Morissey and his manager Peter Katsis have issued lengthy statements in regards to The Simpsons’ portrayal of the former Smiths’ singer in the show’s most recent episode, titled Panic On The Streets Of Springfield. There’s a lot to get through here, so bare with me.
The episode was aired a few days ago in the US, on Sunday, 18th April. It saw Lisa becoming obsessed with a British singer named Quilloughby, – voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch – who fronts a band called The Snuffs. The character’s persona was inspired by Morissey. She finds the band through a streaming service, becoming sucked in by “their brand of literate, sardonic music” and Quilloughby’s militant veganism.
Lisa, inspired by the character’s stance on animal cruelty, tries to get vegan tacos on the menu at the elementary school, but they are mistakenly made with bacon. Disappointed by the outcome, she finds solace in a new imaginary friend she conjures up: 1980’s Quilloughby.
She then steals Homer’s credit card (on Quilloughby’s encouragement) in order to purchase tickets to an upcoming Snuffs reunion concert. To her horror, the present-day Quilloughby is no longer who he used to be. Instead, he is an overweight, racist carnivore.
“I was [vegan], until I found out veganism was invented by foreigners, for whom there are far too many on this planet,” Quilloughby said in the episode.
Katsis’ lengthy response to the episode was posted to Morissey’s official Facebook page the next day. In the statement, he accuses the show of trying to “capitalize on cheap controversy and expounding on vicious rumors.”
“When a show stoops so low to use harshly hateful tactics like showing the Morrissey character with his belly hanging out of his shirt (when he has never looked like that at any point in his career) makes you wonder who the real hurtful, racist group is here,” he wrote.
“Even worse – calling the Morrissey character out for being a racist, without pointing out any specific instances, offers nothing. It only serves to insult the artist.”
Consequence of Sound pointed out otherwise, referencing Morissey’s “pro-English” stance that has seen him publicly show support for an anti-Islamic, right-wing extremist party in the UK.
The post was initially not attributed to Katsis, so it was assumed to be from Morissey himself as it came from his official page. However, later, Katsis edited the original post to include his name at the end.
Katsis later hit out at publications like CoS and Pitchfork for “attribut[ing] my quote (on The Simpsons’ poor writing) to Morrissey, while using false facts to try and support more meaningless stories.” This was posted after he had amended the post to include his proof of authorship.
Later, in an interview with Rolling Stone, Katsis said that he found the episode “insulting” and revealed that they are not yet planning any legal action, but “we’ll surely be looking at options.”
“The Simpsons are claiming it’s a composite of several artists — obviously so we don’t sue them,” he said in the interview.
“It’s sad that publications care more about what could achieve viewership or readership than anything that is related to the truth. It’s clear The Simpsons are hurting and they’re trying to be pertinent again. But this is an effort to be specifically hurtful in some weird kind of way.”
He then made another post a little while later criticising Cumberbatch for taking the role.
“Could he be that hard up for cash that he would agree to bad rap another artist that harshly?” he said.
“Could he actually be as big an asshole as the people on The Simpson’s writing team? and the FOX team?
Apparently so. Maybe he should speak up and tell his side of this. Does he even have enough balls to do that?”
Later that evening, Morissey issued a statement of his own via Morissey Central.
In the statement, he alludes to the idea of a lawsuit, however it seems that he concedes, citing a lawsuit requiring “more funding than I could possibly muster in order to make a challenge. Neither do I have a determined business squad of legal practitioners ready to pounce.”
He goes on to say, “You are especially despised if your music affects people in a strong and beautiful way, since music is no longer required to.”
“In fact, the worst thing you can do in 2021 is to lend a bit of strength to the lives of others. There is no place in modern music for anyone with strong emotions.”
He then says that apparently we all know that “free speech no longer exists,” and spouts a bizarre theory surrounding the coverage of race in the media.
“False theories of race are now the most common (and boring) aspect of all criticism, and will continue to be so until accusations of racism are in themselves illicit.”
Read the full statement from Katsis below, and read Morissey’s via the Morissey Central website.
Surprising what a “turn for the worst” the writing for The Simpson’s tv show has taken in recent years.
More shoddy journalism by COS and Pitchfork today.
They attributed my quote (on The Simpson’s poor writing) to…
Thinking more today on this Simpson’s bullshit…..
Why did Cumberbatch even agree to take this voice-over gig playing…