In the political climate US President Donald Trump has created, issues are less black and white than ever before, making it difficult to take a firm stance on the news of the day. Associating with a simple “right” or “left” doesn’t make as much sense as it used to. Nowhere is that fracture between public opinion and established party lines more evident than with outspoken music mega-star Morrissey, whose statements on politics and sexuality at times perplex his followers.
Formerly the singer of the wildly innovative post-punk group The Smiths, Morrissey has made it a habit of courting controversy. He had the masses singing along to his ambiguously gay lyrics back in the early 1980s when that topic was not yet tolerated by a lot of mainstream listeners, let alone encouraged and celebrated the way that it is today. It isn’t entirely the case that he has been a champion of gay rights or of any other type of marginalized sexual preference. In fact, when it comes to his sexuality, Morrissey straddles a line on unique thought and opinion that is just as likely to irk the social justice warrior as it is the homophobic bigot.
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Morrissey has, on numerous occasions, refused to categorize himself as gay or homosexual, infamously clarifying that he is, in his own words a “humasexual” and not a homosexual. His memoir sparked a great deal of confusion and controversy, as it appeared to chronicle a long-term exclusive relationship he had with a man. According to Morrissey, this doesn’t pigeonhole him as homosexual, bisexual or anything else. He feels that he is “attracted to humans” and feels no need for further categorization. Apparently, he holds a disdain for prescribed opinions and political categorization. I am inclined to agree with him.
Upon hearing that Morrissey — along with John Lydon, also known as Johnny Rotten, of Public Image Limited and The Sex Pistols — is in favor of Brexit, one’s initial instinct is to categorize him in the “right-wing” category despite that way that his antics on stage would seem to suggest that he ought to be categorized as “gay” and thus more left-leaning.
But if there is anything Morrissey does consistently, it’s hit the high notes and subvert expectations. Just as signs indicated that Brexit-supporting Morrissey would in all likelihood be sympathetic to Donald Trump, he turned around and said in an interview that he would be willing to kill Trump if he could, simply “for the safety of humanity.”
Though the two wouldn’t get along, one sees in Trump a similar sort of rebellion, the kind that, when mixed with a bit of danger and enigma, grants both men the kind of dedication and admiration that fuels their celebrity status.
Maybe it’s the fan in me giving him the benefit of the doubt, or maybe that kind of thing has just become too commonplace to say about the 45th President of the United States, but the comment hardly merits an eyebrow raise from me. I do my best to understand my favorite singer, and I suppose he is trying to say that Trump is doing more harm than good. I switched Morrisey out of my imaginary “right-wing” category, therefore, and back into my imaginary “left-wing” category. But then, Morrisey said that “if you tell the truth in England, you’ll lose your job” while lamenting the politically correct Orwellian nightmare that England has become in the face of its immigration problem. What is a fan to think?
It’s not lost on me that Morrissey’s personal opinion on these issues doesn’t need to matter much to me just because I happen to revere his music. That is, in fact, precisely the point I am attempting to come around to: it isn’t fashionable to toe the proverbial party line anymore. Trump himself won the Republican nomination without any prior experience, or even the support of the party itself. He won despite the opposition of party titans, including his presidential predecessors, the Bushes. He won because of the voters.
Whatever you think of the man or his policies, Trump’s victory shows a new zeitgeist of changing paradigms regarding what it means to be a Republican or a Democrat, a conservative or a liberal.
Maybe it’s time for us to shed the old party-line mentalities, and think for ourselves a bit more. Maybe it’s time for us all to be a bit more like Moz in this respect.