High Court Judges with Northern Accents
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Does Morrissey’s Latest Controversy Mean We Need to Create Distinction Between the Artist and the Music?
THE BBC raised an interesting point…
in an article that asked whether it is possible to separate an artist like Morrissey from his music. I will crib a section from an NME article that outlined the latest controversies and contradictions from the always-nuts world of Morrissey:
Now, in a new blog post, Morrissey has voiced his support for For Britain, the far-right party founded by Anne Marie Waters. Waters formed the party following her departure from UKIP after Nigel Farage dubbed the activist and her supporters “Nazis and racists”.
“I despise racism,” Morrissey writes in his post, which takes its title ‘I’ve Been Dreaming Of A Time When / the English / are sick to death of Labour and Tories’ from the singer’s ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’ lyric.
“I despise fascism,” he adds, continuing: “I would do anything for my Muslim friends, and I know they would do anything for me”.
This is not, as we know, the first time the legendary songwriter has been embroiled in scandal. It seems odd, for a man who seems so against and horrified by racism he would align himself with a far-right organisation. He has taken to the stage to attack, well…anything and everyone.
Maybe it is the ongoing violence in London or the chemical attacks in Syria – maybe he has a bad case of piles and wanted to vent at the world! Whatever has rattled the parrot in his cage; it is clear the Mancunian icon needs to calm it down a bit. Existing and life-long fans have been turning their support away from the songwriter and criticising his words. I can understand why someone like Morrissey would feel enraged and annoyed at the world. We know spiky and open songwriters like Mark E. Smith tend to leave the filter behind and say whatever comes to mind – the fact he is no longer with us leaves a bit of a gap. What bugs me is the fact Morrissey has a platform where he can inspire and act as an inspiration. I can approve of his attack of the P.M. and the way of Government are handling the affairs of the nation. Morrissey went after London Mayor Sadiq Khan – a semi-racist and noxious slight... – and accused him of lacking any love and respect. Mayor Khan is doing the best he can and, whether you like him or not; he is not culpable for the spate of murders in the capital. Morrissey’s usual ‘meat-is-murder-and-people-who-eat-it-are-wankers' rant came out – he needs to update and polish that tired argument! – and, although I am a pescatarian myself; he is winning no new fans by being so angered and spiteful.
PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash
He is allowed his own politics and agendas – one feels he has been saying the same thing for decades and it has not changed things for the better. Many might argue the fact Morrissey is adding nothing new to the cauldron of controversy should not irk people too much. Morrissey's blog piece (reported by NME) raised eyebrows:
“In his post, Morrissey describes Labour as “hopelessly naive,” Prime Minister Theresa May as having “turned Britain into a international target” with her policies and the “Loony Left” as “concerned only with victim culture”.
He accuses the press of making “inflammatory and unjust comments against any new party that threatens the same old bloody pointless two-party system”.
“Please give For Britain a chance,” Morrissey appeals again. “They will bring an end to the modern Westminster mania for self-destruction. For Britain is the bulldog breed that will never surrender. Both Labour and Conservatives have already sold you down the river into righteous oblivion.”
“This is my last political strike,” Moz adds. “No wish to upset anyone! But the time has come to fight, and Labour and the Conservatives have their backs to the sea. Are you capable of change?”
Morrissey has given his views about the Kevin Spacey-Harvey Weinstein scandal – rationalising their crimes and being rather naïve about the seriousness – and has barely said a positive and nation-unifying thing since his days in The Smiths.
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This brings me to the issue of the music vs. the artist. We can separate the two but they are intrinsically linked. People, young and old, listen to a musician’s work and they are going to be interested in what they say. What grinds my gears is the strength of Morrissey’s music and how he and fellow artists have inspired the music world. Outspoken musicians such as Liam Gallagher have never been short of oxygen and outrage – most of Liam Gallagher’s anger and comments are aimed at his brother, Noel. In fact; Liam does not attack every politician out there and alienate himself from the rest of the world. I listen to Morrissey’s music and it can be hard keeping my brain engaged and my mind focused. I always think about things he comes out with and wonder, truly, if he wants people like me listening to his songs. You can separate a musician from their songs – that does not mean you respect them and do not judge them when they say something stupid. A musician’s primary job is to provide fantastic sounds and do the best they can in the industry. Part of their job entails being responsible and trying to inspire those who follow them. There is a difference between rebellion and a Rock and Roll spirit compared to those who court condemnation and judgment.
IN THIS IMAGE: Liam Gallagher
Many have marked the death of Morrissey as a force in the industry. If you judge his earliest bloom (1984) and his latest album (Low in High School was released last year) – have we finally had enough of the icon?! Low in High School had some good moments but was a definite deterioration and slump compared to some of his recent albums. My favourite moments from Morrissey’s solo career come around 1992-1994. I love Your Arsenal (1992) and it seemed, after a fairly unbalanced start to his solo life, he was hitting the stride we knew he was capable of. That album was full of swagger, bite and hard-hitting, brain-buzzing tunes. Vauxhall & I, the fan favourite, was released in 1994 and kept that pace and genius alight. If one wants an abridged history of Morrissey’s barbed and scathing comments; you need only look at a Rolling Stone article from 2013:
“When Morrissey blamed Beyoncé for the near-extinction of the rhinoceros at a Los Angeles show last week – "The rhino is now more or less extinct, and it's not because of global warming or shrinking habitats. It's because of Beyoncé's handbags" – it was only the latest in a decades-long series of pointedly provocative comments by the ex-Smiths singer and animal rights activist. Earlier in the week, Morrissey refused to appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live! because the cast of pro-hunting reality series Duck Dynasty were slated to be fellow guests. Kimmel bashed Morrissey on the show and aired a parody Duck cast-as-vegans clip; Morrissey responded in typically withering fashion, saying Kimmel "found time to jokingly promote gun-ownership – hugely amusing for the parents at Sandy Hook, no doubt" and claiming that "Jimmy Kimmel himself has finally revealed his show to have an overwhelming loss of meaning."
