Thursday, September 9, 2010

Big Mouths

Earlier this week, I wrote a short post  for Culture Brats about Morrissey's racist remarks in a recent Guardian article  . He's notorious for this kind of behavior, but here's a bit of history courtesy of Pitchfork:

"Over the years, Morrissey has been tagged by some as racist due to lyrics and his comments on immigration. In 2008, the singer donated 28,000 pounds to Love Music Hate Racism, though the organization told the Guardian it would not accept money from him in the future if he did not apologize for his most recent controversial quotes. Perhaps we'll get some background on the issue when Moz finishes his autobiography, which is apparently "almost concluded," according to the Guardian piece."

I'm not going to rehash what I wrote, and to be honest, this is less about Morrissey than it is how hard it is to write about a beloved figure whose moments of eccentricity qualify as hate speech. I feel as if I'm straddling two worlds, one telling me this is gross and he should be vilified, and another telling me we should "judge the art and not the artist." Sorry, it's hard for me to judge the art when the artist makes racist, sexist, or homophobic statements. But even then I'm a hypocrite, because if I followed my own advice, I'd have very little left on my iPod. I'm curious where other people draw the line: what can you ignore, and what do you find reprehensible? I spend a lot of time in "fan world," where all but the most egregious crimes are excused, chalking it up to "being a difficult artist." This was in a second article in the Guardian:

"It's an unfortunate facet of a complex character, but we fans should not feel obliged to disown the music we love, any more than opera enthusiasts should have to close their ears to Wagner because of his objectionable views. As the singer explains to Armitage, "the ageing process isn't terribly pretty", and although he has produced some excellent songs in recent years, it is increasingly possible to enjoy his great oeuvre without any regard to the man. It is telling that this autumn's release is remastered and expanded material first recorded two decades ago."

As self-righteous as it sounds, I have no problem "closing my ears." I don't see how Morrissey's racism is different from Michael Richards's or Mel Gibson's, who managed enough justifiable outrage to put their careers in jeopardy.

1 comment:

  1. "whose moments of eccentricity qualify as hate speech."

    I just wanted to add that it's been my perception that the music media dismisses Morrissey's hate filled statements as "Oh, he's done this before, that's just the way he is..." I don't see a lot of others getting the same treatment when they screw up. (Mel Gibson, et al.) Granted, Morrissey appeals to a smaller, more rabid fanbase.