Last edited by 123xyz; July 18, 2012 at 04:34 AM. Reason: Readjustment
You can accuse me of splitting hairs, but it seems to be an important distinction in Morrissey's view, and I respect that. As far as I can tell, in his view, dropping clues that you like men and women, and have had relationships with both, isn't the same thing as saying you're bisexual. I see his point, because you and I both know that if he said he was this or that, whatever label he allowed to be pinned on him once would be forever pinned on him. I don't even think there's a fear of homophobia or bigotry directed against him, but more a disdain for the facile, reductive categories in which critics and fans may imprison him. It isn't fair or rational, but that's how it goes.
Just look at this thread. All of us more or less agree on the status of Morrissey's sexuality, but here we are, talking about it again, and discussing comments and songs in detail. Would we be doing that if he just admitted his bisexuality to the NME?
Last edited by Worm; July 18, 2012 at 01:55 PM.
When "Ringleader of the Tormentors" was released, people rightly zeroed in on the album's sexuality. Here are two examples of writers who attempted to discuss the matter with Morrissey.
Here's Paul Morley, one of the the best rock writers of the last twenty or thirty years, taking him on in Uncut:
Morley: You moved to Rome to be with someone.
Morley: Because of someone.
Morley: You met someone and moved to Rome to be with them.
Morrissey: That's the tabloid journalist in you, as if there is no story without some greasy little tabloid element to it.
Morley: So you haven't.
Morrissey: I haven't [sigh]. I can't say anything other than I haven't if I haven't. Don't put the innocent face on me. Does it really matter in the end one way or the other whether I have, haven't, have never, have soon?
Morley: Something's happened on this album-- a sonic discovery, an emotional discovery, a reawakening, a new focus...
Morrissey: Maybe you know and I don't. Maybe that's the way it should be.
Morley: This album has achieved something atmospherically and emotionally that you haven't reached before.
Morrissey: I'll take your lead on that...
Morley: You don't see it this way?
Morrissey: I've always been me, and whatever happens on record, that's me, at whatever stage I'm at, in whatever state...I've always been inexplicably me, detailing every twist and turn in the sordid events of my life...Shall I keep answering that question by not answering how you want me to?
Talking to Spin Magazine, 2006:
Spin: There's explicit sexuality in some of the lyrics.
Morrissey: Only in the ear of the beholder.
Spin: "Dear God Please Help Me" probably most so.
Morrissey: I am here. I am walking through Rome. My heart is on a string. I am open to offers.
Spin: You've always been open to offers. You've just never taken them.
Morrissey: I was gazing through my own frosted window. I don't feel that now. I couldn't really imagine being desired. Now, just in the nick of time, I feel perhaps I can be.
Spin: So you are sexually active now?
Morrissey: Well, it's about time. That's all I can say.
Spin: Much of the album is almost a chronicle of de-flowering.
Morrissey: [Laughs.] How many times can that happen to a person?
Spin: People are going to speculate about your sexual activity again.
Morrissey: Fine, then maybe I should take up ice-skating. Sometimes I feel explanations are very unnecessary and really spoil things.
Douglas Coupland wrote a mediocre interview/think-piece on Morrissey for the Guardian a few years back, but I think he got this part right:
"Morrissey is interview-proof. Don't bother. He's not an asshole and he's not the Dalai Lama, but you could interview him for a thousand years and you'd learn nothing. And this is just fine. Interviewing Morrissey pinpoints the bankruptcy of interviewing as a form of expression: if you don't believe in it, it can't happen. I don't much believe in interviews, and I don't think Morrissey does either."
It's got to be endlessly frustrating. At my job, I don't present a project I've been working on for months and hear, "Great, great work... yeah. Now, more importantly, who are you fucking these days?"
Last edited by Worm; July 18, 2012 at 03:03 PM.
Interesting to see which people are in desperate need to convince themselves that they know nothing even though they pretty much do.
But while we are at it, please define what you mean by "homosexual", "bisexual" and "heterosexual". Many users of this website hide between undefined terms.
Isn't Morrissey a romantic, at heart? A curmudgeonly one, but still... he really seems to be conceding that that perfect someone is out there... and he will settle for nothing less. And while he may toss off a salacious comment or two, he's really keeping his sex life private. Which is charming, and actually refreshing. In the 80s, when Madonna was doing her best to show her tits (and still does, sheesh) he was saying, "Sex... wow. Intimidating. Freakish. I want it, yet I'm afraid..." Who admits to that? Nobody else.
Mojo: Now, with something like Dear God, Please Help Me on the new album…gender-specific.
Morrissey: Am I running scared now? Whatever people invest within you, that's what you are and there's nothing I can do about that. People can say what they like. I can't really control how people view a situation so why obsess about it? And why set out to correct everybody on the planet with the view they have about you? That would be exhausting. And it's impossible.
Mojo: But it does take a strong and content Morrissey to now be gender-specific in such a beautiful, well, love song?
Morrissey: Many of the great love songs of all time are non-gender specific. Mine are, truthfully, innocent expressions of a somewhat primitive person. This innocence stops you from going any further. If you write in a non-gender specific way, you can be considered to be avoiding the bold truth, or speaking in code, or giving a knowing wink - I understand all of that, naturally. But I don't think I'd be any less of a conundrum to people if I actually wrote or sang in a deafeningly specific way. As I said earlier, I am simply inexcusably me.
Last edited by Worm; July 18, 2012 at 03:39 PM.
The gender and orientation of the lyric mattered more to me when I was a teenager, when I read them as pro-gay--which, incidentally, cemented my attitude of openness and compassion toward what's now known as the LGBT community. I would almost certainly have come around to the same view, but 'The Boy with the Thorn in his Side' made quick work of it. And, as it happens, made me a better friend to some around me who were struggling with their sexuality at a time when teenagers were not free to be "out." (This was over twenty years ago...) And Meat is Murder did just as neat a job of opening my mind to vegetarianism.
I think the songs are about love, in general, and sex, in general, and the flip-flopping or obtuseness just make them all seem a little more universal. This one's about a boy, this one's about a girl... they are all the same at heart.
As you say, his answers (and the songs themselves) can be read in different ways. It's not easy to see exactly what kind of message he's sending. I think some of what he was going for is aptly expressed in your second paragraph about changing attitudes. He definitely wanted to do that. But maybe, in addition to that, he's just an eccentric fellow who places a high value on his individuality. I'm sure you noticed he used the words "inexplicably me" in two different interviews. Clearly part of his self-styled image is that of the genius whom nobody can define, explain, categorize, or solve. Could it be that some of his unwillingness to reveal the gory details about his sex life comes down to simple egotism?
There's no easy answer, and that, to me, is the larger point. He's won the battle already. Nothing about him is simple or easy. He forces us to roll up our sleeves and do the work needed to understand him.
And yes, an artist so obsessed with symbol and image and film stills would be invested in his own inscrutability. I like that very much. I just realized he's the one artist I've paid the most attention to in my life. More than any painter or photographer or filmmaker...
I guess the mascara mob over at The Cure's fan site say that about Robert Smith, too, and so do the screaming eighth graders at JustinBieber.com. I dunno. I call 'em like I see 'em. We're going to miss him when he's gone.