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December 1, 2007 4:21 PM   Subscribe

Morrissey makes some controversial remarks to the NME. Defensive explanations by the interviewer, attempts at defusing the situation and threats of legal action ensue, as does satire.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (53 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
true-to-you.net has the latest dirt.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:21 PM on December 1, 2007


He's human, and he needs to be loved, just like everybody else does.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:27 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, it's a well-established fact that Morrissey is a terrorist.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:30 PM on December 1, 2007


It's not what he said that's so depressing, it's his "Giggle-giggle-I'm-being-controversial-me " manner that is sad to witness. I put my smiths/moz records in the Oxfam pile a long, long time ago.
posted by gatchaman at 4:31 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's nothing. You should hear him play piano.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:42 PM on December 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


I posted here recently about running into an old friend -- ex music journalist -- that I hadn't seen for over ten years. When we first met, he ran a punk fanzine and was an active member of the Labour Party. However, after a few hours of conversation, he started to explain how Britain had been sold out by our politicians. How we were being overrun by immigrants, and how black people never contributed anything to the areas where they settled, but only ever destroyed the neighbourhood.

Although I couldn't quite grasp the relationship at the time, while he was engaged in this rant, he was telling me that he was a big Morrisey fan. According to him, Morrisey was one of the few people in public life who 'gets it' and isn't afraid to speak out about the issue. He cited 'Bengali in Platforms' as an example of his insight.

Presumably, if this guy was anything to go by, Morrisey uses his music as a platform and has a big following of people who share these views.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:32 PM on December 1, 2007


...an extraordinary kerfuffle...

Quite.

posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:32 PM on December 1, 2007


Kind of ironic for a man of Irish descent in England to be saying such things, NTM a guy with a legion of Chicano fans.

(no, I'm not secretly enjoying this)
posted by jonmc at 5:44 PM on December 1, 2007


Didn't Siouxsie Sioux call him a fascist in the early 90s after they worked together (in Option or NME or something)? Or did I just click the wrong link?
posted by sleepy pete at 5:48 PM on December 1, 2007


Morrissey's genius has always been in giving words for uncomfortable thoughts. Mostly those thoughts have been about lust and longing, but there has always been alienation and group identity in there too. His lyrics carry strong "I really shouldn't be feeling this way"-vibe, but in interviews he seems to be trying to more defensive about the person he is dissecting in lyrics, and that's very natural: if you're not easy for yourself in your mind, you'll end up excepting others constantly attacking you too.

So he says things that for others get self-censored, because that is the material he works with, but he cannot improvise the necessarily balanced counterpoint in real-time, so instead of songs, these interview pieces read more like titles for coming songs that still need lots of work.

It is always fascinating and bit frustrating to see him interviewed, he clearly has difficulties keeping on with the rhythms of interviewers, always ducking, escaping and nervous.
posted by Free word order! at 5:49 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Neither Morrissey nor NME seem relevant in modern music anymore.

But at least the satire link was genius: "Generally speaking, I like to write songs about people killing themselves because they're simply too English to go on living."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:51 PM on December 1, 2007


Can't we please just let him get what he wants?

Although the use of language like "the gates are flooded, anybody can have access to England" is perhaps unfortunate when taken out of context, in the context of the interview his position is remarkably similar to that adopted by all three mainstream political parties in this country - that immigration is beneficial but shouldn't be a free for all, nor should it be contrary to the retention of a firm and recognisably British national and cultural identity. Without wishing to sound like his hero Kenneth Williams, the latter is the central thrust of Morrissey's position.

Morrissey is a moderate. Gasp.
posted by craniac at 6:24 PM on December 1, 2007


I put my smiths/moz records in the Oxfam pile a long, long time ago.

Surely the poor have suffered enough already, you monster!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:31 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


When I went to London, I seldom heard a British accent.

I'm racist too! If I hadn't been racist, the guys running the internet cafe would have stopped being Russian, the folks at the hotel would have stopped being Indian and Slovakian, and the staff at the kebab shop would have all instantly become Liverpudlians!
posted by Bugbread at 7:01 PM on December 1, 2007


Also, it's a well-established fact that Morrissey is a terrorist.

That's what happen when you go setting hairdressers on fire.
posted by jonp72 at 7:07 PM on December 1, 2007


Morrissey's only mistake is granting interviews to the NME. He should know better.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:28 PM on December 1, 2007


Morrissey has always flirted with the far right, using imagery and references to skinheads, the National Front, Oi! music and so on.

