Saturday, 4 September 2010
Ringleader of the Tormentors
It's always difficult when you see a person or a country that you admire being attacked for just reasons.
And this time, it really does seem that Morrisey has said something truly awful.
However, I can't help feeling that Te Graun's coverage is exceedingly poor. A journalist, whose name seems to have been invented by Chris Morris, Alexandra Topping writes:
'But tomorrow he reignites a simmering row about his views on race in an interview in Guardian Weekend magazine, in which he describes Chinese people as a "subspecies" because of their treatment of animals.'
Don't know if you can write in the continuous tense about tomorrow, but then Te Graun didn't get its nickname name for nothing. However, surely if it's so offensive Te Graun can decide not to publish the interview? After all, they are getting on their high horse because Morrisey's trying to attract attention by being offensive. Surely they aren't going to do the same thing whilst adding cowardly disclaimers? If anything that would be even lower. Especially from a paper that published an editorial saying 'Justice and reason have finally prevailed after nine months of mass hysteria on both sides of the Atlantic, hysteria and moralistic prejudices' after a middle class director who raped a thirteen year old avoided being extradited.
And did they have the same banner when Martin Amis called for people to get rough with Muslim kids? Did this receive so many throat clearing condemnations? No, because no one has any idea what Martin Amis 'thinks'. It's just a group hallucination that he is any kind of intellectual. And anyway, he offered the disclaimer that it was a thought experiment, which I'm sure settled a few minds.
By contrast, their coverage of the Morrisey song Bengali in Platforms is also completely idiotic. One of Morrisey's gifts is for ambiguity. Is this song written from the point of view of the Bengali or from the point of view of Morrisey looking at the Bengali or the point of view of someone else looking at the Bengali? It's never stated. That's the beauty of Morrisey's songwriting.
Then there is the same thirty year retrospective of Morrisey's supposed racism. Firstly, I find it amusing that wrapping himself in a Union Jack is so controversial. How many British rockstars wear the Stars and Stripes? In truth despite or because the USA has oppressed so many nations, it is seen as the de facto flag of Britain by many. Secondly, he write another cryptic song called National Front Disco.
Lastly there are his comments on immigration into England, which is far from being a simple issue. I notice that no-one actually tried to refute his view that British identity is diluted by large scale immigration. Personally, I don't care that much, because so many British want to assume an identity that is more American than anything else. Yet I think that it is precisely because it goes without saying to our elite that Britain should be morphing into a little America that they found Morrisey's comments offensive.
Is there also an element of class hatred? This is difficult to tell because Morrisey's comments on the Chinese sadly were very offensive. Yet I can't help feeling rather negatively about other Graun comments:
'And then, let's not forget, there is the rest of a vast catalogue that has nothing to do with race. In the best of it – from There is a Light that Never Goes Out to I Know it's Gonna Happen Someday – the words mix with the music to speak to a human condition that defines people of every race. And that, I am sure, is what will be remembered long after this silly old man has finally got off the stage.'
There is little thought that Morrisey might apologise for his comments, or redeem himself in some way. But then, could this be a thought articulated before Morrisey even opened his big gob on the subject of the Chinese? Could it be that they really don't want a rock star of working class origin to continue on the stage? Maybe there is a paradox in Morrisey's career. On one hand, he could be seen as the ultimate working class boy made good. On the other his career path was so contrary to the simplistic path of neo-liberal dogma, writing his songs when on the dole, writing 'Margaret on the Guillotine' when he was getting rich.
Indeed, whilst the sight of our national flag can bring so many 'leftists' out in hives, the brutality shown towards the industrial poor is one area where they have little dispute with the neo-liberals. Many of the others who showed anger at Thatcher (whose views on privatisation, manufacturing and the industrial regions are pretty centrist by today's status quo) such as Roger Waters are now happier with the Countryside Alliance than any working class movement.
In this day of middle class boring musicians, meaningless music with no social awareness, idiotic lyrics which only use ambiguity for sub Carry On style entendres and abysmal melodies, I think Morrisey's achievements look greater by the day, even as the idea of an intellectual, individualistic rock star whose work thrives on irony and ambiguity is seen as a dated concept. I would be sorry if indeed he did 'leave the stage', though sadly I think if he did he would have to admit it was partially his own fault.