independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Eilis O'Hanlon: Old misery-guts Mozza has every right to be mean

The good news for the royal family is that Morrissey appears to have found another couple he despises almost as much as he does the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.



Last year, the 53-year-old former Smiths frontman barely let up on the young newlyweds, wearing "We Hate William & Kate" T-shirts during gigs in Paris, and even blaming the pregnant Kate for the tragic suicide of a nurse following a prank call from an Australian radio station. Now he's turned his ire on David and Victoria Beckham, whom, Mozza declares, should be "dragged to the edge of the village and flogged because they are insufferable to anyone of intelligence". Presumably in the same way that Morrissey's music since he left The Smiths has been insufferable to anyone with ears.

Of course he's wrong about the "Peckhams", as he insists on calling them. (See what he did there? Oh, how our sides are splitting.) David Beckham has received more abuse than any other footballer of his generation; his response was to mature into a generous, tolerant and inclusive fellow who is a credit to his profession. Victoria, not so much. But they come as a package, so we'll have to put up with her.

Morrissey is as wrong to lambast them as he was when comparing the London Olympics last summer to a Nuremberg rally.

That's still no reason for spluttering indignation from his detractors. Being at odds with society is what rock stars are meant to be all about, after all. They're not supposed to suck up to power, or stand on the sidelines, waving flags and tossing confetti as the establishment congratulates itself on yet another triumph. Their job is to provide the raspy voice of discontent, kicking against the pricks, even if they do find themselves doing it in later years from behind the electronic gates of country estates as their waistlines increase and they swap leather jacket and DMs for cardigan and slippers.

Morrissey has certainly been consistent in that. He always had a deep and abiding loathing for the royals and his other fellow celebrities. It was that hate which kept him going. It would be ridiculous if he now embraced those old nemeses as friends.

A rock star who doesn't make a complete muttonhead of himself every now and then is like a stand-up comic who doesn't tell any jokes. They're just not keeping their end of the bargain. They should aim to do one of two things. Either be busted regularly by police in an LA hotel room with a loaded gun, half a kilo of cocaine, and an entire team of naked cheerleaders; or else make pronouncements so extreme that they have retired colonels choking on their gin and tonics in the Home Counties. Morrissey has taken the second path and turned it into an art form. He's not as sharp or as funny as he was back in the day – long gone are the days when he was giving Quentin Crisp a run for his money in the aphorism stakes – but at least he's still trying.

That has to be a better path to take than becoming a respectable responsible citizen in middle age, like Bono or Sting, saving the ruddy rainforests, or, worse, Gary Barlow, writing nice inoffensive songs that get played in the tinned beans aisle in Tesco, and appearing on the X Factor, and trailing round after Her Majesty like another pet corgi.

Even David Bowie, once regarded by bourgeois society as a surreal, androgynous threat to civilisation as we know it, is now only up to releasing songs so ear-numbingly boring that they could induce a coma at 100 paces. Yet Bowie's so beloved by his pussyfooting admirers that no one dared to tell him last week that his new song was dreadful, whereas no one feels any need to mince their words around Morrissey – that "po-faced, asexual old miserablist", as the London Evening Standard once dubbed him. That's as it should be. Rock culture is no place for politeness.

Besides, there's nothing that would bring on apoplexy in Morrissey more than being regarded as a loveable national treasure, thereby ensuring a steady supply of further outbursts. The god of mischief demands that it be done for that reason alone.

Sunday Independent

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