But animal rights is only one of Morrissey's pet issues. The singer also has a history of lashing out at the British royal family – and pretty much anything and anyone else he feels like. Some of his outbursts have drawn accusations of racism; others, merely poor taste. And some are just funny. Here are Morrissey's most vicious disses, bon mots and general nastiness:
· 2013: Morrissey refers to David and Victoria Beckham as "The Peckhams," describes them as "insufferable" and says they should be "dragged to the edge of the village and flogged."
· 2012: Morrissey links the suicide of a London nurse to the Duchess Kate Middleton. "There's no blame placed at Kate Middleton, who was in the hospital for, as far as I can see, absolutely no reason . . . She feels no shame about the death of this woman. The arrogance of the British royals is staggering, absolutely staggering."
· 2012: Morrissey has his band wear "We Hate William and Kate" shirts onstage.
· 2012: In an open letter to his fan club, Morrissey rips into the "blustering jingoism" of the London Olympics, comparing the mood in the U.K. to Nazi Germany. "The 'dazzling royals' have, quite naturally, hijacked the Olympics for their own empirical needs, and no oppositional voice is allowed in the free press. . . The spirit of 1939 Germany now pervades throughout media-brand Britain."
· 2011: In an interview with Billboard, Morrissey calls Lady Gaga"nothing new" and says her style is "fraudulent, and the exact opposite of erotic." He also refers to Madonna as "McDonna" and says Michael Bublé is "famous and meaningless."
· 2011: Of the Norway massacre in which 77 people died, Morrissey heralds to a Warsaw crowd, "That is nothing compared to what happens in McDonald's and Kentucky Fried shit every day."
PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash
· 2010: Discussing animal cruelty in China, Morrissey tells The Guardian, "You can't help but feel that the Chinese people are a subspecies."
· 2009: Morrissey leaves the stage at Coachella, explaining "The smell of burning animals is making me sick. I can smell burning flesh . . . and I hope to God it's human."
· 2002: From documentary The Importance of Being Morrissey: "Bring me the head of Elton John . . . which is one instance in which meat would not be murder, if it were served on a plate."
· 1997: Morrissey bashes Madonna again. "Madonna reinforces everything absurd and offensive. Desperate womanhood. Madonna is closer to organized prostitution than anything else."
· 1994: When asked about an incident in which an Australian student shot a starting pistol at the Prince of Wales, Morrissey responds, "I wish that Prince Charles had been shot. I think it would have made the world a more interesting place."
· 1992: Morrissey knocks dance music. "It's the refuge for the mentally deficient. It's made by dull people for dull people."
· 1985: Morrissey slams the charity group Band Aid and its co-founder. "Bob Geldof is a nauseating character. Band Aid was the most self-righteous platform ever in the history of popular music."
· 1984: Morrissey blasts the Cure. "Robert Smith is a whingebag."
· 1984: Morrissey laments the failed assassination attempt on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher after the Brighton hotel bombing. "The sorrow of the IRA Brighton bombing is that Thatcher escaped unscathed."
I am a big fan of Morrissey’s stance on animal rights and the fact he does, deep down, have a love of Britain and wanting to keep the people safe. I have quoted so heavily from other sources because we need the facts in front of us – my personal views should not muddy the water and create bias.
It seems like artists who command respect and assume a sphere of influence should be more pragmatic and conscientious when it comes to what they say. A lot of media sources have attacked Morrissey and questioned what is happening with him. He has suffered health issues through the years and struggled with mental-health issues – should this be used as a justifiable excuse?! Other mainstream artists have anger and things to say to those in a position of leadership. They are better at articulating that frustration through something productive and inoffensive. One can look at comments made by the likes of Stormzy – who has voiced his opinions on the Government following the handling of the Grenfell tragedy – but his anger is motivated by that one event. He is not someone who takes swipes at multiple sectors of society and claims racism is bad – only to side with a party who are known for their radical views and hatred. I still listen to Morrissey’s music but am getting more and more bored of the man who created such brilliant albums. It is sad to think that the former Smiths frontman who, alongside Johnny Marr, penned some of the finest songs of the 1980s, has now been reduced to a rather bitter and bile-spewing middle-aged man who is tainting his legacy. He may loathe racism and oppression: the fact he is throwing his weight behind For Britain. His misguided comments and outbursts may not destroy his legacy and music; what they do is give the music an unwanted…
PHOTO CREDIT: Nick Knight for The Face, 1984.
TASTE of bitterness.