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Film & TV

Morrissey vs. The Simpsons

Morrissey performs during the International Song Festival in Vina del Mar, Chile, in 2012. (Eliseo Fernandez/Reuters)

Last night, The Simpsons poked fun at a depressed Britpop singer for the band “The Snuffs,” and with his sideburns and pompadour, the singer, Quilloughby (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) looked a lot like Morrissey, frontman for the Smiths. Morrissey was apparently enthusiastic about being spoofed on the episode before it aired, even promoting it on his Facebook page, but now claims via a manager that the spoof was “unapologetically racist.” I advise The Simpsons to issue a three-word statement in reply: “Eat my shorts.”

As an actual Smith, I would like to disassociate myself from Morrissey’s grumbling, attributed to his manager Peter Katsis and published in a lengthy Facebook post that calls the episode “hurtful” and “an insult.” After Lisa Simpson becomes a Snuffs fan because she likes its “militant vegetarianism,” the ’80s-’90s version of its singer Quilloughby becomes her imaginary friend. A pastiche Smiths song (which sounded a bit like Morrissey’s 1988 solo effort “Every Day Is Like Sunday,” from the album Viva Hate) was in the spirit of Flight of the Conchords and its music was by Conchordian Bret McKenzie:

Later on, the satire gets a lot more pointed. The episode shows the real Quilloughby at a music festival, and writer Tim Long plays on Morrissey’s Brexit support and occasional broadsides at immigrants to portray him as a lout who would have embarrassed the younger version of himself (“That’s right, I hate the foreign! Coming to this country and taking our jobs! Sleeping with our men!” he says, promoting an album called Refugees? Again?). The younger, imaginary Quilloughby observes with disgust, “Is this what I turned into? I’m greedy, I’m hateful, and my face looks like a syphilitic moon!” Also, the real Quilloughby has a Homer Simpson-sized beer gut and is a hypocrite about meat who not only munches a pastrami sandwich on stage but fires a sausage gun at the audience.

All very rude, but typical Simpsons satire, and hardly racist. The same episode mocks the mindset of rioters, who scream, “Misplaced anger! Misplaced anger!”

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