Because again and again you’ve explained
That you’re going to . . .
Oh, oh, oh, going to . . .
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
“England for the English”,
“England for the English”.
David, the wind’s blown,
The wind’s blown
All of my dreams away.
And I still say,
“Where is our boy?
Ah, we’ve lost our boy”.
But I should know
Why you’ve gone,

Because again and again you’ve explained
You’re going to the National . . .
Ah, to the National . . .
There’s a country,
You don’t live there,
But one day you would like to.
And if you show them what you’re made of,
Ah, then you might do.
But David, we wonder,
We wonder if the thunder
Is ever really gonna begin,
Begin, begin
Your mum says,
“I’ve lost my boy”.
But she should know
Why you’ve gone,

Because again and again you’ve explained
You’re going to the National,
To the National,
To the National Front disco,
Because you want the day to come sooner,
You want the day to come sooner,
You want the day to come sooner,
When you’ve settled the score.
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National