Sunday, 13 November 2016

Heaven Knows He's Miserable Now: Morrissey and Politics

“Liberal educators such as George Galloway and Nigel Farage.....they are loathed by the BBC because both men respect equal freedom for all people, and they are not remotely intimidated by the BBC...( Khan ) eats halal-butchered beings, and talks so quickly that people can’t understand him..that suits the British media perfectly.” -Morrissey 2016.
"I nearly voted for UKIP. I like Nigel Farage a great deal. His views are quite logical – especially where Europe is concerned..."-Morrissey 2013
There is no reason why people should expect incisive or idealistic political commentary from "alternative" or "counter-mainstream" pop stars, even-or especially-from those given to adolescent posing as "alienated", "misunderstood" or the bit-of-an-existentialist "outsider", the  quirky "lone individual".

Morrissey is clearly still locked into that pose which is why he has some regard for Galloway and Farage and it probably is part of his mindset now. Beyond forty, those who put such a high premium on being idols in their youth inevitably become boring and do not develop that much having reached their prime long ago.

Partly, his political stances are all about Him and a projection of his image. Both Galloway and Farage are "alternative" and Morrissey has complained about Britain changing out of recognition for the worse, which is why he may also have sympathy for two leading Brexit campaigners who were young in the 1980s.

By "liberal educators", Morrissey probably means not that they are liberals in his view but that they are showing "liberals in the mainstream" that there is an "alternative" to their boring orthodoxies and the forces changing the Britain he remembers nostalgically and that once made him a cutting-edge pop star.

This was made clear even a just under decade ago back in a "controversial" NME interview in 2007,
"The gates of England are flooded. The country's been thrown away."
"With the issue of immigration, it's very difficult because, although I don't have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears".
"If you walk through Knightsbridge on any bland day of the week you won't hear an English accent. You'll hear every accent under the sun apart from the British accent."
From a late career perspective, his comments on immigration and UKIP are probably partly sincere, though he benefits from the controversy in order to gain publicity and, when attacked, to gain sympathy from the ageing fan base who might likewise be piqued at the thought of themselves becoming obsolete too as time passes.

The one recurrent theme is boredom. The 1980s was a decade that compares favourably with the 2000s for having better pop music that kept the United Kingdom at the forefront of global fame and fortune and that was uniquely British. It's the end of that identity he appears to be mourning and melancholy about.

Pop stars are often not completely unlike modern politicians in that they need to tap in to the 'spirit of the times' and understand what messages their audience are receptive to. In a sense they can be just as manipulative in that regard. They can have messiah complexes and dictatorial tendencies, being supreme egotists.

Morrissey is one such example and he identifies with these lone individuals put on a pedestal and always in the spotlight. He likes Galloway and Farage because they provoke a reaction and defy convention. Farage was once rumoured to have been a punk and Brexit did, in fact, cause some 'Anarchy in the UK'.

Galloway repackaged his image from being a hardline Clydeside communist into a passionate idealist in a cynical world of warmongers and profiteers; they had betrayed the authentic traditions of the real left and had become Blairite clone politicians who blended one into another in a bland mass of mediocrity.

Galloway's autobiography and statement of his political credo drew on John Lennon's Imagine with the title I'm Not the Only One. Of course, it is handy for Morrissey to have shown support for Farage and Galloway . So he cannot be pinned down as 'right wing' and 'racist' because Galloway gets the Muslim vote.

Morrissey's 'politics' is mostly about image projection and a genuine sulking dislike for a world that changed too quickly. There is an aspect of that in the UKIP vote and, until Corbyn rejuvenated the Labour Party, on the left too. Galloway was a solo act thought to have alone carried on the tradition of 'real' socialism after its 1980s defeats.

So many of Morrissey's political riffs are a consequential of generational struggles with unwanted changes, a talent for self-promotion, without much in the way of any new music to accompany it, and the fear that the world that made him and that he made something of through music has largely gone and vanished.

Morrissey is definitive English social type, a misanthropic and sarcastic Mancunian who grew up in a specific time and place that has moved on, leaving him obsolete.

No comments:

Post a Comment