Personally, I wouldn't entirely discount the simplest explanation: that he wears racist emblems and says racist things because he's a racist.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:38 AM on December 2, 2007


I'm racist too! If I hadn't been racist, the guys running the internet cafe would have stopped being Russian

So are you also complaining about England's culture being swamped by these immigrants, Bugbread? Nobody's complaining because Morrissey sees different ethnic origins and identities. The complaint is that he thinks Johnny Foreigner is diluting our superior English culture. Is that too complex a notion for you to grasp?

Morrissey's only mistake is granting interviews to the NME.

Perhaps he'll avoid this mistake by sticking to ideologically sympatico magazines like Spearhead in the future.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:59 AM on December 2, 2007


There's also some wonderful comments from the readers on the NME's messageboard.
posted by tapeguy at 3:25 AM on December 2, 2007


PeterMcDermott writes "So are you also complaining about England's culture being swamped by these immigrants, Bugbread? Nobody's complaining because Morrissey sees different ethnic origins and identities. The complaint is that he thinks Johnny Foreigner is diluting our superior English culture. Is that too complex a notion for you to grasp?"

Except for the part with "superior". From what I can tell, he's saying he loved Britain the way it was, and the influx of Johnny Foreigner is changing that. I don't see anywhere where he says it's superior, just a lot of people who say things like "he uses arguments that racists use, so he must be a racist". They're adding complexity to a situation which has too little information to ascertain.

Do I think he could be racist? Hell, yeah. It's very very possible. But he hasn't said enough to determine that for sure. Instead, people seem to be pulling the "You said the US government has done reprehensible things. That's a favorite argument used by terrorists. Thus, you are a terrorist sympathizer" card. Maybe he's racist, maybe he isn't. I haven't seen enough information to determine one way or the other.

So I don't like to make snap decisions without sufficient evidence. Is that too complex a notion for you to grasp?
posted by Bugbread at 3:27 AM on December 2, 2007


As jonmc pointed out, he certainly has seen Mexican immigration in L.A. as positive, which is not in any way contradictory with seeing last 10 years of changes in London as negative. Things have changed: I don't like this change, it was better in old days -- this one, on other way, has changed to better. It's like redecoration of your favorite/not-so-favorite bar. It can go both ways: the bar can gain new life, but it also can feel that the place has lost its old charms.

Now we can define that conservatives are those who don't like redecorations of bars and progressives are those who like and be right in one sense, but I feel that there are many like Moz who feel themselves as progressive, but still don't like some developments in world around them. Some changes change culture. If you want to connect the dots so, that these who don't like these changes don't like them because they don't like these people because they don't like their culture because they don't like their color, you can do that. You can always do that. Which makes it really difficult to be critical about changes. If you don't like Condoleeza Rice, you don't like black women in power. Connected the dots for you. It is really irritating.
posted by Free word order! at 4:24 AM on December 2, 2007


Old man feels out of place in a world he no longer understands & blames foreigners. News at 11.
posted by seanyboy at 2:17 PM on December 2, 2007


Morrissey's only mistake is granting interviews to the NME. He should know better.

Yes, now he's gonna have to obfuscate wildly.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:49 PM on December 2, 2007


(sorry, i stole that from somebody in a previous mozza thread)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:51 PM on December 2, 2007


I've been stewing over this for days now, and I came to the conclusion that if Tim Jonze's delicate sensibilities have been so offended, he can soothe his soul with the picture of Pete Doherty shooting up that'll be on the cover of next week's NME. Or the imminent Cool List that will inevitably be topped by Pete Doherty, Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen and whatever other no-talents the hacks bright minds over there can come up with.

By the way, I'm a Morrissey fan. Morrissey: the only person I like better than Sparks. And, I do respect him, I should say. But, it's interesting to see everyone get all bent out of shape over these comments. Yes, he has made comments that some have felt were rascist or similar to a 'skinhead ideology'. He's also made fairly violent suggestions about American conservative politicians and non-vegetarian fur-wearers. Funny, can't remember any big to-do about that. I love him, but basically some of the things that he says in interviews aren't worth a second thought.. partly because he often goes and contradicts himself from interview to interview. It's not like this is the first time he's done this. I mean, he's had over twenty years experience of this, so the only thing shocking is that anything Morrissey says can be seen as controversial! Time to move on..
posted by Mael Oui at 7:41 PM on December 2, 2007


Morrissey has always flirted with the far right, using imagery and references to skinheads, the National Front

Morrissey's song The National Front Disco is actually a critique of The National Front. Just saying.
posted by Locative at 1:25 AM on December 3, 2007


Why do the English (I'm Scottish) associate the bearing of flags and nationalist pride with far right racism? I'm proud of my national identity and will happily fly my flag or wear my colours while welcoming people from all nations.

