David Cameron goaded over The Smiths at Prime Minister's Questions

Discussion in 'General Discussion archive 2010 (read-only)' started by Sheridan Whiteside, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. Qvist

    Qvist Active Member

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    Is it ?! But in what does it consist? To be quite frank, I struggle to really see much political content in there at all, and practically none that isn't at least ambivalent or reliant on one among several possible interpretations. There's republicanism and vegetarianism, but these are, to most, peripheral issues and also not related to more general political orientations in any very clear way.
     
  2. A real fan would have worn a "The World Won't Listen" shirt or, presciently, a Strangeways one.
     
  3. Irregular Regular

    Irregular Regular Forget my fate.

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    You are not right in the head and nor am I, and this is why... :lbf:
     
  4. lnathan

    lnathan New Member

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    In Copenhagen The smiths are definitely connected with left wing activism.

    Theres is a place I used to go every Tuesday, where they cooked vegan food made from unsold out-of-date food products from local super markets. 15-20 year-olds spend their free time breaking in to supermarkets to steal food (they are not allowed to give it away, even though it is perfectly fine for eating) and then volunteering in the kitchen to cook nice food for homeless people and poor students. After that they go out and smash the windows of McDonalds.

    In that place they always played the Smiths.
     
  5. That's theft and vandalism, not left-wing activism.
     
  6. Anaesthesine

    Anaesthesine Angel of Distemper

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    I suppose it depends on how one defines "political."

    That period in the '80s was particularly fraught when it came to identity politics: AIDS, Reagan, the NEA flap, the rise of the religious right - the music scene was particularly reactive and politically charged.

    Here in the US queercore was just taking off, and everything seemed like a call-to-arms. Sure, The Smiths weren't as literally political as, say, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, or anyone in the hardcore scene, but they certainly had a subtext that was deeply subversive (especially in America, where we have a rabidly homophobic/anti-intellectual culture).

    There were bands that were simply entertaining, and there were bands who were fashionably anti-authoritarian, but I always heard The Smiths as a (rather nebulous) call-to-arms, and Morrissey in particular was a polarizing, inspiring figure to a lot of people who felt disenfranchised by mainstream culture.

    That may not be overtly political, but The Smiths empowered a group of people who felt quite marginalized. It's such a cliché at this point, but it's true: Oscar Wilde was political in much the same way - he was a radical aesthete. It wasn't a matter of Left v Right, so much as Us v Them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010
  7. Happy Maudlin

    Happy Maudlin Corinthian and Caricature

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    But political always meant polarizing to me, and the Smiths music is decidely non-polarizing. From the musical composition to the lyrics about personal subjects such as longing, isolation, and even bits from the literary canon, The Smiths music doesn't read as "political" to me. Of course the Smiths's made social commentary but social commentary does require political action, probably reaction, but not action. The mere presence of people like Morrissey is a statement in itself and that alone threatens the establishment. People like Morrissey represent many things that confound the hoi polloi and defy class, sex and gender and political distinctions.

    I also feel that the Smiths didn't "empower" anyone who is marginalized socially, because people in a position to be socially accepted could also feel "left out". The Smiths just acknowledged their existence and gave the feeling that "someone out there feels the same way I do". That experience can't be bound by political persuasion, despite your always eloquent explanantion of the idea.
     
  8. Qvist

    Qvist Active Member

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    Why would a true fan wear a t-shirt featuring by far their weakest album rather than their best one, as this girl does? Makes no sense. ;)
     
  9. Not for the album content, but for the title. Duh.

    Oh, and HoH is definitely not their best album.
     
  10. Qvist

    Qvist Active Member

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    Yes it is.
     
  11. CrystalGeezer

    CrystalGeezer My secret's my enzyme.

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    I agree.

    I agree with this too. I love it, Hoh haterz are deaf.

    Morrissey said this about it, from passions...

