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Morrissey has been awful and racist for years. We’ve covered some of the terrible things he’s said, but there’s so much more. I’m not going to get into the details except to say that he’s anti-immigrant, backs a white nationalist party, and has said openly racist things. Junkee has an overview of how problematic Morrissey is, told from the perspective of someone who loved his music. (I’m an 80s/90s new wave fan, but I was never that into The Smiths or Morrissey’s solo music and preferred New Order, Depeche Mode and Siouxsie and The Banshees. The Smiths were too depressing for me.)
You’ve surely heard this story as it’s been out a couple of days and we’re only paying attention to it now. The new episode of The Simpsons Sunday featured an 80s British new wave musician, Quilloughby, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch(!) and widely assumed to be parodying Morrissey. The episode is called “Panic on The Streets of Springfield,” similar to the Smith’s hit song “Panic,” and Quilloughby’s band is called the Snuffs. Of course the character does a lot of stupid sh-t, because Morrissey has done a lot of stupid sh-t and it’s The Simpsons. Instead of laughing it off, Morrissey’s manager, Peter Katsis, wrote a long screed on Facebook against The Simpsons, stating that they’re the real racists for showing Morrissey with a gut or something. He then went on to refute the different plot points where the musician gives up veganism and goes on tour just to make money.
Although Simpsons scriptwriter and avowed post-punk fan Tim Long insisted ahead of Sunday’s broadcast that Quilloughby was a fictionalized composite of various ‘80s U.K. icons, including the Cure’s Robert Smith and Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, it was clear to any Gen X indie fan from the episode’s Queen Is Dead-stylized green and pink poster, or from comedy-song snippets like “Hamburger Homicide” (sample lyric: “The flesh that you cover with cheese is proof of your moral disease”), that Quilloughby was based on the Smiths’ “Meat Is Murder” frontman Morrissey.
Morrissey’s handlers themselves were apparently aware of the seeming homage, even posting a teaser of the episode on the singer’s official Facebook page. However, when the episode finally aired and turned out to be quite unflattering, Moz was none too pleased, according to a new statement posted on his Facebook, which is run by his management company, Deckstar.
“Poking fun at subjects is one thing. Other shows like SNL still do a great job at finding ways to inspire great satire. But when a show stoops so low to use harshly hateful tactics like showing the Morrissey character with his belly hanging out of his shirt (when he has never looked like that at any point in his career) makes you wonder who the real hurtful, racist group is here. Even worse — calling the Morrissey character out for being a racist, without pointing out any specific instances, offers nothing. It only serves to insult the artist. They should take that mirror and hold it up to themselves. Simpsons actor [and former voice of Indian character Apu] Hank Azaria’s recent apology to the whole country of India for his role in upholding ‘structural racism’ says it all. By suggesting all of the above in this episode… the Simpsons’ hypocritical approach to their storyline says it all,” read the irate statement.
Sunday’s Simpsons episode climaxed with Lisa and the imaginary, frozen-in-time Quilloughby attending Springfield’s Bummershoot Festival to see the reunited Snuffs perform for the first time in more than 30 years. In the most damning scene, both Lisa and the young Quilloughby were horrified when the bloated, nasty, circa-2021 Quilloughby admitted onstage that the Snuffs’ reunion was just a “cash grab” because “I lost my fortune suing people for saying things about me… that were completely true,” followed by his denouncement of veganism because it “was invented by foreigners, of whom there are far too many on this planet!”
Quilloughby then shouted to the jeering crowd while firing off a meat-gun, “That’s right, I hate the foreign! Coming to this country and taking our jobs! Sleeping with our men!” Eventually a riot broke out as Quilloughby performed a new track from his solo album, Refugees? Again?, while the young, imaginary Quilloughby cried out, “Is this what I turned into? I’m greedy, I’m hateful, and my face looks like a syphilitic moon!”
The above-mentioned jabs were clear references to, among other things, Morrissey’s libel suit against British music paper the NME over a 2007 profile that he claimed characterized him as racist, and the increasingly alarming xenophobic and anti-immigration comments he has made in the years since (much to the dismay of his liberal fanbase). It remains to be seen if Long’s liberties with the Quilloughby character, and Long’s denial that the character was entirely Morrissey-inspired, will prevent Moz from filing yet another lawsuit.
Given all the evidence that Morrissey did those things, you would think his people would learn to shut up, but those type of people rarely do. The next day Katsis went off on Benedict Cumberbatch for voicing the character, stating that he must be hard up for money and wondering whether he is “as big an a-hole as the people on The Simpson’s writing team.” What is going on with these white British celebrities who do and say racist things and then get so mad when they’re rightfully called racists? Morrissey, Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne should all go out to dinner together and cry into their martinis about how they’re finally getting called out after decades of being awful. Bill Maher can join them to complain about “cancel culture” in the US.