For maybe the first time in their deluded, cosseted, snowflake bubble lives, progressive music fans are finally getting a taste of something that conservative music fans have to put up with all the time: the misery of discovering that your pop icon hero just doesn’t share your politics.
Enter Morrissey – singer-songwriter, formerly of arguably the Eighties’ greatest indie rock band The Smiths – who has just killed the dreams and hopes of an entire progressive generation by saying lots of politically incorrect things in interviews and on his website.
An outraged Guardian has helpfully produced a list of his worst offences. They include:
Denouncing halal meat as “evil”: “halal slaughter requires certification that can only be given by supporters of Isis”
Refusing to agree with UK Prime Minister Theresa May that the Muslim festival of Eid is a joyous celebration: “as millions of animals had their throats slit to mark the occasion. I wondered what kind of compassion she could possibly have.”
Speaking less than highly of London Mayor Sadiq Khan: “London is debased. The mayor of London tells us about ‘neighbourhood policin’’ … this is the mayor of London! And he cannot talk properly!”
Deriding UK Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott: “Even Tesco wouldn’t employ her.”
Failing to accept that Hitler was on the far right: “As far as racism goes, the modern loony left seem to forget that Hitler was leftwing,”
Denying that racism is by far the worst crime in the world: “When someone calls you racist, what they are saying is: hmm, you actually have a point, and I don’t know how to answer it, so perhaps if I distract you by calling you a bigot we’ll both forget how enlightened your comment was.”
Being pro-Brexit: “People wanted to leave the EU because of the complete erosion of freedom under EU rules, and the fair-minded majority now see in even more frightening ways how very much they are hated by the EU, not to mention the British political elite.”
Needless to say, lots of Morrissey fans are very upset that they will no longer be able to listen to What Difference Does It Make? or Cemetry Gates or Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others ever again without imagining their ex-hero in a Union flag waistcoat and jackboots, stamping all over their dreams of a bright, progressive, multicultural future where everyone is free to eat ritually slaughtered meat in a strong, united, Islamified Europe.
My #Morrissey journey:
1 blind adoration
2 he’s just being controversial for attention
3 OK he’s got problematic views but hey he’s a troubled genius
4 young Morrissey would hate old Morrissey
5 yeah Mozza’s a proper racist & I can’t listen to his music without remembering that
— Phil Slarks (@PhilSlarks) April 17, 2018
Thanks to #Morrissey I became vegetarian at 12. Think of all the meat I could’ve eaten if I’d known what a t**t he was.
— Victoria Broadley (@broadleygirl) April 17, 2018
— amanda hugandkiss Ⓥ (@wendybyrdm) April 17, 2018
Except, as Brendan O’Neill rightly pointed out at the time of Morrissey’s previous flirtation with controversy, Morrissey only doing here what true rock n roll stars are supposed: kicking against the traces, lashing out at the Establishment.
From mocking the monarchy on the 1986 Smiths album The Queen is Dead, to his lovely ballad about how much he wanted Margaret Thatcher to die, to his frequent foot-stomping over the meat industry, the music industry and industry in general, this Mancunian contrarian, this gobby quiff-sporter, has never been shy about shooting off his mouth at powerful people who irritate him. Now he’s at it again. Only this time he’s saved his ire for the new establishment: the PC, sex-panicking, Brexitphobic bores who make up the 21st-century chattering class.
Risking his national-treasure status — which, let’s face it, was rusty — Moz’s every utterance now seems designed to make this new elite barf into its muesli. Where they weep over Brexit, and the thick throng that voted for it, Moz says Brexit was a ‘victory for democracy’. Where they view Israel as source of much of the world’s grief, he has penned a six-minute lovesong to Israel on his new album. Where they worship at the altar of multiculturalism — having disappeared so far up the fundament of identity politics that they think it’s tantamount to a hate crime to say that any one way of life is better than another — Morrissey says ‘if you try to make everything multicultural, you end up with no culture at all’. This is a man in revolt. And it’s wonderful.
No industry in the world right now, not even Hollywood, is as nauseatingly woke as the music industry. It’s so relentlessly PC you aren’t even allowed to be apolitical – as Taylor Swift discovered last year when she refused to join the chorus of musicians denouncing Donald Trump. In an unsigned editorial, the Guardian got about as close as the laws of libel allowed to accuse her of being a borderline Nazi:
Her silence is striking, highlighting the parallels between the singer and the president: their adept use of social media to foster a diehard support base; their solipsism; their laser focus on the bottom line; their support among the ‘alt-right.’”
So for Morrissey – still, for many music fans of a certain age, the greatest of Eighties icons – to speak truth to power in this way is an act of almost suicidal courage and heroic cussedness. As Brendan O’Neill says, he is the last of the true rock n roll rebels – and we should salute him for it.