We’ve lost our boy
This post has been a long time coming.
If you have known me in real life, or even virtually over the past decade, you will probably have come to associate me with Morrissey.
Since I was a young person growing up in an Australian seaside town that they forgot to close down, Morrissey was a pillar of strength, artistry, and justice in my life.
I struggled through personal upheavals and a tumultuous few decades, all the while using the crutch of Morrissey’s art to prop me up. I found support in his words, using his songs to craft a soundtrack of my life.
As I explored my vegetarian and then vegan concerns, I became even more emotionally linked to Morrissey. I was finding ways to become an advocate for animal welfare just as Morrissey was doing on a global stage.
Songs I would listen to when feeling sad were Morrissey songs. When I was happy? Morrissey. I had different Morrissey mix tapes for different activities. Songs for dancing alone, songs for drinking with friends, songs I would send to men I fancied, and songs that I might want played at my funeral. All Morrissey.
I really believed that I would go to my grave listening to Morrissey. My devotion was unwavering.
But here we are in 2018.
I don’t need to recap all of the problematic things Morrissey has said over recent years. Even if for some reason you don’t find them problematic, you are still aware of them. They are reported widely and because they make great clickbait, we are inundated by headlines such as Morrissey reignites racism row by calling Chinese a ‘subspecies’.
My love for Morrissey was so unwavering that it took years of these questionable statements before reality seeped into my brain and my heart in a way that I couldn’t ignore. I’m ashamed on a profound level that I purchased music and concert tickets from an artist who was becoming known for promoting bigoted views.
A few years ago it stopped. I had to stop.
No matter how much Morrissey was responsible for giving my tormented adolescence and my tortured extended adolescence a framework to help me survive, I could no longer idolise or even enjoy the music being released when it was bookended with interviews in which the artist would sing the praises of anti-Islamic, anti-immigrant politicians and political groups.
The final nail in my Morrissey coffin was delivered today in a frankly vulgar interview published by a website called Morrissey Central.
You can read the full interview here but horrific highlights include:
- Morrissey ridiculing the Mayor of London’s accent and declaring, because of the way he speaks, civilisation is over
- Morrissey making the claim that Hitler was politically Left Wing
- Morrissey expressing concern that far-right, anti-Islam political group For Britain does not get fair representation in UK media
- Morrissey stating that all acid attacks are by non-white people and the perpetrators of these crimes are somehow protected because of their minority status
These statements are not something to be ignored or swept aside. They are the language of right wing propaganda. It is not simply a case of disagreeing with a few of Morrissey’s key talking points. I wholeheartedly reject his support of far-right politicians who stand on a platform of division, Islamaphobia, and the promotion of a pure Britain.
In a conversation with a Morrissey fan on Twitter today, I was told by the fan that she was able to put Morrissey’s views aside. She claimed that he has a right to free speech and she would never be cruel about someone’s personal views by speaking up against them.
This is a nothing short of a perverse example of hiding behind privilege.
It is our duty as compassionate humans to speak out against all forms of racist and bigoted language, especially the promotion of far-right political parties that are focussed on bigoted public policy.
Morrissey saved my life with his music, but you have got to be fucking joking if you think that means I am going to sit around and not say anything about his outrageous statements laced with the language of the far-right.
People who perpetuate racism by using hateful language need to be held accountable, not celebrated. Morrissey’s dedication to saving animals does not give him a free pass when it comes to the promotion of For Britain. His cultural legacy does not make space for him to perpetuate dangerous ideas without serious and determined critique.
His support of this party is abhorrent, troubling, and extremely problematic.
A few weeks ago, Morrissey played a gig just a few miles from my apartment here in Mexico City. I didn’t go. I was offered a free ticket by a friend and I still didn’t go.
What sort of person am I if I cannot stand by my convictions? What sort of human am I if I make excuses to see an artist who repeatedly presents as the mouth piece for far-right Britain?
Saying goodbye to a childhood hero is difficult. I still occasionally listen to old Smiths and Morrissey songs but unless he has a radical shift in the language he uses and the bigoted views he promotes, I will never buy another musical release or concert ticket until the day I die.
Now, who can help me pick out a new funeral song?
Extra: I do not know that Morrissey is personally racist and I am not declaring him to be racist. I am stating that I will not support an artist who uses language associated with far-right politicians that, in my mind, is dripping with racially-charged and bigoted overtones. I will also continue to speak up against people who use such language.