Heaven knows he’s miserable now.
Morrissey’s manager issued a scathing statement Sunday slamming “The Simpsons” for depicting the English rocker in a “hurtful” and “hypocritical” light.
Sunday’s episode of “The Simpsons” saw 8-year-old Lisa adopt a new imaginary friend inspired by the fictional Quilloughby — a former member of British band the Snuffs, which “dominated the ’80s indie scene with their brand of literate, sardonic … music that focused on Quilloughby’s obsessions, especially his militant vegetarianism.”
Fans couldn’t help but notice the animated character (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) and his uncanny resemblance to Morrissey. The former frontman of British band the Smiths, a staple of ’80s indie rock, is known for lyrics and imagery that reflect his views on animal rights and other hot-button issues.
Titled “Panic on the Streets of Springfield,” a riff on the 1986 Smiths song “Panic,” the “Simpsons” episode poked fun at Morrissey’s penchant for droll commentary. It also satirized his disillusioned, morose sound with original parody tracks such as “Everyone Is Horrid Except Me (and Possibly You).”
Morrissey seemed flattered — at first — by the homage, promoting the episode on his Facebook page prior to its Sunday premiere. And “Simpsons” writer Tim Long recently told Variety the cartoon is “definitely Morrissey-esque, with maybe a small dash of Robert Smith from the Cure, Ian Curtis from Joy Division, and a bunch of other people.”
After its debut, however, Morrissey’s team took issue with how the episode portrayed an older version of the so-called Quilloughby during a Snuffs reunion concert. According to Yahoo News, one scene saw the washed-up character spiral out of control onstage — renouncing veganism because it “was invented by foreigners, of whom there are far too many on this planet!”
“That’s right, I hate the foreign!” Quilloughby shouts while firing a meat gun at the crowd before performing a solo track called “Refugees? Again?” Watching his future self alongside Lisa, imaginary Quilloughby laments, “Is this what I turned into? I’m greedy, I’m hateful, and my face looks like a syphilitic moon!”
In 2021, the sequence reads like a commentary on xenophobic and racist remarks made in recent years by Morrissey, who has called Chinese people “a subspecies,” mocked London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s accent and spoken out against England’s liberal-leaning immigration policies.
“Poking fun at subjects is one thing,” read a post on Morrissey’s official Facebook page written by his manager, Peter Katsis. “But 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.”
Morrissey also has expressed support for the white nationalist political party For Britain, led by vocal anti-Islamist Anne Marie Waters. Waters has endorsed the so-called “white replacement theory,” arguing against “the replacement of white Europe by non-Europeans,” as stated by the politician in a 2019 speech.
“[C]alling the Morrissey character out for being a racist, without pointing out any specific instances, offers nothing,” Katsis’ Facebook post continued. “It only serves to insult the artist. They should take that mirror and hold it up to themselves.”
Katsis also mentioned actor Hank Azaria, who apologized to people of Indian descent last week for voicing the controversial “Simpsons” character Apu. Azaria previously quit playing the local convenience store owner after the role was widely condemned as a harmful stereotype.
“Simpson’s actor Hank Azaria’s recent apology to the whole country of India for his role in upholding ‘structural racism’ says it all,” Katsis wrote. “Unlike the character in the Simpson’s ‘Panic’ episode … Morrissey has never made a ‘cash grab’, hasn’t sued any people for their attacks, has never stopped performing great shows, and is still a serious vegan and strong supporter for animal rights.
“By suggesting all of the above in this episode … the Simpson’s hypocritical approach to their storyline says it all. Truly they are the only ones who have stopped creating, and have instead turned unapologetically hurtful and racist.”
Fox, which airs “The Simpsons,” declined to comment when reached Monday by the Los Angeles Times.