A Farewell to Charms?

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Picture courtesy of Phil Pearson

I have a feeling that the end has arrived.

When Morrissey landed into the public’s consciousness he did so with no little charm and a fair amount of style.

He was a charming man, a handsome devil, imploring us to accept ourselves, flinging Oscar Wilde and gladioli at us with gay abandon.

Then he became a solo star and he added a bit of raw sexuality (just look at the video for “November Spawned a Monster”) and conquered America.

All the while he promoted gay icons through his cover stars, put feminist icons like Germaine Greer and Linder into the minds and bedrooms of working class boys across the globe and showed disdain for the establishment.

Of course there were other moments that caused some concern…the accusations of racism dogged him from The Smiths days. Some of those accusations were more damning and more worrying than others but people like me could explain and excuse them away. Others could not.

I wrote a fairly lengthy piece on some of those accusations and dismissed most of them…or at least attempted to explain them and to contextualize them.

An apologist?

I don’t think so.

In recent months though Morrissey has gone further than making ill advised comments or writing troubling song titles. He has, in fact, offered wholesale support for a political party made up of many people from the far right.

It is possible to dress to the right politically and not be a racist of course. Discussing immigration isn’t the same thing as hating foreigners. Voting for Brexit doesn’t make you a Nazi. Being a capitalist or a libertarian doesn’t mean you want to make Britain a white ethno-state.

Had Morrissey provided a thoughtful and reasoned position on specific issues and left no ambiguity over his more conservative views people would have shrugged and moved on.

He hasn’t done that.

He has gone beyond flirting with the far right to openly embracing them.

My own political views include an unwavering support for freedom of speech as an absolute except when physical violence is threatened…mainly because I want that freedom for me but also because it means views I find troubling are placed out in the open where I can debate them, criticise them and be aware of who holds them.

Morrissey has placed himself into a near impossible position. He has aligned himself with some dangerous people. I don’t understand why. It seems so difficult to believe that a man who could write the songs that saved my life could be anything other than…well, nice.

I fear he may be ugly.

My own belief is that Morrissey has fallen victim to two very dangerous and corrosive things…sycophancy and ignorance.

For over thirty years now Morrissey has surrounded himself with people who say “yes” to his every utterance and who, for myriad reasons, refuse to offer any criticism.

“Fame fame fatal fame…it can play hideous tricks on the brain.”

True.

It isn’t good for people to only hear “yes”…it creates a terrible sense of entitlement. They become spoiled. Incapable of dealing with criticism except by excommunicating those who have offered it.

While Morrissey has been, at times, a very fine writer he is not a man with a formal education. He has read well but is he well read? He has a neat line in pithy responses but is he a wit? He can appear serious but is he a serious thinker?

I don’t think he is well read.

I don’t think he is witty.

I don’t think he does think seriously.

It seems to me that Morrissey is a wealthy, bored, narcissistic man who has fallen down a YouTube rabbit hole.

His views on immigration, for example, are not based on careful research or analysis of the sort that a conservative like Douglas Murray conducted for his book “The Strange Death of Europe” but is, instead, informed by Katie Hopkins rants on YouTube.

Now his latest European tour dates have all been “postponed” for logistical reasons.

Right.

The fact that none of those dates had sold out and that all of them were announced after his comments in support of that particular political group suggests that “logistical reasons” is code for “I’m not playing in half empty venues.”

Why haven’t they sold out?

People don’t like extremists.

If a band I loved were Labour supporters or Tory voters I wouldn’t care. I’d care if they were Stalinists or fascists.

Or it may be less complicated.

At £74 a ticket for a set list that has, in recent times, been a bit light on crowd pleasers and when he refuses to have a support act…many people see that as a bit rich. Shed Seven are playing at the same venue in Manchester as Morrissey was scheduled to play…they had invited The Twang and Reverend and the Makers to support and had promised a two hour long headline set; for half the price of a Morrissey ticket.

That’s not acceptable really is it?

It’s not like Morrissey gives you a show as such…it’s not like seeing Pet Shop Boys or Taylor Swift where you are seeing a genuine production that demands and deserves a high ticket price. It’s Mozzer and some session musicians.

It seems, to me, that Morrissey has fallen foul of being…Morrissey. He has carefully constructed a world around himself that exorcised criticism or debate and, consequently, he has lost touch with the real world. Anyone who would release a book like “List of the Lost” clearly has no dissenting voices around them.

Out of touch.

Vulgar.

Boorish.

Bullying.

Paranoid.

Ugly.

He has become, I fear, many of the things he railed against.

People change of course and I have no issue with people holding different views from those they once held…I don’t trust people who do! Change when presented with new information or when one has new experiences is good and right. Left wing. Right wing. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the truth of a thing and ones ability to express ones views without being ugly.

Morrissey is failing.

I feel very sad about what is happening and feel even more unhappy because it could all have been so different…he has had the time and the money to devote himself to a proper education if he so desired but he has chosen to while away his hours on YouTube and accepted without question what he has heard and seen.

What happens next?

Heaven knows.

But I’m miserable now.

11 thoughts on “A Farewell to Charms?

  1. I’ve not been following his outburst Paul and have to rely on what you write.
    Never in my lifetime has this country been so divided, never has the dialogue between factions been so divisive.
    It’s all very worrying.
    Love
    Dad

    Sent from my iPad

    Like

  2. That’s a really good piece, thank you.
    You’ve shared my views on the decline of Morrissey, succinctly and sadly true.

    Like

  3. Exactly how I feel about him. Loved him from 1983 onwards, but now he’s just a parody. Paid £50 to see him a couple of years ago and it was underwhelming. And now his support for Tommy Robinson. Sorry Mozza, the love has gone, but there is still time for you to redeem yourself and not turn into a total cockwomble.

    Like

  4. This is heartfelt and erudite. You’ve managed to put into words the betrayal that many of us feel. I’m all for separating art from artist (most of the artists whose work I love are morally suspect), but Steven Patrick Morrissey is not stupid: he knows what he’s doing.

    And what he’s doing is ugly.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. He’s been behaving badly for FAR too long. Here treats his fans terribly, by canceling shows on a regular basis and constantly spewing venom. I stopped liking him after the Bowie tour fiasco. What an arse.

    Like

  6. Great piece. He has gone down an unfortunate path. We can respect an artist’s work even when they act like an arrogant tosspot; after all that’s often a thing for artists. But it’s hard to fall in love with someone who is seemingly not just a virulent racist, but also quite ignorant of the history of racism and what a blind alley it’s turned out to be for our species.

    Like

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