Today’s passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher brings back memories of how artists attacked the Iron Lady over the years.
The pioneering British politician was cheered by the right and, not unexpectedly, booed by liberals the world over. Celebrities wasted no time lambasting her policies and persona, and her death won’t likely stop the venom aimed at Lady Thatcher’s legacy.
Perhaps the ugliest commentary came from Elvis Costello, who dedicated the 1989 song Tramp the Dirt Down to her.
“When England was the whore of the world, Margaret was her Madame,” he warbled, before imagining this very day with bile in his throat.
“Because there’s one thing I know, I’d like to live long enough to savour; That’s when they finally put you in the ground; I’ll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down.”
Far-left British politician George Galloway summoned the song’s title today to mark the former leader’s death.
Costello had previously took on Thatcher’s actions in the Falklands War with the moody protest song Shipbuilding.
“Diving for dear life … when we could be diving for pearls,” wraps the number.
Singer Morrissey took a nasty swipe at Thatcher with Thatcher at the Guilltine in his 1988 disk Viva Hate, with the following lyrics:
“The kind people, Have a wonderful dream, Margaret on the guillotine; Cause people like you, Make me feel so tired.”
The patchwork musical movement known as Red Wedge also rose up during the 1980s as a direct retort to Thatcher’s reign.
Red Wedge, an anti-Thatcher movement formed in the run-up to the 1987 election, brought together a grouping of musicians including The Clash, Paul Weller, The Communards, Madness, Billy Bragg, The Smiths and Elvis Costello.
They played benefit gigs to raise money for striking miners and urging people to vote Labour, while underground events sprung up with concerts and exhibitions in warehouses, or home-made CDs to bypass music corporations.
Comics maestro Alan Moore’s dystopian tyranny V for Vendetta took aim at Thatcher’s England as well, although by the time the film version hit theaters the target of opportunity changed to American President George W. Bush.
Years later, The Weinstein Company hired Meryl Streep to play Thatcher in the 2011 film The Iron Lady. The result? An odd biopic, one which insults her memory by framing the story around her dementia-filled existence, with flashbacks paying some proper tribute to her intellect, stamina and political courage.
Oscar voters didn’t embrace the film but they did give Streep her third Oscar for her stunning portrayal of the political giant.
UPDATE: Morrissey doubled down on his previous hate, responding to Thatcher’s death today with a rancid essay capped by this quote: “Thatcher was a terror without an atom of humanity.”