Emily Reynolds on how Morrissey's politics are alienating fans - The New European

Well-thought-out article.

Emily Reynolds on how Morrissey’s politics are alienating fans - The New European

Aged 13 and newly converted to vegetarianism, the discovery of The Smiths’ album Meat is Murder was genuinely revelatory for me. It kickstarted a nearly 10-year-long obsession with Morrissey, the band’s charismatic and pugnacious lead singer – an obsession that carried on well into my early-20s.

Until last year I continued to travel up and down the country – and sometimes abroad – to see gigs and meet up with friends I’d met queuing for the front row or talking about Morrissey with online. I met one of my best friends several years ago via an annual ‘Morrissey meet-up’, and last year we went to Barcelona ostensibly for a holiday but actually to attend a gig in a tiny Spanish nightclub, queueing for hours in the sun to get near the front. I found solace, comfort and community in the spirited spite of Moz’s eloquent lyrics, and even got a few of them incorporated into tattoos.

So, as a proud Remain voter, it’s more than a little disheartening to hear Morrissey’s latest comments on Brexit.

“It’s been shocking to witness the refusal of the UK news media to be fair enough to accept the final decision of the people, simply because the decision does not suit the establishment,” he told Israeli website Walla. “The BBC persistently smear people who voted leave, condemning such people as being irresponsible, drunken racists.”

I’d actually love to say that it feels like a betrayal, but it’s just one more unsurprising addition to a long line of reactionary, poorly thought through statements from the singer. In recent weeks alone, Morrissey has claimed that the media hate George Galloway and Nigel Farage, who he bafflingly describes as “liberal educators”, because they “respect equal freedom for all people”, and criticised London mayor Sadiq Khan for eating “halal-butchered beings”.

Vegetarianism is great, and animal rights are obviously a noble cause, but bringing Khan’s Muslim faith to the fore sounds an awful lot like racism, making it a little rich for Morrissey to describe the (alleged) “condemnation” of Leave voters as “irresponsible racists”.

In 2007, he said he felt like England had been “thrown away”, and complained that “if you walk through Knightsbridge on any bland day of the week, you won’t hear an English accent… You’ll hear every accent under the sun apart from the British accent.”

In 2013 Moz stated that he had “nearly voted for UKIP”, and he’s previously referred to Chinese people as a “subspecies” because of their treatment of animals – hardly the best person to judge whether someone is being falsely accused of racism. It’s a very long way from his 1990 declaration that “there are some bad people on the right”.

In any case, though many of those who voted Leave aren’t racist, what pro-Brexiters have done is stand alongside campaigners who certainly are, and there’s the question of whether a vote for Leave was also an implicit legitimation of that racism. Since the EU referendum, hundreds of incidents of hate crimes have been reported, with many perpetrators telling victims to “go back to your own country”. It’s not hard to see a link between this Us vs Them mentality and the result of the referendum, with freshly emerging racist narratives vindicating the views of many who had previously kept their opinions silent and who now feel empowered to air them publicly – and sometimes violently. The murder of Jo Cox, which came at the height of the Brexit debate, should also have served as a stark reminder of what was at stake when we decided whether to stay in the European Union; a staunch campaigner for the rights of refugees, immigrants and other minorities, Cox represented the multicultural values that genuinely do make Britain great.

This beautifully diverse and multicultural Britain is not the one present in Morrissey’s work, though; throughout his career, he’s wistfully depicted the country as a proud but fading island, adrift without identity. The Queen is Dead more or less screamed “there is something rotten in the state of Salford”, and later songs like Everyday Is Like Sunday and Come Back to Camden painted yearning portraits of an England that had long disappeared – and probably never existed to begin with. At heart, Morrissey’s idea of what ‘Britain’ means is entirely romanticised and closer to fairytale than reality. It would be unobjectionable if such views didn’t have an impact on the lives of so many people.

Morrissey’s anti-Brexit stance is also personally hypocritical; his parents were Irish immigrants to Manchester, and he himself has lived all over the world, including recent stints in Italy. Such freedom of movement will probably still be available to him after Brexit, simply because he’s famous and fairly wealthy; to deny that to others, especially those who don’t have the same material and political privileges as him, is shortsighted at best and deeply selfish at worst.

I still find his position baffling – one of the reasons people love Morrissey so much is because his lyrics speak so directly to those who feel as if they are outsiders, and his large gay and Mexican fan bases show how powerful that draw is. Indeed, his song Mexico criticises racism in America; “if you’re rich and you’re white you’ll be alright”. It’s a sentiment at odds with his support of UKIP, who are often considered to be exclusionary and racist, and highlights the inherent contradiction in many arguments for Brexit.

Although Nigel Farage, who Morrissey says he “likes a great deal”, might like to see himself as a political black sheep, he’s a millionaire public school-educated ex-banker – not an outsider in any real sense.