The English suffer from a persecution complex and a national identity crisis. This is most obvious when their national football (soccer) team is playing and it's the only time the country shows nationalist pride - even then, it's done with a tinge of guilt.

England is the most paranoid and hung-up nation, I've ever seen dragged, kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.
posted by DZ-015 at 4:46 AM on December 3, 2007


LOL
posted by seanyboy at 5:28 AM on December 3, 2007


Heaven knows he's risible now.
posted by WPW at 12:38 PM on December 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Morrissey bites back, issues writs & excoriates the NME: Here is proof that the 'new' NME will twist and pervert the views of any singer or musician who'd dare step into the interview ring. To such artists, I wish them well, but I would advise you to bring your lawyer along to the interview.

My own place, now and forevermore, shall not be with the 'new' NME - and how wrong my face even looks on its cover. Of this, I am eternally grateful.

posted by dash_slot- at 4:42 PM on December 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why do the English (I'm Scottish) associate the bearing of flags and nationalist pride with far right racism?

My guess would be becuase of all the far right racists that do it...

tapeguy - wow!
posted by Artw at 11:51 AM on December 4, 2007


Mozza has posted a come back / explanation on the Guardian Blog... "I abhor racism, and apologise - for speaking to NME"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:56 PM on December 4, 2007


Except for the part with "superior". From what I can tell, he's saying he loved Britain the way it was, and the influx of Johnny Foreigner is changing that. I don't see anywhere where he says it's superior, just a lot of people who say things like "he uses arguments that racists use, so he must be a racist".

He's saying he loved Britain the way it was when it was a predominantly white, heterogeneous culture. And if you prefer something, then it's fairly explicit that you believe it to be superior. Why would someone prefer something that you believe was inferior?

As for the thing about him using arguments that racists use, well yeah, I'd have thought that was a pretty good reason not to use them. It lends support and succour to racists, who believe that he lends their arguments credence and legitimacy.

Is it possible that he *isn't* a racist? Well, as you said, I suppose anything is possible. But on ths showing, I'm inclined to agree with the editor of the NME when he says that Morrisey likes black people -- he just doesn't want them living in the same neighbourhood as he does. Which is pretty much what his arguments amount to, right? There's too many of them over here, and the authentic aryan Englishman needs a bit of lebensraum, because without it, the country is going to the dogs.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:09 PM on December 4, 2007


ick. That should be homogeneous culture. Why is it I never see my errors until after I hit return.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:10 PM on December 4, 2007


If you want to connect the dots so, that these who don't like these changes don't like them because they don't like these people because they don't like their culture because they don't like their color, you can do that. You can always do that. Which makes it really difficult to be critical about changes.

Rubbish.

If you don't like the changes that are happening in your cultural environment, then be specific. What are these changes that you don't like? Why don't you like them? Who is it that you believe is responsible for them, and do your beliefs actually match reality.

Cultures are never static -- they're always changing across many different dimensions. Morrissey's problem is that he seems to be attributing all of the negative changes in British culture to immigration. Historically, that's been a polite code for 'the niggers and the pakis are bringing this place to the dogs'. Morrissey isn't stupid or culturally illiterate. He knows that just as well as everybody else does. I'm sure he doesn't *believe* that he's a racist, but I'll judge him on his actions, not his vain but deluded ideas about who he is and what he thinks he stands for.

If it walks like a racist, and talks like a racist, then it damn well deserves to be treated like a racist.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:27 PM on December 4, 2007


PmcD: England did, in fact, have a heterogeneous culture.

Haven't you heard of their rigid class system?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:41 PM on December 4, 2007


PeterMcDermott writes "He's saying he loved Britain the way it was when it was a predominantly white, heterogeneous culture. And if you prefer something, then it's fairly explicit that you believe it to be superior. Why would someone prefer something that you believe was inferior?"

