The problematic situation with The Smiths

I just needed to get out of the house, I’m really not enjoying my own company lately, even social media is losing its novelty after a decade of clicks and stats I use to validate myself. However, I love the Dice app. It’s like Tinder, but I actually make it past the first date, I know I won’t have to talk to anyone and I’ll end up leaving the building late at night, more than likely out of breath and satisfied. And sometimes it’s free! However, I don’t mind paying. I quite like it actually, it gives me a sense of well-being. That applies to gigs AND Tinder dates I guess. ANYWAY.

As I turned the corner, the all too familiar intro of This Charming Man by The Smiths started in my ears, and Shoreditch seemed vibrant and colourful again. It’s not my favourite Smiths track, but it certainly is a great record to pick you up, or to turn up to the highest volume on the train when you’re sat next to an attractive person that also watches reality TV non-ironically. I WOULD GO OUT TONIGHT, BUT I HAVEN’T GOT A STITCH TO WEEEAAAARRRR is the alternative equivalent to (search an animal that has a mating call).

Unfortunately, my grin faded and the spring in my step turned into that of a tangled slinky. The colour bled out of my surroundings and my face. I was hit with a realisation.

IS IT OK TO STILL LIKE THE SMITHS? 

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Morrissey has said some pretty terrible things lately, I now realise how my parents feel when I do or say anything and they just look worn out and can only sigh with an exasperated ‘Oh Roscoe’. I’ve had this pretty much all my life actually. But now I know how it feels. To put your faith into someone to that degree only to see their name pop up in places, and the acknowledgements aren’t for achievements. They gain quick fame on any scale for self-inflicted controversies. Like that one mate you like to have around but unsure why when all he does is screech MADELEINE MCCANN and 9/11 into any serious topic or conversation you’re having with others and follows up with making monkey noises down the mic when he’s playing against others in Call Of Duty.

Morrissey’s canvas of ‘creative freedom’ is ABSOLUTELY BLOODY ANYWHERE. He’s a proper ‘actually-you-know-what-while-I’m-here’ type of person whenever he brings out a new record or The Smiths repackage and re-release another album with 2 more demos of Johnny Marr talking on the phone to his mum and Mike Joyce twiddling his thumbs, humming, and spinning around in a desk chair at a Salford recording studio. And this is what I want to hear, I want to hear the music, the record, not Morrissey puffing his chest out ready for racist eels to pour out of his furrowed entrance out into the world, and it’s up to you to decide where said ‘entrance’ is. Actually, you know what, I’ll make a list of all the dumb things Morrissey has said and done in the last year. We’ve got time!

  • When the AWFUL bombing happened at Ariana Grande’s concert in 2017, rather than joining fellow artists with showing sympathy, he had THIS to say about the situation (click the highlighted part as I’m a professional)
  • Morrissey recently said he’d only vote for a political party if it was ‘intelligent enough to ban the slaughterhouse’. Look, I can see where he’s coming from, you’d be silly not to agree. HOWEVER, that’s the only reason to vote for a party. Not to help out the NHS, not to help the crippling debt students have to face for the rest of their lives, the ever increasing homelessness crisis, just that one single reason. I simply shudder at the thought of a Morrissey written manifesto.
  • This borderline racist quote: ‘You can’t help but feel the Chinese are a sub-species’
  • This other borderline racist quote: ‘Although I don’t have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears. So the price is enormous. If you travel to Germany, it’s still absolutely Germany. If you travel to Sweden, it still has a Swedish identity. But travel to England and you have no idea where you are.”Translation: ‘ALTHOUGH I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING AGAINST PEOPLE FROM OTHER COUNTRIES, I ACTUALLY REALLY REALLY DO.’
  • This wildly sexist quote: ‘It’s hard to be a man. It’s made to be hard and I don’t know why. I think it’s easier to be a woman. The women’s movement has been so successful; the men’s movement has never been accepted. I think it’s not wanted.’ Using all of the lengthy and well-picked words he uses, you’d think he’d have come across ‘oppression’ somewhere along the line.
  • Morrissey compared the Norwegian massacre (2011) in which 76 people died to the slaughter of animals for fast-food restaurant chains.
  • Split up The Smiths for financial gain, but first making sure Andy and Mike got only 10% of revenue while Marr and the man himself bagged the rest.
  • There are more but this is so upsetting to type, I’m crying in Costa right now and my laptop warranty doesn’t cover water damage. And even then, it’ll be an embarrassing story to tell the laptop repair people as to why there are salty tears drowning the spacebar.
  • Morrissey has so far cancelled 130 concerts in 4 years, the majority being that the venues that have booked him sell meat products and he doesn’t want to be in any proximity of that. I completely understand that and I’m 100% on board with vegans, but it’s hardly taking a stand when you’ve just pissed off 90% of the fans that WERE attending because you don’t want to be near something you can very easily avoid. If someone offers me a chicken nugget, I’m going to say ‘No thanks’ and carry on with living my life and all parties are fine with each other. Look, there are so many things he’s said, and we really don’t have time, I’m sorry, just realise that THE MAN IS AN IDIOT.