    Morrissey, December 1984, Jamming! magazine: "We wanted it released on purely selfish terms because we liked all those tracks and those versions. I wanted to present those songs again in the most flattering form. Those sessions almost caught the very heart of what we did - there was something positively messy about them, which was very positive. People are so nervous and desperate when they do those sessions, so it seems to bring the best out of them."
     
  12. I didn't say I hate it!
     
  13. Worm

    Worm Taste the diffidence

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    Don't eschew the right answer just 'cause it's boring. :)

    [​IMG]
     
  14. lnathan

    lnathan New Member

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    Ok, smashing windows, yes, that is vandalism.

    But taking food that would other wise have been wasted and turning it into nice meals for people who don't other wise get many nice meals....you actually think that's wrong?
     
  15. Anaesthesine

    Anaesthesine Angel of Distemper

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    Aw shucks. :)

    I have to disagree: anguished, shy, bookish, Oscar-Wilde-loving young vegetarian abstainers everywhere lit up like Christmas trees when one of the tribe finally walked up to the mic and took on the world. "Empowered" is an overused word, but I think it fits in this case. Morrissey was so hard to pin down that he had an eclectic array of followers, as well as a wide circle of haters. He was polarizing in a strangely visceral way, especially in America where (much to his chagrin) "Morrissey" became the password for all things queer.

    As I said, it was the era of "the personal is political." One's choices of who to love (or refuse to love), what to eat, the refusal to conform and a willingness to fly one's freak flag high was radical in the age of Reagan. Again, not obviously Left or Right, but radical nonetheless. You may not think that The Smiths have a particularly political subtext, but there was much reading between the lines.

    The current brouhaha between their Lefty and their Right-wing followers is evidence that people of all stripes have a big emotional stake in what they think The Smiths actually stood for. A fascinating testament to the fact that they had a profound influence on their audience in ways that went beyond mere comfort and entertainment.
     
  16. Oh my god. it's Robby!

    Oh my god. it's Robby! spontaneously luminescent

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    you know, I always thought that when Morrissey was talking about a life of crime and stuff, what he really meant was one in politics :sick:
     
  17. It doesn't matter what I think--it's wrong legally, but that doesn't mean that it's wrong ethically. But laws are based on reason, not emotion, or at least that's the idea.
     
  18. CrystalGeezer

    CrystalGeezer My secret's my enzyme.

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    Breaking windows of McDonalds is rationalized machismo and stupid. But stealing food that would be otherwise wasted is not wrong in my book. I'm familiar with that policy of throwing away food. It's an internal loss prevention measure that larger companies unfortunately have to apply so they don't bake extra food in order to waste it into their employees backpacks. We used to give homeless shelter our day old bread. Then when we were told not to, we packaged it in clean paper bags and put it next to the trashcan where there was a man ready waiting to pick it up at the end of the night from the shelter. :rolleyes: Stupid rules, there's always a way around them.
     
  19. Worm

    Worm Taste the diffidence

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    I absolutely agree that some of the political content is ambivalent or ambiguous, and very rarely can a message about anything in Morrissey's work be removed from its context without severely damaging its meaning. (Except "Meat Is Murder", perhaps, but then I think that song has always stood slightly apart from the rest, so in my view it proves the rule.)

    However, I think The Smiths' politics force you to follow various lines of thought to their sources to find the buried links between them. What seems conservative is really liberal, what is liberal turns out to be conservative, and eventually the various labels of convenience fall away and something like the truth-in-itself emerges. The Smiths point toward deeper truths that aren't partisan but instead have a universal quality. At such depths words like "left" and "right" fall away like training wheels. I think this was the point Morrissey was trying to reach with "Meat Is Murder"-- life of any kind is sacred-- but (ironically, considering the lyrics' stark directness) failed. Other, more ambiguous songs get a bit further along toward their goal. Easy example: in "Still Ill" it is precisely the inability to decide if the mind rules the body, or if the body rules the mind, that makes the song's lyric true.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2010
  20. Qvist

    Qvist Active Member

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    Anesthesine
    I agree with both of you, but then we are beyond what I would tend to think of as "political". As Anesthesine notes.
     
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