Morrissey is anti-immigrant and backs a white nationalist political party. Why don’t fans care? - Los Angeles Times
By Randall Roberts
The singer, who plays the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, has always enjoyed a special bond with his Southern California fans. But could hateful remarks about immigrants spoil that?
Los Angeles Councilwoman Rodriguez, who facilitated the city’s 2017 Morrissey Day celebration, stresses this distinction between art and artist. Asked whether the singer’s recent provocations have caused her to reassess her fandom or the wisdom of her resolution, she says no. “Morrissey has had a long history of saying controversial commentary about England and the monarchy. I think it’s part of what he has always been.” She and her family have tickets to Saturday’s Bowl concert.
On a larger level, Rodriguez adds, “Everyone in this country and anywhere, in my belief, is entitled to their opinions, even if I am not a proponent of that mindset.” Artists have permission to be controversial, she says. “It is, by nature, art.”
That doesn’t mean Morrissey should get a pass, says Nic Harcourt, a morning drive-time DJ for KCSN and music supervisor. For a long time, Harcourt chose to laugh off many of Morrissey’s public rows. The singer even did a guest DJ session with Harcourt when the latter hosted “Mornings Become Eclectic” on KCRW.
“He’s always flirted with this right-wing thing. This didn’t just suddenly happen,” Harcourt says. Something has shifted, though, and it prompted a reckoning. “When he made it so obvious earlier this year, I decided I wasn’t going to play his music anymore on the radio.” (Harcourt stresses that he’s speaking as a DJ and not as a spokesman for KCSN.)
Morrissey’s manager, Katsis, said that most frustrating to him is that, artistically, his client is at the top of his game. The shows have been phenomenal, but the media is focused on what Morrissey says offstage. “It’s just his opinion, and it’s taken as gospel. That’s the most bizarre part of it.”
Katsis adds, “Everyone keeps repeating that Morrissey said, ‘The Chinese are a subspecies.’ That comment was made about the Chinese government, and everybody has problems with the way they treat people.” Katsis says that he recently received a request from a promoter for his client to play concerts in China. Morrissey wants to play there but wondered, “Do you think they’d let me in the country?”
Such tensions can drive great art, and can prompt an essential question on fandom: Which is more powerful, the thrill that rushes into your spirit when you connect with a song or album, or the disappointment that comes with realizing you don’t share essential values with its creator?
“Fandom is very personal,” says “Mozlandia” author Hidalgo. “It’s about the self. It’s selfish. You’re going to like something you like, and no one in the world is going to tell you not to do it. Because if they tell you not to do it, you’ll do it even more.”
- Open Letter to the LA Times re: Morrissey - For Britain (October 30, 2019)