In every Morrissey interview there is a quote. It might sit next to beautifully expressed thoughts about the nature of performance, about the nature of personal growth, about what exactly is wrong with celebrity culture, but it will be the sole quote that anyone focusses on, and for one good reason: it’s beyond the pale.
Take the interview he gave this week to the website Rookie. There are some beautifully poised and witty ideas being expressed in there, like this, concerning the issue of personal development:
“If you think that we all step through a door marked Adult, or that we sign a Grown-Up Document, you’re quite wrong. We remain as we always were, and that, alas, is one of life’s many nasty tricks.”
Or this, a guide to writing your memoirs:
“I think autobiography is mostly self-worship, or personal mythology. In my case, self-disgust is the spur, which doesn’t mean it isn’t poetic or elevated or even funny.”
Unfortunately, all anyone is going to care about is this, the answer to the question “what political causes mattered most to you back then, and are they still important to you now?”
He said: “War, I thought, was the most negative aspect of male heterosexuality. If more men were homosexual, there would be no wars, because homosexual men would never kill other men, whereas heterosexual men love killing other men. They even get medals for it. Women don’t go to war to kill other women. Wars and armies and nuclear weapons are essentially heterosexual hobbies.”
Now, it’s a free (ish) internet. Morrissey is perfectly entitled to say whatever the heckfire he likes, and indeed he often does. The trouble comes when he’s dead wrong about something, as he is here.
Not that I’m acting the outraged heterosexual, castigated by a pop star for enjoying death, as I clearly do. It’s the idea that heterosexual men are at the root of all the world’s wars because they are predisposed to warlike behaviour that’s a load of old guff. Actually, the reason heterosexual men are the root of the world’s wars has more to do with sexism and homophobia. By keeping women and LGBT people out of positions of power for, well, most of history, heterosexual men have been in charge of all the wars. By doing so, they’ve fostered the myth that the decisions they make would not have been made by other people.
And yet clearly they would. Margaret Thatcher took the UK to war over the Falklands, for example. Homosexual men HAVE killed other men. There are definitely non-heterosexual men out there who favored the wars in Iraq or Pakistan. By assuming that everyone who belongs to a group outside of the male heterosexual orthodoxy thinks and acts in exactly the same way on a genetic level – a reductive view every bit as prejudiced as saying “all women like children,” Morrissey has managed to throw mud not only at the men in his sights, but pretty much everyone else too.
Still, the bit about life’s nasty tricks was nice…