There's more than just superior and inferior in this world. There's also "different". I prefer rock to traditional Thai music. That isn't because I think rock is superior, or that Thai music is inferior. I prefer tomatoes to broccoli, but, again, I don't think tomatoes are superior to broccoli. I prefer an Edinburgh accent to a Bronx accent, and, again, no superiority or inferiority. I'd wager, in fact, that the vast majority of our likes and dislikes aren't based on belief of superiority. It's only teenage wankers on the internet who go on about how they like Slipknot more than Linkin Park because "Slipknot is way fuckin' better, and Linkin Park sucks!"
posted by Bugbread at 6:53 PM on December 4, 2007


Is there some way we can link the [NOT RACIST] argument up with the [NOT SEXIST] argument over here?
posted by Artw at 10:48 PM on December 4, 2007


You know, I prefer the city I grew up in to the city I live in now, because I can walk down the street and see families I've known since primary school. That preference doesn't indicate any belief in 'superiority', rather it's about a liking for the familiar. People from other places moving in makes things different: disliking and complaining about this is old man syndrome, but it's definitely not confined to old men. Specific changes that are caused by immigration are accents, popular sports, local take-away options - a shitload of things that make a real difference to people's lives. Not liking the fact that the fish and chip shop is being turned into a Thai restaurant does not make anyone a racist.
posted by jacalata at 4:45 AM on December 5, 2007


Racism isn't disliking changes brought on by immigrants, it's disliking immigrants. Now, the first is very often used as a smokescreen for the second, but that doesn't make them the same thing. "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck" is a great pithy little slogan, but the fact is, if Sony made an Aibo shaped like a duck, it would not actually be a duck. "If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, there's a high probability that it's a duck" is less pithy and quotable, but far more accurate. So Morrissey may very well be racist, but what he's said is only enough to determine that he may very well be racist, not enough to determine that he is.
posted by Bugbread at 6:27 AM on December 5, 2007


Artw,
That's a spot on link - talk about identical twin arguments!

It shows it doesn't matter what the particular subject is - you just use the same techniques to refuse to budge from the position you held in the first place.


Thanks!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:55 AM on December 5, 2007


goodnewsfortheinsane - Thanks!
posted by Artw at 9:21 AM on December 5, 2007


goodnewsfortheinsane writes "It shows it doesn't matter what the particular subject is - you just use the same techniques to refuse to budge from the position you held in the first place."

I'm not sure if you're criticising the people who think George Best was sexist, the people who said he wasn't, the people who were unsure, the people who think Morrissey is sexist, the people who think he isn't, or the people who are unsure. Or, in fact, all 6 groups.
posted by Bugbread at 10:05 AM on December 5, 2007


There's more than just superior and inferior in this world. There's also "different".

Ah yes. The whole 'seperate but equal' thesis. Black people and white people don't get on. They aren't 'inferior', they're just 'different'. Both lots prefer to spend time with their own. Therefore, it makes sense that we should limit black people to the townships and prevent them from living in white areas. Not because they're inferior, simply because they're somehow 'different'. Back of the bus for you, boy.

I've got a different recollection of this supposed 'golden age' that Morrissey yearns for. It was an age marked by things like the 'sus' laws, when black people couldn't walk down the streets without being stopped by the police and charged with 'suspicion of loitering with criminal intent'. By no go areas, in which black and asians couldn't go out shopping or clubbing in our city centres, for fear of arrest or racist attack. By living in a city with the oldest black community in the UK, where you *never* saw a single black face in gainful public employment, let alone in a position of power and authority.

What bothers these people who yearn for this golden age of the past isn't that their friends have changed neighbourhoods, or that they have more choice in restaurants. It's that people who once knew their place no longer do so, and feel comfortable taking the jobs and walking the streets that the indigenous white British population felt they owned.

So even if Morrissey doesn't happen to be personally racist, his stated views feed into and support a long history of racism, both structural and personal that has cursed this country since the 50's and therefore should be condemned for that reason, even if none of the others apply.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:32 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


(stupid angry response)Ah yes. The whole 'walks like duack, quakes like duck, treat as a duck' thesis. Used by every racist prejudice. You see signifying features, you don't have to look any further, you have enough to make your mind. That Guardian response, ignore it, he's just trying to look like he's not what he essentially is. He and us must be driving this 'separate and equal thesis' because it fits to duck profile.(/stupid angry response)

I'll return this when I'm in nicer mood. Now I cannot really connect this golden age of yours with Morrissey lyrics I know. I really hope we can find a middle ground in this, I hate it when communication fails.
posted by Free word order! at 5:25 PM on December 5, 2007


PeterMcDermott writes "Ah yes. The whole 'seperate but equal' thesis. Black people and white people don't get on. They aren't 'inferior', they're just 'different'. Both lots prefer to spend time with their own. Therefore, it makes sense that we should limit black people to the townships and prevent them from living in white areas. Not because they're inferior, simply because they're somehow 'different'. Back of the bus for you, boy."