It’s a stark comparison to those who really are oppressed and who really are outsiders – the migrants and refugees that Brexit will most severely impact – who Morrissey seems completely unable to defend because of his desperation to cling onto an idealised version of England. Whether Morrissey’s criticism of the BBC’s coverage of Brexit is to do with his adolescent fixation on insulting authority figures or whether it really is about politics, he’s only adding 
to a damaging narrative that alienates those in our society who most need to be supported.

Will I always love Morrissey’s music? Of course. But when it comes to politics, he’d be best taking his own advice... Get Off The Stage.

Emily Reynolds is a freelance writer for Vice, New York magazine and The Guardian, among others. Her book A Beginner’s Guide To Losing Your Mind is out next year.
 
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Comments

Uncleskinny

It's all good
Subscriber
Apologies about the formatting, I don't know how to take the invisible link tags away.

**EDIT** fixed
 
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Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
Apologies about the formatting, I don't know how to take the invisible link tags away.
When there's loads, I paste it in to notepad or similar and copy it from there - it strips the hyperlink urls out of the text.
Regards,
FWD.
 
E

Eldritch

Guest
If there ever was an artist that would want to end his career by making all his fans hate him then that someone is Morrissey. I always felt like he hated to be worshipped and prefered to be hated. He draws so much energy from hate and conflict.
I don't really buy that. If that's true, why he's so obsessed about charts? Or break relationships with record companies when he feels that his records are not promoted enough? His biggest contradiction is that he both wants to be blindly adored and spout controversial views. You can't really compare meat eaters to pedophiles and except everybody to love you at the same time.
 

javert

Super Moderator
Moderator
Subscriber
The very fact it's written by 'The New European' immediately discredits anything that is said. Oh...and she writes for Vice.
 

Uncleskinny

It's all good
Subscriber
The very fact it's written by 'The New European' immediately discredits anything that is said. Oh...and she writes for Vice.
Whereas you'd say someone NOT writing for this publication, and perhaps for the Mail, Express or Telegraph, would not be discredited, because you agree with them more? Is that it?
 

g23

Always crashing in the same car
I don't really buy that. If that's true, why he's so obsessed about charts? Or break relationships with record companies when he feels that his records are not promoted enough? His biggest contradiction is that he both wants to be blindly adored and spout controversial views. You can't really compare meat eaters to pedophiles and except everybody to love you at the same time.
610YA2LCvwL.jpg
 

g23

Always crashing in the same car
I'm curious if people who speak against the Catholic church are racist also
Touching little boys on the penis isn't a race.
Well, it's a race to see who can touch the most the fastest with some of them, but you know...

Poor defense there, since you know, most of the people shrieking about Muslims are lily-white, and most Muslims are not. You cannot ignore the racial implications since nearly every slur against Muslims doubles as a racial epithet.
 

DreamingofStew

Active Member
Well, I'm not keen to enter into this level of debate, but I don't think the article is well thought out at all. It's just an expression of personal outrage by someone that one of her favourite singers doesn't share her political views. So what?

Calling Morrissey's songs 'idealised' and saying that they refer to an England that never existed is treading a very well worn path that hardly qualifies as thinking at all.

Having said that, and great as Morrissey's influence has been on my own life, he deserves this kind of criticism in the following sense: He is one of the architects (major or minor, at least conspicuous) of the social changes that have given us what many refer to (rather crassly, I think, but with understandable bitterness) as 'generation snowflake'. The politics of the songs have rarely been more informed than, "I feel passionately that this is a great injustice", but somehow - I suppose because they are songs and not columns in, say, The Economist - most of the songs have still managed to say a great deal about what it is to be human, especially at this particular time on Earth. The fact that people have taken pop stars and comedians seriously as political commentators, rather than seeing their songs as a sort of danceable therapy, in the former case, and comedians as, well, comedians, in the latter case, has been one of the most disastrous cultural developments of the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries.

And if Morrissey deserves this kind of whiney, uninformed fan, incapable of any thought beyond "I'm offended", it is also true that they deserve him.
 

Shyness 1s nice

Well-Known Member
 

Shyness 1s nice

Well-Known Member
Although Nigel Farage, who Morrissey says he “likes a great deal”, might like to see himself as a political black sheep, he’s a millionaire public school-educated ex-banker – not an outsider in any real sense.

WRONG WRONG WRONG!

Can we at least have a discussion based on the FACTS.
 

Peanut

Active Member
If you're going to criticise the writer for not stating "the facts", how about telling us why the original article was wrong, in your opinion?
 

Shyness 1s nice

Well-Known Member
If you're going to criticise someone for not stating "the facts", how about telling us why the original poster was wrong, in your opinion?
It's not 'In my opinion'. Nigel has never been a Banker and as per Nigel himself, he is 'broke'.
 

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