Morrissey, we need to talk.
How long have we been together? Almost a decade, I would say. That’s a long time. That’s half of my life. You’ve been there for me in the darkest of times, whispering in my ear, helping me stay sullen and angry at whomever I was mad at. You’ve coddled me through hard times, licked your lips in the face of my despair. You’ve been friends with my shadowy feelings that lurk in the night, coaxing them into throwing me surprise parties. I loved you. I spilled my soul and bled in front of you, and you drank my tears.
I loved you, but I was ignorant then. I ignored red flags. I made excuses for you. I justified your actions because it was all part of an act.
I don’t think it’s an act anymore.
Morrissey, I think we should see other people. Actually, I think I should see other people, and you should stop making music until you can really right all of your wrongs.
My ex-favorite artist Morrissey has built his career on a persona of rebellion. The lifeblood of his music is a public that is passionate and ready to brawl over its beliefs. He took advantage of his gifted, silky voice, his witty ability to write lyrics and his penetrating rhythms to peddle fury and rage. He charmed me. His lyrics were poignant narratives that seemed irrelevant to the general public and yet touched on all our shared insecurities. He made me feel like I was not alone in my most vulnerable thoughts.
What I realized too late is that I was enveloped in not just his alluring, melodic tracks, but also his 30-year-old archive of unacceptable comments on matters that he has nothing to do with.
Morrissey is a provocateur. He thrives on angst and mutiny. I have been to the bottom of his well of moral beliefs. I have climbed out to spread the word: His well is empty. There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. This is not because of him as an artist — he is an incredibly gifted artist. This is because of him as a person, having so much influence and using it to promote anarchy and thoughtless values.
It is time Morrissey stops hiding behind his talent and answers for his mistakes.
He has pulled the rug out from under me one too many times. I’d felt secure, relating to his music, and all of a sudden he’s slapped me awake by saying something grossly inappropriate and detrimental.
I was ashamed when he released T-shirts featuring civil rights campaigner James Baldwin surrounded by lyrics from “Unloveable”: “I wear black on the outside ‘cause black is how I feel on the inside.” When he made Islamophobic comments regarding the Manchester bombing in May, I felt sick. I continued to listen to The Queen is Dead and Bona Drag, though. I was under his musically impressive thumb, and I saw no way out.
I reminded myself of his animal rights activism. I reminded myself that he openly disapproved of President Donald Trump. I reminded myself that we shared views on Israel’s decades-long struggle. I told myself it was all part of his shtick. I told myself I could still love his music, even if I didn’t support him. I repeated these things as lullabies, cradling me through my restless moral struggle with him.
But I won’t excuse his actions any longer.
After the release of Low in High School two weeks ago, Morrissey made comments, and I snapped out of a trance I had been in for years. Responding to Kevin Spacey’s alleged assault of actor Anthony Rapp, Morrissey claimed that Spacey was being “attacked unnecessarily.” He followed by casting doubt on the women who have come out about being sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. He claimed these women were just embarrassed and disappointed that it didn’t help their careers. He claimed that, “If you go through history, almost everyone is guilty of sleeping with minors. Why not throw everyone in jail right away?”
In that moment, I saw that this is not part of an act. This is who he really is, and it’s disturbing. The comments came out at the same time as the album, and it was suddenly clear the artist and the art were not two separate entities.
I couldn’t enjoy Morrissey’s music while hating Morrissey, because supporting his music is what encourages the extremist behavior he is so known for. By listening to his music, I was validating his harmful actions and words. I was helping to give him a platform to make intolerant, ignorant comments that I did not support.
Holding Morrissey accountable for his actions is imperative because he has millions of people at his feet, listening to whatever he has to say because they love his music. His art and his public image are both affecting millions of people’s own values and beliefs, just like they influenced me. Morrissey is using the fact that his songs speak to people on an intrinsic, beautiful level to say anything he wants — anything that will give him attention — promoting to fans that sexual assault can be belittled, racism can be swept under the rug and fame exempts one from accountability. He does all this while not worrying that he will lose fans, because his music is just “too good.”
But that’s not true. I will not keep listening. I will personally hold him accountable.
Morrissey, I deserve someone better than you. I don’t want to be friends. Please, don’t show up on my Spotify begging to be listened to. I will not lend my ear. I loved you so much, but I hate what you used my love for.
We are officially through.
Contact Maisy Menzies at [email protected].