What a shitty argument. Glad you're the only person in this thread who has said it or anything like it. But it helps a little in understanding why you're so quick to jump to conclusions: you don't believe the words you read, you just using them as a jumping point for your own little conspiracy theories. "He said he likes something - he must be saying it's superior!". "He said it's not superior - he must be a segregationist!"

PeterMcDermott writes "I've got a different recollection of this supposed 'golden age' that Morrissey yearns for. It was an age marked by things like the 'sus' laws, when black people couldn't walk down the streets without being stopped by the police and charged with 'suspicion of loitering with criminal intent'. By no go areas, in which black and asians couldn't go out shopping or clubbing in our city centres, for fear of arrest or racist attack. By living in a city with the oldest black community in the UK, where you *never* saw a single black face in gainful public employment, let alone in a position of power and authority."

Well, then, just fucking say that. Stop with all the cloak and dagger assuming the worst and misreading every statement shit, and about 500 lines up, point out what was wrong with the times Morrissey yearns for.
posted by Bugbread at 6:39 PM on December 5, 2007


"He said it's not superior - he must be a segregationist!"

I'm not suggesting anything of the sort. I'm simply pointing out how the rhetorical tropes that you're using in this thread have, like Morrissey's, been traditionally used by racists to justify their prejudice and support an unequitable status quo. I've no more idea whether you're a segregationist any more than Morrissey is a racist. I can only go by what you write.

But hey, there's none so blind as a fanboy discovering their idols have feet of clay. I sympathize. Truly.

Well, then, just fucking say that.

I just did.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:05 PM on December 7, 2007


Not liking the fact that the fish and chip shop is being turned into a Thai restaurant does not make anyone a racist.

No. It just means that their taste is up their arse.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:29 PM on December 7, 2007


Just to defend my reputation here: I eat and cook Thai waay more than I eat fish and chips - I was just trying to think of a stereotypical british institution that could be displaced by immigrant tastes.
posted by jacalata at 12:22 AM on December 8, 2007


PeterMcDermott writes "I'm simply pointing out how the rhetorical tropes that you're using in this thread have, like Morrissey's, been traditionally used by racists to justify their prejudice and support an unequitable status quo."

I am aware and totally agree that that rhetoric is traditionally used by racists. What I've been saying this whole thread is "this argument is traditionally used by group X" does not mean, ipso facto, "and thus you are a member of group X". So Morrissey very well may be a racist, but the fact that he used rhetoric traditionally used by racists is insufficient alone to come to that conclusion.

PeterMcDermott writes "I can only go by what you write.

"But hey, there's none so blind as a fanboy discovering their idols have feet of clay. I sympathize. Truly."


Er...if you can only go by what I write, then where does the "fanboy" and "idol" thing come from? I'm not a Morrissey fan.

PeterMcDermott writes "I just did."

Ok, what I meant was "somewhere near the start of the thread, not 4 days later".
posted by Bugbread at 12:35 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


you guys can really overthink a hate of has-beens.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:16 AM on December 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


But while it’s surely the duty of all Western artists of Morrissey’s stature to court controversy from time to time, even if it’s merely to jerk people out of their Spice Girls Reunion/Peter’n’Jordan stasis, the ex-Smiths singer would do well to remember that, however much he claims to love England, the evidence is clear that he loves this country only enough to have emigrated. And like many ex-pats, he wants us poor saps to become guardians of his imaginary ‘60s Carry On England while he’s off abroad being a foreigner. In the same interview, Morrissey complained that in London: “You’ll hear every accent under the sun apart from the British accent.” Well, when he’s back home in LA, aren’t locals complaining about his foreign accent every time he pops into the corner deli?

Juliann Cope sticks the boot in
posted by Artw at 12:28 PM on December 17, 2007


While I still love the Mozzer, Julian (once again) proves he's a fuckin' GOD.
posted by black8 at 1:28 PM on December 17, 2007


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