I don’t want to go all Piers Morgan and claim that actors and singers should stick to their field without getting into REAL WORLD ISSUES but I think maybe Morrissey should. I understand that his lyrics are politically driven but off mic, when he’s as liberal and outspoken as he is, and not in a good light, it makes you wonder if he means what he’s saying or if he’s just saying it for the shocks and gasps. And he doesn’t just get shocks and gasps. He also gets sighs. Loooooooong sighs. Sometimes a head shake and a stern look of disappointment. BUT can I feel like this forever? Do I have to carry this guilt every time I want to listen to The Queen Is Dead? Must I act like a teenager shopping with his mum every time Still Ill comes on shuffle, always looking over my shoulder, looking shifty and worrying to see if anyone is watching?

or

CAN YOU SEPARATE THE ART FROM THE ARTIST?

In recent light of ALLEGATION-A-GEDDON, where thankfully, actors and directors and producers across the Hollywood board are finally being outed for sexual abuse, it’s more than likely that one of them might’ve starred in your favourite movie, or you might’ve been a massive fan of their work. Which is problematic because that piece of art or entertainment will never be the same to consume. For example, if anyone asked me what my favourite movie of 2017 was, I’d swiftly say Baby Driver. Everything about it was amazing. The direction, the soundtrack, the production, the cast…oh.

The cast.

Kevin Spacey.

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KEVIN SPACEY. Once a lovable actor, now a terrible specimen of a human being. However, do I stop watching and enjoying this movie now? He plays one of the greatest characters in the whole feature. A dirty gangster of immense wealth that blackmails his way through life, later redeeming himself and his sins by sacrificing his own life to let the hero and his love interest win and live the rest of their lives together. And I’m taken out of the cruel reality that Kevin Spacey is an awful waste of space until the credits roll, and then it sinks in as I sink back into the world around me. I then feel awfully guilty for liking it, like when I buy a round at Spoons and a mate turns up late just as I’ve paid for everything so they have to miss out. IMMEASURABLE GUILT.

But can I still like the works of Kevin Spacey without liking the despicable man behind the works?

UPDATE: At the time of writing, Kevin Spacey is currently undergoing trials. I would explain in detail what’s happening, but so much is going on, as soon as I type a sentence, something else has happened. Just Google the name, sit down, prepare for the worst.

It’s a huge grey area and I think it all matters within context.

The content artists produce isn’t the crime. I love the music David Bowie created but he allegedly slept with a bunch of 13 year olds and I don’t know about you, but that’s frightfully grim. John Lennon told the press that there was nothing wrong with him physically abusing past partners but he did write some fantastic songs that shaped the pop-rock landscape and essentially changed music forever. Most recently, face-sharpie enthusiast XXXTentacion was shot dead in his car, he did some truly disturbing things to his partner that no person with any sliver of sanity or dignity should commit, but (for some reason) people loved the music he put out and ignored the artist behind it. HOWEVER, the artists should definitely be brought up for their crimes, and we should never ever forget what they’ve said or done as the splash damage for their actions are sometimes catastrophic. But to deny the art they’ve created isn’t always a true reflection of the creators behind it.

SIDENOTE: If you’re up for boycotting and using services that allow you to consume content without supporting the artist financially or socially, that’s also an option I would not frown upon at all.

HOWEVER, I think the best way around it is to support the people that are out there combatting the immoral acts that are within the creative industries, if we back those HEROES, we can win by strength in numbers. Instead of not watching Baby Driver because of Kevin Spacey, watch it to support the hundreds of talented individuals that worked so hard and for so long to collectively bring you an amazing film.  And this is where I swing the whole thing back to Morrissey and The Smiths. Denying the music of Morrissey is to deny the music of the other 3 band members, and the rest of the record label, and the technicians and engineers that put together some amazing records. Support them, not the artist, and enjoy the art they’ve produced without buying into them solely.

The point of this article is that there is no solid answer, it will continue to be an open discussion as to what you like personally, and there is no wrong or right answer. It’s a topic for you to discuss at the pub with your mates, or your parents or teachers or police officers or drug dealers or whoever! Personally, I think you can support the music of The Smiths and not support the absolute xenophobic sludge that pours out of that twats mouth.

I just hope I can wear my Meat Is Murder t-shirt out without being branded as a racist. And hopefully, all of you can too (?).

  • What do you think? Can YOU separate art from the artist?
  • Does it depend on the severity of their actions?
  • Did people REALLY like Lost Prophets anyway?

Oh and before I forget!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42050512

Sigh.

x

 

Words: Roscoe Martin

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